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You can search the entire site. or go to the recent opinions, or the chronological or subject indices. Anderson v. Alaska Bar Association (05/14/2004) sp-5806

Anderson v. Alaska Bar Association (05/14/2004) sp-5806

     Notice:   This opinion is subject to correction  before
     publication  in  the  Pacific  Reporter.   Readers  are
     requested to bring errors to the attention of the Clerk
     of  the  Appellate  Courts, 303  K  Street,  Anchorage,
     Alaska 99501, phone (907) 264-0608, fax (907) 264-0878,
     e-mail corrections@appellate.courts.state.ak.us.


            THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF ALASKA

JOHN A. ANDERSON,             )
                              )    Supreme Court No. S-11215
               Appellant,          )
                              )    Superior Court No.
     v.                       )    3AN-03-09551 CI
                              )
ALASKA BAR ASSOCIATION,  )    O P I N I O N
                              )
               Appellee.      )    [No. 5806 - May 14, 2004]
                              )


          Appeal  from the Superior Court of the  State
          of    Alaska,   Third   Judicial    District,
          Anchorage, Morgan Christen, Judge.

          Appearances:   John  A.  Anderson,  pro   se,
          Anchorage.    Mark  Woelber,  Assistant   Bar
          Counsel,  Alaska Bar Association,  Anchorage,
          for Appellee.

          Before:   Bryner,  Chief  Justice,  Matthews,
          Eastaugh, Fabe, and Carpeneti, Justices.

          PER CURIAM

            Anderson  filed  a  grievance  with  the  Alaska  Bar

Association  alleging  various instances of attorney  misconduct.

After taking preliminary steps, Bar Counsel decided that a formal

investigation  was not warranted and so notified Anderson.   When

Anderson  sought reconsideration, Bar Counsel forwarded the  file

to  Board Discipline Liaison to review.  Board Discipline Liaison

concurred in Bar Counsel's decision not to open an investigation.

           Each  of  the  above  steps was authorized  and  taken

pursuant  to  Bar  Rule 22(a).  What Anderson  did  next  is  not

covered  by  any  rule.   He  filed  a  "Notice  of  Appeal  from

Administrative Agency" with the superior court, seeking review of

the  decision not to open a formal investigation of the grievance

that he had filed.  On motion of the Bar Association the superior

court  dismissed  the  appeal.  Anderson then  appealed  to  this

court,  urging that we review the Bar Association's decision  not

to accept the grievance for investigation.

           In  an order dated February 24, 2004, we affirmed  the

order of the superior court on the ground that the superior court

lacks   jurisdiction  to  hear  appeals  from  the   Alaska   Bar

Association concerning lawyer disciplinary matters.  But we  also

concluded  that grievance-closing decisions under Bar Rule  22(a)

may,  upon timely request of a complainant, be reviewed  by  this

court.    We   based  this  conclusion  on  the  presumption   of

reviewability pertaining to all final administrative orders,  and

the inherent authority of this court to regulate the practice  of

law.  We called for further briefing on the question whether  Bar

Counsel abused his discretion in determining that the allegations

contained in the grievance did not warrant an investigation.1

           The additional briefing is now complete.  Based on our

review of the parties' arguments and the record, we conclude that

Bar  Counsel did not abuse his discretion in declining to  accept

the  grievance for investigation.  This proceeding  is  therefore

DISMISSED.

           In the Supreme Court of the State of Alaska



John A. Anderson,               )
                                )  Supreme Court No. S_11215
                                   Appellant,  )
                   v.           )            Order
                                )
Alaska Bar Association,         )
                                )
                                    Appellee.   )        Date  of
Order: 02/24/04
                                )
Trial Court Case # 3AN_03_09551CI

     Before:   Bryner,    Chief   Justice,    Matthews,
               Eastaugh, Fabe, and Carpeneti, Justices.

1.         The  order of the superior court of August  23,  2003,
dismissing this case is AFFIRMED because the superior court lacks
jurisdiction  to  hear  appeals from the Alaska  Bar  Association
concerning lawyer disciplinary matters.
2.        Although the Bar Rules do not provide for supreme court
review  of  decisions of the board discipline  liaison  when  the
liaison  affirms  the decision of bar counsel  not  to  accept  a
grievance for investigation under Bar Rule 22(a), such review  is
appropriate.  All final administrative actions are presumed to be
reviewable.  State, Dep't of Fish & Game v. Meyer, 906 P.2d 1365,
1370   (Alaska  1995).   A  case-closing  decision  rejecting   a
grievance  for investigation is a final administrative action  by
the  Alaska Bar Association.  See id. at 1370-72.  As an  adjunct
of  the judicial power vested in it by article IV, section  1  of
the Alaska Constitution, this court has the inherent authority to
regulate  the  practice  of law which encompasses  the  power  to
discipline  members  of  the  Alaska Bar  Association.   Citizens
Coalition  for Tort Reform, Inc. v. McAlpine, 810 P.2d  162,  165
(Alaska 1991).
3.         In  light of the presumption of reviewability and  the
court's  inherent  authority, we conclude that  grievance-closing
decisions  under  Bar Rule 22(a) may, upon timely  request  of  a
complainant, be reviewed by this court.  The standard  of  review
should be deferential, namely, whether bar counsel abused his  or
her  discretion in determining that the allegations contained  in
the grievance do not warrant an investigation.  See Vick v. Board
of Electrical Examiners, 626 P.2d 90, 93 (Alaska 1981).
4.         Appellant describes the substance of his grievance  in
his opening brief filed November 3, 2003.  On or before March 25,
2004, the Alaska Bar Association shall file a brief in support of
bar   counsel's   decision  not  to  accept  the  grievance   for
investigation  and  the  affirmance of  that  decision  by  board
discipline liaison.  If deemed necessary, the bar association may
submit a confidential disciplinary file as an appeal record.
5.         The appellant shall have twenty days after receipt  of
the bar association's brief within which to file a reply brief.
     Entered at the direction of the full court.

                                   Clerk of the Appellate Courts

                                   /s/ Marilyn May
_______________________________
1The order of February 24, 2004, is appended to this opinion.