Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 54.1. Professions and Occupations
Chapter 39. Attorneys

§ 54.1-3935. Procedure for disciplining attorneys by three-judge circuit court.

A. Any attorney who is the subject of a disciplinary proceeding or the Virginia State Bar may elect to terminate the proceeding before the Bar Disciplinary Board or a district committee and demand that further proceedings be conducted by a three-judge circuit court. Such demand shall be made in accordance with the rules and procedures set forth in Part Six, Section IV, Paragraph 13 of the Rules of Supreme Court of Virginia. Upon receipt of a demand for a three-judge circuit court, the Virginia State Bar shall file a complaint in a circuit court where venue is proper and the chief judge of the circuit court shall issue a rule against the attorney to show cause why the attorney shall not be disciplined. At the time the rule is issued by the circuit court, the court shall certify the fact of such issuance and the time and place of the hearing thereon to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who shall designate the three-judge circuit court, which shall consist of three circuit court judges of circuits other than the circuit in which the case is pending, to hear and decide the case. The rules and procedures set forth in Part Six, Section IV, Paragraph 13 of the Rules of Supreme Court of Virginia shall govern any attorney disciplinary proceeding before a three-judge circuit court.

B. Bar Counsel of the Virginia State Bar shall prosecute the case. Special counsel may be appointed to prosecute the case pursuant to § 2.2-510.

C. The three-judge circuit court hearing the case may dismiss the case or impose any sanction authorized by Part Six, Section IV, Paragraph 13 of the Rules of Supreme Court of Virginia. In any case in which the attorney is found to have engaged in any criminal activity that violates the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct and results in the loss of property of one or more of the attorney's clients, the three-judge circuit court shall also require, in instances where the attorney is allowed to retain his license, or is permitted to have his license reinstated or restored, that such attorney maintain professional malpractice insurance during the time for which he is licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth. The Virginia State Bar shall establish standards setting forth the minimum amount of coverage that the attorney shall maintain in order to meet the requirements of this subsection. Before resuming the practice of law in the Commonwealth, the attorney shall certify to the Virginia State Bar that he has the required insurance and shall provide the name of the insurance carrier and the policy number.

D. The attorney, may, as of right, appeal from the judgment of the three-judge circuit court to the Supreme Court pursuant to the procedure for filing an appeal from a trial court, as set forth in Part 5 of the Rules of Supreme Court of Virginia. In any such appeal, the Supreme Court may, upon petition of the attorney, stay the effect of an order of revocation or suspension during the pendency of the appeal. Any other sanction imposed by a three-judge circuit court shall be automatically stayed prior to or during the pendency of the appeal.

E. Nothing in this section shall affect the right of a court to require from an attorney security for good behavior or to fine the attorney for contempt of court.

Code 1950, §§ 54-74, 54-75; 1956, Ex. Sess., c. 33; 1964, c. 201; 1970, c. 430; 1972, c. 103; 1980, c. 289; 1984, cc. 289, 703; 1988, c. 765; 1997, c. 238; 1998, cc. 339, 637; 2009, c. 287; 2017, cc. 40, 91.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.