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South Carolina
JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT
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RULE 21
DISCIPLINE BY CONSENT

(a) Agreement. At any stage in the proceedings, the lawyer and disciplinary counsel may agree to the imposition of a stated sanction(s) or the issuance of a letter of caution in exchange for the lawyer's admission of any or all of the allegations of misconduct involved in the proceedings. If the agreement is entered into after the filing of the formal charges, the agreement shall admit or deny the allegations contained in the formal charges. If the agreement is entered into before the filing of the formal charges, the agreement shall contain the specific factual allegations which the lawyer admits he or she has committed and the applicable provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct or other ethical or disciplinary provisions that the lawyer has violated. The agreement shall be signed by disciplinary counsel, by the lawyer and, if the lawyer is represented by counsel, by the lawyer's counsel. The signature of the lawyer's counsel on the agreement shall indicate that counsel has advised the lawyer regarding the agreement and that counsel believes the lawyer is voluntarily entering into the agreement with a full understanding of the effect of the agreement.

(b) Affidavit. The lawyer shall also sign an affidavit stating that:

(1) the lawyer consents to the sanction(s) or letter of caution;

(2) the consent is voluntarily given;

(3) the matters admitted in the agreement and the facts stated in the affidavit are true.

(c) Submission to Panel. The agreement and affidavit shall be submitted to an investigative panel if formal charges have not been filed, or to a hearing panel if formal charges have been filed on any of the allegations. Provided, if formal charges have been filed but not heard, an investigative panel can consider the proposed agreement and affidavit if the parties both agree in writing. The panel shall either reject the agreement, or submit the agreement and affidavit to the Supreme Court if it determines the agreement should be accepted. An investigative panel shall, however, finally approve or disapprove an agreement for an admonition, a deferred discipline agreement or a letter of caution and, if approved, shall impose the sanction or issue the letter of caution without submitting the matter to the Supreme Court.

(d) Action by Supreme Court. If the panel submits the matter to the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court shall either reject the agreement or issue a decision disciplining the lawyer which shall be based on the agreement. The decision shall comply with the requirements of Rule 27(e).

(e) Effect of Rejection of Agreement. If an agreement is rejected by the panel or the Supreme Court, the proceedings shall continue. The rejected agreement and affidavit shall be withdrawn and shall not be used against the lawyer in any further proceedings.

(f) Confidentiality. The agreement, affidavit and any statement or other documents submitted in mitigation shall remain confidential until the Supreme Court enters a decision disciplining the lawyer at which time the agreement, affidavit and any statement or other documents submitted in mitigation shall be available to the public. An agreement and affidavit which are rejected or which result in the imposition of an admonition, a deferred discipline agreement or a letter of caution by an investigative panel, shall not be available to the public at any time, nor shall any statement or other documents in mitigation filed therewith.

(g) Briefs and Oral Arguments. The Supreme Court may require the parties to submit briefs or participate in oral arguments in connection with the agreement. Either the lawyer or disciplinary counsel may move before the Supreme Court for permission for the parties to file briefs, to have oral arguments, or both in connection with the agreement, but the Supreme Court, in its discretion, may proceed to take action on the agreement without briefs, without oral arguments, or without either, not withstanding a request from one or both of the parties.

Amended by Order dated August 20, 2003, effective September 1, 2003. These amended inserted a new sentence after the first sentence of Rule 21(c) and added a new section (g).