Rules of Disciplinary Procedure of the Judicial Council

Comment on this policy

The procedures established in these Rules shall govern proceedings conducted by the Judicial Council pursuant to Article VIII, Section 2(a) of the Bylaws of the American Veterinary Medical Association concerning membership in the Association. The procedures set forth in these Rules are subordinate to the Bylaws of the AVMA. In the event of any conflict, the provisions of the Bylaws shall prevail.

Section 1 - Definitions

As used herein:

  1. "Association" means the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
  2. "Members" means the members of the AVMA.
  3. "Secretary" means the Secretary of the Judicial Council, the AVMA staff member who is assigned to provide administrative support to the Judicial Council.
  4. "Party" means the complainant or the respondent in a disciplinary proceeding referred to herein.
  5. "Judicial Council" or "Council" means the duly elected Judicial Council of the AVMA.

Section 2 - Initiation of Proceedings

  1. A complaint against any member may be filed with the Secretary by any person, whether a member or not, any Principal Veterinary Organization or Constituent Allied Veterinary Organization currently represented in the House of Delegates, or the Secretary on behalf of the Association. A Complaint brought on behalf of the Association may only be initiated by the Executive Board, Board of Governors, or the Executive Vice President.
  2. In order to be considered, a Complaint must be filed with the Secretary, in writing, dated and signed by the complainant. It must allege facts which constitute a basis for disciplinary action under any of the criteria set forth in Article II, Section 5 of the Bylaws. Allegations must be set forth with specificity and include adequate evidence to substantiate the allegations, including copies of pertinent documents and notarized statements from witnesses.
  3. A Complaint must be filed within one year after the facts became known to the complainant or could have been known in the exercise of reasonable diligence.
  4. The Secretary shall promptly review every complaint to determine whether to:
    1. utilize the criteria established by the Council to refer the matter to the appropriate AVMA HOD Principal Veterinary Organization (e.g. state veterinary medical association) or state board of veterinary medicine, or respond with one of the standard responses previously approved by the Council;
    2. place the matter on the agenda for the next Council meeting; or
    3. consult the Council Chair to determine the appropriate course of action (e.g. request additional information).
  5. Before conducting a hearing, the Council may:
    1. Informally investigate the matter in an attempt to resolve the situation, including contacting any party or witness.
    2. Direct the Secretary to send by certified mail, registered mail, postage pre-paid return receipt requested, or courier to the last recorded address a copy of the complaint and the evidence submitted with the complaint to the party complained against and advise that the respondent may file a written response with the Secretary within thirty days. If contested, the response must refute the allegations with specificity and include adequate evidence, including copies of pertinent documents and notarized statements of witnesses. If the respondent does not file a reply within 30 days, the charges may be addressed as uncontested. The Judicial Council may accept a late response at its discretion. The Secretary shall promptly deliver copies of all accepted responses to the complainant and the Council.
    3. After a complaint has been filed with the Secretary, it may be withdrawn by the complainant only with the consent of the Judicial Council.
  6. At its next meeting, the Judicial Council will review the information provided along with any additional available information, including its own investigation.
    1. If the Council finds the complaint to be invalid or not to be supported by the evidence presented, the Council may dismiss the complaint or hold it pending further investigation.
    2. If the Council, at its discretion, finds that the evidence before it is sufficient, it may render a preliminary determination, which may include disciplinary action against the member. Where the Council makes a preliminary determination that includes disciplinary action, it will notify the member of its preliminary determination, which will be deemed accepted by the member and become final unless the member notifies the Secretary that the member requests a hearing before the deadline specified in the notice.
    3. The Council may schedule a hearing to acquire additional evidence and information to clarify the issues.
    4. The Secretary will notify all parties of the Council's action.

Section 3.   Hearings.

  1. The Judicial Council Chair shall designate the time and place of the hearing, and the Secretary shall notify the complainant and the respondent of the designated time and place. An appearance at a hearing, without objection by a party, will constitute a waiver of any defect in the notice of that hearing. If either party fails to appear at a duly noticed hearing without obtaining a continuance or adjournment thereof, the Judicial Council may proceed with the hearing.
  2. At any hearing, every party has the right to present witnesses, to submit evidence pertinent to the case, and to cross-examine any witness. Witnesses who give oral testimony shall be sworn by the chair. Before permitting testimony relating to anyone's character or general reputation, the Judicial Council shall satisfy itself that the testimony has a direct bearing on the case.

    Each party may be represented in person and/or be represented by counsel. The Judicial Council may, at its discretion, have legal counsel present to advise.

Section 4 - Decisions of Judicial Council

  1. Disciplinary decisions of the Judicial Council shall be by majority vote; by secret ballot if requested by a majority of the council; and presented in writing that clearly states the findings of fact and any disciplinary action. A failure of secrecy shall not invalidate the decision. The decision shall be filed with the Secretary, who shall transmit a copy of the decision to the complainant and the respondent within fifteen days after it is filed. For decisions other than acquittal, discipline may include, but not be limited to, censure, suspension, probation, and expulsion.
  2. Within thirty days after the decision has been filed with the Secretary, either party may petition the Judicial Council for a rehearing, solely on the ground of newly discovered material evidence which the petitioner could not, with reasonable diligence, have discovered and produced at the original hearing. The petition must be filed in writing with the Secretary. No more than one Petition for Rehearing may be filed by any party in a case.
  3. The Secretary will deliver copies of the Petition for Rehearing to each party with notice that a written reply may be filed with the Secretary within fifteen days. At the end of the fifteen-day response period, the Secretary will provide each member of the Judicial Council with a complete set of the documents related to the Petition for Rehearing. Within fifteen days after receipt of the documents, the Judicial Council will meet by telephone conference call to consider whether to grant or deny the Petition. Following that meeting, the Secretary shall inform the respondent and the complainant.

Section 5 - Preliminary Judicial Determination

If the Judicial Council believes that the disciplined member may resort to legal action because of suspension or expulsion, it may specify that the suspension or expulsion shall become effective upon entry of the judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction in a suit by the Association for declaratory relief.

Section 6 - General Provisions

  1. Any party to a disciplinary proceeding may file with the Secretary a written request for disqualification of a member of the Judicial Council for cause and stating the grounds for disqualification. Any grounds for disqualification of which the party then has knowledge are deemed to be waived, unless the request is filed before the Judicial Council renders its decision. If a majority of the members of the Judicial Council finds any valid ground for disqualification, or finds any other facts that may prevent a member of the Judicial Council from rendering an impartial decision or may create the appearance that the member will not do so, that member will be disqualified.
  2. The Judicial Council will not be bound by the technical rules of evidence employed in legal proceedings. The Judicial Council, in its sole discretion, may accept or reject any evidence it deems appropriate.
  3. In any proceeding, a transcript may be made at the discretion of the Judicial Council.
  4. Any notice required to be given or paper required to be served may be given or served by certified mail, registered mail, postage pre-paid return receipt requested, or courier to the last recorded address. If mailed, the notice shall be deemed to be served, filed, or given when mailed. Notice of any hearing shall include the names of the members of the Judicial Council and, except for an adjourned hearing, shall be given not less than ten days before the date of the hearing.
  5. Communications shall be directed to the Secretary who shall receive, file, and distribute all documents or other papers as appropriate.
  6. The complainant and the respondent will pay their own expenses and those of their witnesses to participate in hearings.


Section 7 - Summary Proceedings

In each instance in which the Judicial Council determines to discipline a member due to having been convicted of a felony by any court of competent jurisdiction, the member shall be notified that he or she shall be expelled from the Association and shall lose all related rights and privileges sixty days after such notification, unless the member demonstrates in writing to the Judicial Council that there is a genuine issue as to any material fact with respect to whether the member has been determined to be guilty. Absent such demonstration, the member shall have no automatic right to a hearing, notwithstanding any other provision in these rules.



Section 8 - Membership Reinstatement Following Expulsion

AVMA members who are expelled from membership for grounds listed in Article II, Section 5.a.2 or 3 of the AVMA Bylaws, are eligible to reapply for membership after completing all requirements of any criminal sentence, including without limitation any period of parole or probation, or reinstatement of the license to practice veterinary medicine by the appropriate licensing authority, or both as the case may be.  In all cases where an expelled member is seeking membership reinstatement, including circumstances where the individual does not seek reinstatement of a license to practice veterinary medicine, the Judicial Council will review the application and may conduct any investigation deemed necessary to determine whether reinstatement of membership is appropriate.


Section 9 - Confidentiality

The Judicial Council will maintain as confidential all complaints, investigatory documents, hearing transcripts, notes, discussions, minutes, decisions, and all other disciplinary proceeding materials.  Disciplinary decisions of the Council will be provided to the complainant and the respondent, but the Council will encourage both parties to keep the decision confidential.

EB April, 2012