KENTUCKY SUPREME COURT WARNS BAR COUNSEL THAT DISCIPLINE PROCEEDINGS ARE NOT CRIMINAL TRIALS!!

Kentucky Bar Ass’n v. Robinson, 386 S.W.3d 739 (Ky., 2012)

These distinctions between the procedure provided by SCR 3.360(4) and SCR 3.480(2) are of vital importance. While KBA disciplinary proceedings are frequently treated as prosecutorial by the bar, they are not criminal proceedings.

Rather, they are civil disciplinary matters carried out by an agency of this Court.

Bar Counsel seems to conflate disciplinary proceedings with criminal plea bargains or guilty pleas, or civil settlement agreements, whereby the judge maintains a role throughout the negotiation process, including approval of the parties’ agreement.

We caution Bar Counsel not to conflate a Trial Commissioner with a trial court, nor Bar Counsel with a prosecutor. While there are some similarities, the rules indicate that neither is identical in function or authority

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