To ensure that it consistently counts and reports its backlog of disciplinary cases, the State Bar and the Legislature should work together to determine what cases the State Bar should include in its backlog. For example, one method of calculating the backlog would be to include every case that affects public protection that the State Bar does not resolve within six months from the time it receives a complaint. Until the Legislature determines what cases the State Bar should include in its backlog, the State Bar should comply with our 2009 recommendation to fully disclose the types of cases it includes and excludes from its backlog calculation, as well as any methodology changes from the prior year.
Business and Professions Code sections 6086.15(a)(1)-(9) specify the backlog reporting requirements that will be used to prepare the 2015 Annual Discipline Report. B&P section 6086.15(a)(1) specifically addresses backlog; because the specific types of matters to be included in the backlog count are not specified in that section, the State Bar has sought feedback from the State Auditor and the Legislature on a proposed outline for the 2015 ADR report which delineates the specific matters to be included in the backlog count. The estimated completion date for this item reflects the due date for the 2015 report.
The State Bar has worked with the Legislature and as a result there is a pending amendment to Business and Professions Code section 6086.15, subdivision (a)(1), which defines the types of cases that are included in the annual discipline report. (Sen. Bill No. 387 (2014-2915 Reg. Sess.) as amended July 15, 2015, section 1.) The amendment would require that in addition to written complaints of a lawyer's misconduct, the backlog report shall include other matters opened in the Office of Chief Trial Counsel and pending beyond six months after receipt without the filing of notices of disciplinary charges, or the initiation of other disciplinary proceedings in the State Bar Court for the purpose of seeking the imposition of discipline against a member of the State Bar. Information, including average pending time, about other cases that affect public protection, as identified in Table 8 of the audit report, will be included in other parts of the annual discipline report, but not as part of the backlog as defined. The State Bar will conform its annual discipline report for 2015 to these provisions.
Agency responses received are posted verbatim.