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(a) Any person who is a resident of the city or is doing or attempting to do business with the city may file a complaint with the board. The complaint shall be in writing, signed and dated, and include an address and telephone number. All complaints shall be sworn to by a notary public and filed with the office of the city attorney, except for any referral from the fraud coordination committee pursuant to the city’s fraud control policy. Complaints shall describe in detail the act or acts complained of and the specific section(s) of the respective subchapter in this chapter that have been allegedly violated.
(b) All complaints, and any subsequent filings and proceedings before the board, shall remain confidential unless the accused elects to make the complaint public pursuant to §§ 35.025 through 35.036, or unless the accused elects to make the complaint public or the board has issued its report pursuant to §§ 35.050 through 35.059. If the board determines that the complainant (the person who filed the complaint) has violated any confidentiality provisions under this chapter, then the board may immediately dismiss the complaint. Dismissal under this section does not affect the right of the board or any person other than the complainant to initiate a complaint based on the same factual allegations.
(c) After an initial review of the complaint, the board may dismiss any complaint that it finds to be frivolous. A “frivolous” complaint is one which lacks a rational basis in fact or law. No investigation is required if the board determines that a complaint is frivolous on its face, illegible, too indefinite, does not identify the accused, or is unsigned or is not verified by an oath of affirmation. Except for the fraud coordination committee, any person who files a frivolous complaint with the board shall be civilly liable to the person charged for all costs incurred in defending the charge, including, but not limited to, costs and attorney’s fees. In determining if a complaint is frivolous, the board may consider the following:
(1) The timing of the complaint with respect to when the facts supporting the alleged violation became known to the complainant, and with respect to the date of any pending election in which the accused is a candidate or is otherwise involved with that election in any manner, if any;
(2) The nature and type of publicity surrounding the filing of the complaint, and the degree of participation by the complainant in publicizing the fact that a complaint was filed with the board;
(3) The existence and nature of any relationship between the accused and the complainant before the complaint was filed;
(4) If the accused is a candidate for election to office, the existence and nature of any relationship between the complainant and any candidate or group opposing the accused;
(5) Any evidence that the complainant knew or reasonably should have known that the allegations in the complaint were groundless; and
(6) Any evidence of the complainant’s motives in filing the complaint.
(1992 Code, § 12.5-9) (Ord. 24-09, passed 3-16-2009; Ord. 57-12, passed 8-7-2012)