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9.4 Procedure for Complaint Evaluation and Appeals

Policy: The American Board of Optometry (ABO) strives to protect the integrity of its Board Certification by providing a fair certification process, from application submission to the awarding of Diplomate status and through the maintenance of certification process. The Judicial and Ethics Committee is responsible for investigating any complaint or accusation made. The accused must be notified of the charge at least 30 days before action is taken to provide him or her enough time to provide a defense to the committee.

Procedure:

  1. Following a complaint, the Judicial and Ethics Committee must notify the accused of the complaint in writing. The accused then has 30 days to build a written defense of his or her actions or inactions to present to the committee. Lack of a response from the accused will be taken as an admittance of guilt, which should be made clear to the accused.
  2. If a written defense is submitted, the Judicial and Ethics Committee will review it and discuss the possibility that a violation against the ABO and Board Certification was made. If the Judicial and Ethics Committee determines there is probable cause, a hearing date for the accused is set no less than 30 days from this decision.
  3. The accused may have legal representation and will have these 90 days to prepare for his or her formal hearing.
  4. The Judicial and Ethics Committee designates a Director not on the committee to act as an investigator. He or she will contact all parties who may have information on the case and will attempt to learn as much about the complaint as possible, including finding viable witnesses and evidence.
  5.  At the formal hearing, each side is allowed to have witnesses. Opening and closing arguments are also allowed. A recording of the hearing will be made to allow the Judicial and Ethics Committee to review the proceedings at a later time.
  6. Following the hearing, the Judicial and Ethics Committee will privately discuss evidence supplied by each side. A vote is taken to determine if a violation was made. A majority vote is needed. If it is determined that a violation did take place, another vote is taken to determine disciplinary action. Again, a majority vote is needed.  The Committee must then report their findings to the Board of Directors.
  7. If the Judicial and Ethics Committee determines a violation has been made and the Board of Directors concurs to take action, the accused may make a formal written appeal within 30 days. The Committee then makes a decision to either uphold its original decision or makes a new one. A majority vote is needed.
  8. If new information or evidence is presented in this appeal, the committee may decide to discuss the new findings with the Board of Directors and reconsider the action. An investigation must take place to determine if the information is valid. If it is, a rehearing date will be set.