The Oneida County Bar Association • New York   

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Article VIII - Committees

1. Standing Committees. The Association shall have the following standing committees:
 
Executive
Program
Grievance and Ethics
Fee Disputes
Pro Bono 
Continuing Legal Education
Courts and Judiciary
District and State Bar Liaison
Family and Domestic Relations
Lawyers Assistance
Past Presidents
Real Property
Estates & Trusts & Elder Law
Public Information and Education
 
2. Executive Committee. There shall be an Executive Committee of the Board of Directors, the members of which shall be the President, First Vice-President, Treasurer, and two (2) members of the Board of Directors. The two (2) Directors serving on the Committee shall be elected by the Board at its first meeting. The Executive Committee shall, between meetings of the Board of Directors, manage the business, affairs and activities of the Association and shall study and report to the Board all matters referred to it. The Executive Committee shall meet on the call of the President at times and places to be fixed by the President. A majority of the whole Committee shall constitute a quorum.
 
3. Program Committee. The Program Committee shall be responsible for the arrangements for various meetings and functions of the Association, including the annual Memorial Service, golf outing, special luncheons and any other functions as may be assigned to it by the Board of Directors or Executive Committee. The Program Committee shall also attend to participation by the membership at funerals and memorial services held for deceased members of the Association and shall appropriately acknowledge the illness of Association members.
 
4. Grievance and Ethics Committee. The Grievance Committee shall consist of a Chairperson and nine (9) active members, each of whom shall serve a three-year term. The members of the Committee shall be appointed by the President, subject to the approval of the Board of Directors at its first meeting. Vacancies in the Committee shall be filled for the unexpired portion of the term by the President, subject to the approval of the Board. The President shall appoint annually a Chairperson ,with consideration being given to persons who have previously served on the 5th District judicial committee. The members of the Committee may serve no more than two (2) consecutive three-year terms; except that the Chairperson, although appointed annually, may serve no more than two (2) consecutive three year terms. The Grievance and Ethics Committee shall examine all complaints against members of the Association for conduct alleged to be in violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility; shall examine all complaints against members of the Association in their relations to the Association or on any charge of fraud or other misconduct; shall examine and hear complaints against those non-members who consent to same; and shall determine any ethical question relating to the conduct or proposed conduct of an attorney. The Grievance and Ethics Committee shall comply with the rules and regulations promulgated by the Appellate Division, Fourth Department. The Committee may conduct its business by panels or subcommittees. All members of the Association shall, by reason of their membership, and all complainants shall, by writing, bind themselves to abide by the decision of the Grievance and Ethics Committee and all subject matters coming before it in a particular case.
 
5. Fee Disputes Committee. The Fee Disputes Committee shall consist of a Chairperson and nine (9) active members, each of whom shall serve a three-year term. The members of the Committee shall be appointed by the President, subject to the approval of the Board of Directors at its first meeting. Vacancies in the Committee shall be filled for the unexpired portion of the term by the President, subject to the approval of the Board. The President shall appoint annually a Chairperson. The members of the Committee may serve no more than two (2) consecutive terms; except that the Chairperson, although appointed annually may serve no more than two (2) consecutive three year terms. The Fee Disputes Committee shall examine all complaints against members of the Association concerning fee disputes with clients or any other members of the Bar. The Committee may conduct its business by panels or subcommittees. All members of the Association shall, by reason of their membership,
and all complainants shall, by writing, bind themselves to abide by the decision of the Committee and all subject matters coming before it in a particular case.
 
6. Pro Bono Committee. The Pro Bono Committee shall be responsible for all matters relating to the legal representation of poor and indigent persons. The Committee shall cooperate with the Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York, Inc. in developing and maintaining a panel of volunteer attorneys to represent those persons in need of counsel in matters of civil or criminal jurisdiction; shall cooperate with the Administrator of the Supplemental Assigned Counsel Program in developing and maintaining a panel of attorneys to represent persons in need of counsel pursuant to Article 18-b of the County Law; shall develop and maintain, in cooperation with other agencies or separately on behalf of the Association, such other programs as may be essential to the efficient and just resolution of legal disputes involving poor persons within the County of Oneida; and shall study and recommend, from time to time, such action or proposed legislation as will improve the administration of justice on matters within the scope of its responsibilities.
 
7. Continuing Legal Education Committee. The Continuing Education (CLE) Committee shall develop and administer a continuing legal education program for members of the Association and such other persons or organizations as the Board of Directors may authorize. The CLE Committee shall also submit appropriate documentation to those jurisdictions maintaining mandatory CLE programs, verifying the attendance of members at programs of this Association or securing the credit approval from programs presented by the Committee.
 
8. Courts and Judiciary Committee.
    (a) Composition and Selection. The Courts and Judiciary Committee shall be composed of a Chairperson and thirteen (13) active members of the Association. The Chair and members of the Committee shall be appointed annually by the incoming President for a one-year term. No member shall serve more than six (6) consecutive one-year terms. The members of the Committee shall be appointed by the President on a nonpartisan basis, provided, however, that no more than one-half of the Committee membership shall be a registered member of the same political party. Committee members should be appointed with a view toward representation on the Committee by active practitioners in each of the courts of record in Oneida County. Vacancies in the committee shall be filled for the unexpired portion of the term by the President, subject to the approval of the Board.
    (b) Duties and Responsibilities. The Courts and Judiciary Committee shall be responsible for the review of qualifications of candidates for judicial and related offices; shall obtain and disseminate information concerning court procedures to the membership and the public; shall cooperate with the justices of all courts of record by aiding and assisting the Justices in bringing about desired changes and improvements in the practices, procedures and conduct of business of the courts; shall be responsible for greeting newly elected or appointed members of the Judiciary or related offices, expressing appreciation for public services rendered by Justices and other officials, and assisting on such other matters as are deemed appropriate; shall act as a liaison between members of the Bar and the Judiciary and may consult informally with members of the Judiciary regarding complaints or inquiries as to judicial conduct or court procedures; shall review proposed changes in trial practice and procedure; shall consult with representatives of the Office of Court Administration and other state or federal officials on matters affecting the Judiciary and the courts as may be deemed appropriate; and shall perform such other duties and responsibilities as the Board of Directors may, from time to time, direct.
    (c) Review of Qualifications of Candidates. The Courts and Judiciary Committee shall review the qualifications of candidates for vacancies in the following positions: United States District Court for the Northern District of New York, as well as Bankruptcy Court and Magistrates; Supreme Court of the State of New York for the Fifth Judicial District; Oneida County Court; Surrogate's Court and Family Court in Oneida County; City Court in the Cities of Utica, Rome and Sherrill; Oneida County District Attorney and Public Defender; and all other vacancies in judicial positions in courts of record for which a member of this Association may be a candidate. The first step in the Committee review process is the candidate's submission of a questionnaire. A questionnaire, in the form established by the Courts and Judiciary Committee, shall be forwarded, upon request, to all candidates, and, in addition, shall be forwarded to the Chairman of the appropriate Countywide political party where the Committee is aware that a vacancy exists, but a candidate has not asked for a questionnaire. The Committee shall request that the questionnaire be submitted within a stated time. Upon receipt by the Committee of a candidate's questionnaire, the Committee shall advise the following offices of the application and request a report regarding the candidate's eligibility: the Fifth District Grievance Committee, the Grievance Committee of the Oneida County Bar Association or other local bar association where the applicant is a resident, and the Commission on Judicial Conduct in those cases where the candidate is a current member of the Judiciary. The Committee, upon receipt of the report(s) of such offices, shall interview each candidate. Following the interview, the Committee shall rate each candidate and submit the recommendation of the Committee, in writing, to the Board of Directors. The Chairperson of the Committee shall attend each meeting of the Board of Directors where a recommendation of the Committee will be considered, and, upon request of the Board, shall advise the Board of the vote count in each instance and shall state those factors considered by the Committee in arriving at its recommendation.
    (d) Ratings. The following ratings may be selected for candidates for judicial and related offices: "Well Qualified", "Qualified", "Qualified, But Limited By Experience", and "Not Qualified". The voting as to each candidate shall be by secret ballot. A majority of the entire Committee shall constitute a quorum for any vote, and a majority of those present shall determine the rating. The Courts and Judiciary Committee may, in its discretion, decline to consider a rating with regard to a candidate for a particular vacancy, and, in such event, the Committee shall submit a written explanation of its reasons, together with the questionnaire, report, or other documentation, if any, to the Board of Directors. The Committee may also recommend to the Board that a candidate for a vacancy be given no rating by reason of a refusal to submit a questionnaire or to otherwise cooperate with Committee requirements or proceedings. The rating of the Committee is a recommendation only, and the Board of Directors shall consider the Committee's recommendation and by resolution of the Board, establish a rating which shall then be the official rating of the Association.  In rating a candidate, the Committee shall give appropriate consideration to: (1) The contents of the questionnaire submitted by the candidate, or the fact of the refusal of a candidate to submit a questionnaire; (2) The eligibility of a candidate by reason of constitutional or statutory mandates; (3) The fact and circumstances of any disciplinary action or pendency of any grievance proceeding; (4) The candidate's integrity, temperament for a judicial or related office, legal or judicial ability, extent of experience, mental and physical health, industry and diligence; and (5) Such other matters as the Committee or Board of Directors may deem relevant and material.
    (e) Rating Not Endorsement. The Association shall not be authorized to endorse, or to refuse to endorse, any candidate for a judicial or related office. The rating recommended by the Courts and Judiciary Committee and the rating approved by the Board of Directors shall not be deemed an endorsement for or against any candidate, but rather, fulfillment of this Association's role under EC8-6 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
 
9. District and State Bar Liaison Committee. This Committee shall have the responsibility of apprising itself of various matters being considered by district, regional or state bar associations, organizations or groups. The Committee, or members thereof, shall attend meetings of such associations, organizations and groups, and report to the Board of Directors all matters which may be of interest to the Association and present for consideration any matters as may be referred to it by the Board of Directors. Members of the Association serving as delegates to the New York State Bar Association House of Delegates shall automatically be members of this Committee. 
 
10. Family and Domestic Relations Committee. This Committee shall consider legal issues concerning domestic relations, family law, and children; shall be responsible for the continued improvement in the administration of the Family Court system; and shall study and submit recommendations on those matters referred to it by the Board of Directors. 
 
11. Lawyers Assistance Committee. This Committee is responsible for assisting lawyers who are temporarily disabled from carrying on their practice and shall attempt to obtain needed assistance for lawyers who have health-related problems, including alcohol and substance abuse.
 
12. Past Presidents Committee. This Committee shall be composed of all Past Presidents of the Association. The Committee shall perform such special functions as the Board of Directors may refer to it and shall consult, from time to time, with the Executive Committee or Board of Directors on those matters the Committee considers to be of importance to the overall goals and policies of the Association.
 
13. Real Property Committee. The Real Property Committee shall serve as a liaison with local boards or associations of Realtors and with the Oneida County Clerk; shall study, report and make recommendations concerning improvements in the methods and procedures affecting real estate transactions; and shall perform such other duties as may be referred to it by the Board of Directors.
 
14. Estates and Trusts and Elder Law Committee. The Estates and Trust and Elder Law Committee shall advise the members of the Bar Association of important issues and changes effecting Trusts, Estate and Elder Law. The Committee shall also serve as a liaison with similar committees of the New York State Bar Association, assist in the Association's public and continuing education programs, and shall perform such other duties as may be referred to it by the Board of Directors.
 
15. Public Information and Education Committee. The Public Information and Education Committee shall be responsible for publicizing the activities of the Association, its sections and committees, to the press and media; shall be responsible for the publication of the Association's newsletter; shall be responsible for informing other bar associations in the state of the activities of the Association; shall coordinate various programs of the Association involving various segments of the public, including the annual Law Day Program, Lawyer in the Classroom, the State Bar Mock Trial Program, and the Law Explorer Post; shall develop and present programs and seminars on various legal issues and topics specifically for attendance by the public; shall promote policies and programs designed to improve the relationship between the Association and the public, as well as the legal profession and the mass media, and to inform the public of the function of the law, the courts and the legal profession; and shall perform such other functions and duties as may be assigned by the Board of Directors or Executive Committee.
16. Committee Reports. Each Committee shall submit an annual report to the Board of Directors, generally describing the work of the Committee during the past year and any suggestions that the Committee  might have for improvements in the functions of the Committee for the future. The report submitted by the Grievance and Ethics Committee and the Fee Disputes Committee shall be prepared so as to preserve the confidentiality of specific matters before each of those Committees. The report shall be submitted by December 31, of the current calender year.
 
17. Special Committees. The Board of Directors may, from time to time, create Special Committees of the Association or of the Board. Each Special Committee shall terminate and dissolve upon completion of its assigned task. It is the specific intention of this provision that Special Committees are ordinarily for a one year term from the date of its creation , but may be extended at the Board's direction.
 
18. Telephonic Participation. Any Committee, including the Executive Committee, may conduct its meeting by means of a conference telephone or similar communications equipment allowing all members participating at the meeting to hear each other at the same time. Participation by such means shall constitute presence in person at the meeting. This provision shall not apply to a candidate's interview with the membership of the Courts and Judiciary Committee, but shall apply to all other matters of that Committee, including a vote upon a candidate's rating.
 
19. Appointment of Ad Hoc Committee in Event of a Conflict. In the event that a grievance or fee dispute is filed against a member of the Grievance and Ethics Committee or Fee Disputes Committee, the Chairperson of the Committee involved shall promptly notify the President of that fact. The President shall appoint an AdHoc Committee, composed of five (5) former members of the committee involved. The President shall also designate one of the members of the AdHoc Committee to serve as Chairperson. The AdHoc Committee shall process the grievance or fee dispute with the same authority and under the same procedures utilized by the appropriate Standing Committee.

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