COMPLAINT PROCESS AND DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS
The Origin Of A Discipline Case Although the Board has been empowered by statute to administer and enforce the Practice Act, a formal complaint must be filed against a licensee or an entity before any action can be taken. Pursuant to state regulation 20 CSR 2145-3.010 (1), "any member of the public, or the profession, or any federal, state, or local official" may file a complaint with the Board. In addition, the division director or any Board staff may file a complaint in the same manner as any member of the public. Further, a Board member may file a complaint under this rule, but the member then must excuse him or herself from all future deliberation or activity concerning the matters alleged within that complaint. All complaints must be in writing and identify the complainant by name and address. Further, complaints must be mailed or delivered to the Board's office. Complaints may be based upon personal knowledge, or upon information and belief received from other sources. 20 CSR 2145-3.010.
The complaint must allege acts or practices which may constitute a violation of § 256.450 through § 256.483, RSMo. The Board processes each complaint to make at least that determination. Thereafter, the Board has three options: (1) close the complaint because it does not warrant discipline; (2) investigate the alleged acts or practices further to determine if discipline would be appropriate; or (3) refer the case to the Attorney General's Office to seek discipline. Assuming the Board receives a valid complaint and ultimately refers the case to the Attorney General's Office to seek discipline, the two possible routes to disciplining the licensee's license are the formal and informal processes.
Formal Process In the formal process, the Board, through the Attorney General's Office, drafts a complaint alleging the violations reported in the complaint. The Board files that complaint with the Administrative Hearing Commission ("AHC"), a neutral body designed in part to hear cases involving a licensing agency's discipline of a licensee. After the Board files a complaint, the AHC schedules an evidentiary hearing to determine whether cause for discipline exists and gives the licensee notice of this hearing. Before the hearing, the parties have the opportunity to conduct most forms of discovery available in circuit courts. Also before the hearing, the parties can attempt to agree to findings of fact, conclusions of law, and an appropriate discipline for the acts in the complaint. If the parties can agree to settle the case, they usually sign a joint stipulation, submit it to the AHC for approval, and if it is approved, the AHC cancels the evidentiary hearing and issues a consent order. If the parties cannot agree to settle the case, the AHC conducts an evidentiary hearing. Thereafter, the AHC issues its order containing its findings of fact and conclusions of law. If the AHC does not believe the licensee is subject to discipline, the case is over, unless the Board believes there is cause to appeal. But if the Board carried its burden of demonstrating the licensee committed acts that subject that licensee's license to discipline, the AHC finds cause for discipline, thus authorizing the Board to discipline the licensee's license. Thereafter, the Board itself holds a disciplinary hearing to determine the appropriate discipline. The licensee is permitted to appear and present evidence relevant to the issue of discipline, which generally consists of mitigating and extenuating circumstances evidence, and may request that the Board consider a particular type of discipline. The Board ultimately makes the final decision as to the appropriate level of discipline. After the disciplinary hearing, the Board issues an order setting forth its discipline. This final order is subject to appeal to the circuit court level within 30 days after mailing or delivery of the notice of the Board's final decision.
Informal Process In this process, the Board does not file a complaint with the Administrative Hearing Commission. Instead, the Board begins this process by sending the licensee a letter. This letter or an accompanying draft complaint outlines the acts and practices the Board believes the licensee committed and the relevant law indicating that those acts and practices subject the licensee to discipline. No sooner than thirty (30) days after sending the letter and/or draft complaint, the Board sends the licensee a settlement agreement containing the factual allegations for which discipline is sought and the disciplinary terms the Board believes is appropriate. The Board then allows the licensee at least sixty (60) days to review the agreement. This procedure is provided for in section 621.045, RSMo. If the licensee agrees with the facts and terms, the licensee signs the agreement and returns it to the Attorney General's Office. The Board's attorney and executive director sign the agreement and then send executed copies to the licensee. The agreement becomes effective when all the parties have signed the document or at such alter date as specified in the agreement. The licensee then has the option of appealing the consent agreement to the AHC for review within fifteen (15) days of all the parties signing the agreement. If the licensee appeals the order, the AHC reviews the factual allegations in the agreement to determine if those facts provide cause to discipline the license. If the AHC determines that cause for discipline does exist, they issue a consent order, and the terms of the agreement become effective immediately. If the licensee refuses to sign the consent agreement, the Board simply begins the formal process discussed above.
Current Disciplinary Actions Whenever a licensee is disciplined, that information becomes public record that the Board can publish in its newsletter and its website. To file a complaints against a registrant or entity that may be violating the state statutes or regulations concerning the practice of geology. Please access the appropriate form at the top of this page labeled "Link to Complaint Form". You may also access the "Rules and Statutes" to the right under the Sub Navigation bar. If you need assistance, please contact our office by calling the Board office at  526-7625, or emailing email@example.com. Once the Board has received the completed complaint form, it can review the complaint and consider the proper course to take. The crucial point to remember about the whole process is that the Board can only respond to and begin investigations as a result of formal written complaints.
For complete information regarding these matters, please refer to the Geologist Practice Act and Chapters 536 and 621 of the Missouri Revised Statutes. Please contact our office to receive a complaint packet, which contains a complaint form, instructions for completing the form and a copy of the Practice Act, the state statutes and regulations.