“The 20th anniversary is, as much as anything, about the people the [Supreme] Court has appointed to be on BODA, which are some of the finest, best folks I have known,” says BODA chairman Clark Lea (pictured), who has served for five years. “The only reason to be on the Board of Disciplinary Appeals is to try to apply the rules as they are written and be as fair a judicial body as you can be.”
The Supreme Court appoints 12 lawyers to three-year terms on BODA; they can serve two terms. Among other things, BODA decides appeals from State Bar of Texas grievance committees that hear and decide clients’ grievances against their lawyers; hears compulsory discipline cases brought by the Bar’s Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel (CDC) against lawyers convicted of fiduciary crimes, among others; and hears petitions to revoke lawyer probations that the CDC imposes on lawyers in their disciplinary cases. Parties may appeal BODA’s decisions to the Supreme Court.
Before BODA’s creation in 1992, Lea says the attorney-grievance system was informal and there was no centralized enforcement of disciplinary rules. BODA helps provide “uniform administration of the rules,” it has “clear-cut” guidelines and procedures, and it “gives a great measure of independence to the grievance system,” says Lea, shareholder in Cotton Bledsoe Tighe & Dawson in Midland.
He adds that he hopes BODA “creates a measure of comfort with the public” and that attorneys who take matters before BODA “feel they are at least given a fair hearing.”
-- Angela Morris