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LEGAL PROFESSION a lawyer who is the target of an investigation is a “party” to the investigative proceedings and is entitled to notice of subpoenas and copies of the subpoenaed documents, the Colorado Supreme Court said on June 16. In re Requests for Investigation of Attorney E., No. 01SA404. While investigating the lawyer’s alleged misconduct regarding statements made about two Colorado judges, the state’s attorney regulation counsel obtained FBI documents describing the investigation of the two judges in connection with their alleged use of cocaine. Those documents were forwarded to the attorney, who filed them in various courts. The judges sought a protective order from the presiding disciplinary judge, seeking to classify the documents as “confidential” and to limit the lawyer’s use of them. The judge granted the request and even barred the regulation counsel’s use of the documents. Reversing and remanding, the state’s top court said that although state civil procedure rules provide that a document obtained during an investigation is confidential, even from the attorney being investigated, the rule is subject to the discovery requirements of civil procedure rule 45. That provision says that notice of subpoenas and all relevant documents must be provided to all “parties.” Not considering an attorney a party to his own investigation would hinder the provision of a visible attorney discipline process and the efficient and fair resolution of minor misconduct, the court said.

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