ODC carries out two main functions: (1) disciplinary investigations and prosecutions; and (2) professional ethics educational services.
ODC’s primary function is handling complaints of alleged unethical conduct by Hawai`i attorneys and attorneys admitted pro hac vice (out-of-state attorneys admitted for a limited purpose). Ethics investigations may lead to determinations ranging from a finding of no unethical conduct (resulting in dismissal of the complaint) to institution of formal disciplinary proceedings (leading to possible imposition of disciplinary sanctions).
As part of its educational function, ODC spends time answering questions from Hawai`i attorneys on ethical matters regarding their own prospective conduct. Informal verbal opinions are provided by ODC, however, as described in more detail in this website, these informal opinions are nonbinding against ODC.
Other educational activities undertaken by ODC include articles on ethics appearing in the Hawai`i Bar Journal, preparation of ethics-related materials for various continuing legal education programs, and speaking to groups of lawyers and non-lawyers about attorney ethics and discipline issues locally and nationally.
RICHARD A. PLATEL is the Chief Disciplinary Counsel and YVONNE R. SHINMURA is the Deputy Chief Disciplinary Counsel.