ELC 10.15 BIFURCATED HEARINGS (a) When Allowed. Upon written motion filed no later than 60 days before the scheduled hearing, either party may request that the disciplinary proceeding be bifurcated. The hearing officer or panel must weigh the reasons for bifurcation against any increased cost and delay, inconvenience to participants, duplication of evidence, and any other factors, and may grant the motion only if it appears necessary to insure a fair and orderly hearing because the respondent has a record of prior disciplinary sanction or because either party would suffer significant prejudice or harm. (b) Procedure. (1) Violation Hearing. (A) A bifurcated proceeding begins with an initial hearing to make factual determinations and legal conclusions as to the violations charged, including the mental state necessary for the violations. During this stage of the proceedings, evidence of a prior disciplinary record is not admissible to prove the respondent’s character or to impeach the respondent’s credibility. However, evidence of prior acts of misconduct may be admitted for other purposes, such as proof of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident. (B) At the conclusion of that hearing, the hearing officer or panel files findings and conclusions. (i) If no violation is found, the proceedings are concluded, the findings and conclusions are the decision of the hearing officer or panel, and the sanction hearing is canceled. (ii) If any violation is found, after the expiration of the time for a motion to amend under rule 10.16(c), or after ruling on that motion, the findings and conclusions as to those violations are not subject to reconsideration by the hearing officer. (2) Sanction Hearing. If any violation is found, a second hearing is held to determine the appropriate sanction recommendation. During the sanction hearing, evidence of the existence or lack of any prior disciplinary record is admissible. No evidence may be admitted to contradict or challenge the findings and conclusions as to the violations. At the conclusion of the sanction hearing, the hearing officer or panel files findings and conclusions as to a sanction recommendation, that, together with the previously filed findings and conclusions, is the decision of the hearing officer or panel. (3) Timing. If a motion for bifurcation is granted, the violation hearing is held on the date previously set for hearing. Upon granting a motion to bifurcate, the hearing officer must set a date and place for the sanction hearing. Absent extraordinary circumstances, the sanction hearing should be held no later than 45 days after the anticipated last day of the violation hearing. [Adopted effective October 1, 2002.]
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