Even though he wouldn’t talk specifics, Shipp did walk TheDC through how his office — which “investigates and prosecutes attorney misconduct for the 97,000 members of the DC Bar” — handles such matters.
“If a complaint comes in the front door, we read it [and] then assess whether the facts set out in it could be a violation of the rules of professional conduct,” Shipp said in a phone interview. “If there’s something to them and there could be a violation, then we’ll open a confidential investigation. That investigation would then be conducted by someone in this office. We get about 1,500 of these a year.”
“We also read the newspapers and we also read all the court opinions and we read all the blogs we can and all sorts of stuff like that and we do not have to have a complaint to undertake an investigation,” Shipp continued.
“We can open one based on our observation of something that interests us. Then, once the investigation is concluded, we conclude the investigation by dismissing it … or to informally admonish or to bring charges against an attorney. Informal admonishing or bringing charges against an attorney are public – and, at that point, the matter would be public if it ever reached that stage.”
“We prosecute around 50 lawyers a year, and we do formal investigations into about 500 cases,” Shipp added.
Holder’s spokeswoman, Tracy Schmaler, did not return TheDC’s request for comment.