DRB - Disciplinary Review Board of the Supreme Court of New Jersey

The Disciplinary Review Board of the Supreme Court of New Jersey (Board or DRB) serves as the intermediate appellate level of the attorney disciplinary system in this state. The Supreme Court created the Board in 1978, and the Office of Disciplinary Review Board Counsel (Office of Board Counsel) in 1984.

The Board reviews all recommendations for discipline from the district ethics committees, special masters and the Office of Attorney Ethics. The Board conducts a de novo review of the record, with oral argument at the Board’s discretion. De novo review requires the Board to evaluate the record anew and to make its own findings, after which the Board may dismiss any findings made by a district ethics committee or a special master, and may also disagree with a committee's or a special master's dismissal of some of the charges. The Board hears oral argument on all cases in which a district ethics committee or a special master issues a report recommending discipline greater than an admonition. Occasionally, the Board remands matters for further proceedings. At the conclusion of oral argument, the Board privately deliberates about the appropriate outcome of each case, and votes for either dismissal of the complaint or for the imposition of one of several forms of discipline: admonition, reprimand and censure (letter or decision detailing the attorney's misconduct; admonition being the least serious, censure being the most serious); suspension (period of time during which the attorney is prohibited from practicing law); and disbarment (permanent loss of license to practice law in New Jersey).

The Board’s decisions as to discipline are final in all cases, subject to the Supreme Court’s confirming order, except those decisions recommending disbarment, which are reviewed by the Supreme Court. The Board’s determinations of appeals from dismissals of ethics grievances and of appeals from Fee Arbitration Committee rulings are final, with no recourse to the Supreme Court.

Since 1994, all disciplinary proceedings are public, after the filing and service of a complaint, with limited exceptions. All fee arbitration proceedings are confidential.

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