In 1999 the name of the county court docket that primarily deals with attorney discipline was changed from "bar discipline docket" to "bar docket." This deceptively simple change is significant as there are matters entered in that docket that are purely administrative and not disciplinary in nature.

Administrative matters concerning the bar can include:

  • the appointment of a commissioner in the event of death or disappearance pursuant to SJC Rule 4:01§14;
  • the transfer of an attorney to disability inactive status pursuant to SJC Rule 4:01, §13(1) or 13(2); and
  •  the enforcing or quashing of a subpoena in connection with investigative proceedings before the Board of Bar Overseers.

Administrative matters concerning the bar can include:

SJC Rule 4:01 of the Supreme Judicial Court grants the county court jurisdiction over bar discipline matters involving any lawyer admitted to, or engaging in, the practice of law in the Commonwealth and empowers the Board of Bar Overseers (board) with the responsibility to investigate and prosecute such matters. Those actions most frequently filed by the Office of Bar Counsel (bar counsel) are petitions for suspension (temporary, term or indefinite), disbarment and reciprocal discipline. The grounds upon which bar counsel may petition the single justice for disciplinary action against an attorney include:

  • misuse or loss of client funds,
  • neglect of client interests,
  • fraudulent conduct,
  • sanction in another jurisdiction,
  • conviction of a crime and
  •  misrepresentation to the court.

In addition, the rule gives the single justice discretion to accept an attorney's resignation or to place an attorney on disability inactive status. An order of the single justice in bar docket matters is appealable to the full court and the standard by which the sanction imposed is reviewed is whether the sanction is markedly disparate from those ordinarily entered in similar cases. Matter of Kerlinsky, 428 Mass 656, 664 (1999).