Staff Report Re: Business Practices Task Force Recommendations to Pro Standards
At the September 2005 C.A.R. Directors Meetings, the Business Practices Task Force(“BPTF”) made the following recommendations to the Professional Standards Committee:First, a new expedited ethics complaint process. Because members said that a major reason for not pursuing ethics complaints was that the process was too cumbersome and time-consuming, this proposal recommends that the Professional Standards Committee develop an expedited ethics hearing process to shorten the time-line and reduce paper work, which would be optional for local associations, to make the procedure quicker and easier, but that also complies with NAR policy.Second, a process that would “put the teeth” into ethics procedures. Because 61% of members said that they had experience with another member that they thoughtwas a violation of the Code of Ethics, but only 4% of members actually filed a complaint, this proposal recommends that the Professional Standards Committee develop a method that would enhance the ethics complaint and hearing process to make it less likely that a violator will escape discipline for unethical conduct.In response to the BPTF recommendations, the Committee asked staff to develop ideas to implement the recommendations. Below is staffs’ preliminary list of possible programs to fulfill the goals of the BPTF recommendations.Keeping in mind that implementation ideas have not yet been fleshed-out, an e-mail address has been set up for Committee members’ comments. After theideas below are discussed at the January 26 meeting, please e-mail your suggestions for implementation firstname.lastname@example.org, no later than May 1st. Staff will, then, provide Committee members with possible implementation guidelines for the ideas, prior to the June Committee meeting, so that implementation can be discussed at that June meeting.Expedited Ethics Procedure
Citation system (similar to MLS). For certain common, standard violations, there would be a citation fee schedule similar to MLS. If the respondent chooses not to pay the citation, he/she can request a full hearing.
Traffic School concept. Have a list of citations for which attendance at a class would be sufficient. Benefit of attending class is that violation is kept in file, only for purpose of keeping track of number of classes attended, because – like traffic school – REALTOR®® can only attend a limited number of times before a harsher sanction is imposed and it becomes a part of member’s file. Violation could not be used for increasing sanction for a later violation or for publication.
Mediation before ethics – w/settlement agreement. Mediation would be handled in same way as for arbitration. If there is a settlement, result would be anenforceable settlement agreement, with built in sanction for non-compliance.
Night Court w/Circuit Judge. Hearings conducted same day each month — parties must agree to waive all normal notice requirements. The hearings would be full due process hearings before a “Circuit Judge.” The Circuit Judge could be a volunteer who travels all over his/her region.
Citation & Plea Bargain. A person who receives a citation per #1 above can come to Night Court, #4 above, to argue mitigating circumstances – respondent must admit wrong-doing, but can argue for a lesser fine.
Putting the Teeth in Ethics
Ethics Advocates (“EA”). Tweak role of Grievance Committee, or develop other appropriate committee, so they can act as an EA, helping complainant draft complaint or respondent draft response and representing the respective parties at hearing, at the option of the party.
Rent-a-Judge. Like Circuit Judge above, the Rent-a-Judge would be a specially trained volunteer, who would travel all over the state to Boards in need of help, to hear “hot potato” cases. A stipend and travel expenses would be paid by the Board using the Judge’s services.
Ethics Venue. Complainant has the choice of filing an ethics complaint at respondent’s home Boardor where property is located.
Grievance Committee subcommittee investigates all anonymous complaints. Subcommittee would decide whether complaint should be pursued, with Grievance Committee as complainant.
Respondent/Broker notification. When a subcommittee of Grievance Committee investigates anonymous complaints, the respondent and his/her broker would be notified, even if the complaint is not pursued.
1. Mock hearings at Pro Standards Committee meetings.
2. Spotlight Boards with successful pro standards program at Pro Standards Committee meetings.
3. Ethics hotline (similar to state bar). A hotline would be set up to answer members questions about ethics.
4. Failure to file arbitration within 180 days results in sanction.