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South Carolina
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RULE 8.3: REPORTING PROFESSIONAL MISCONDUCT

(a)  A lawyer who is arrested for or has been charged by way of indictment, information or complaint with a serious crime shall inform the Commission on Lawyer Conduct in writing within fifteen days of being arrested or being charged by way of indictment, information or complaint.

(b)  A lawyer who knows that another lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, shall inform the appropriate professional authority.

(c)  A lawyer who knows that a judge has committed a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct that raises a substantial question as to the judge's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness for office in other respects shall inform the appropriate authority.

(d)  This Rule does not require disclosure of information otherwise protected by Rule 1.6.

(e)  Inquiries or information received by the South Carolina Bar Lawyers Helping Lawyers Committee or an equivalent county bar association committee regarding the need for treatment for alcohol, drug abuse or depression, or by the South Carolina Bar law office management assistance program or an equivalent county bar association program regarding a lawyer seeking the program assistance, shall not be disclosed to the disciplinary authority without written permission of the lawyer receiving assistance. �Any such inquiry or information shall enjoy the same confidence as information protected by the attorney-client privilege under applicable law.

Comment

[1]  Self regulation of the legal profession requires that members of the profession initiate disciplinary investigation when they know of a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct. �Lawyers have a similar obligation with respect to judicial misconduct. �An apparently isolated violation may indicate a pattern of misconduct that only a disciplinary investigation can uncover. �Reporting a violation is especially important where the victim is unlikely to discover the offense. �The South Carolina version of paragraph (c) modifies the model version by specifically including "honesty" and "trustworthiness" to parallel the requirement of paragraph (b).

[2]  A report about misconduct is not required where it would involve violation of Rule 1.6. �However, a lawyer should encourage a client to consent to disclosure where prosecution would not substantially prejudice the client's interests.

[3]  If a lawyer were obliged to report every violation of the Rules, the failure to report any violation would itself be a professional offense. �Such a requirement existed in many jurisdictions but proved to be unenforceable. �This Rule limits the reporting obligation to those offenses that a self regulating profession must vigorously endeavor to prevent. �A measure of judgment is, therefore, required in complying with the provisions of this Rule. �The term "substantial" refers to the seriousness of the possible offense and not the quantum of evidence of which the lawyer is aware. �A report should be made to the bar disciplinary agency unless some other agency, such as a peer review agency, is more appropriate in the circumstances. �Similar considerations apply to the reporting of judicial misconduct.

[4]  The duty to report professional misconduct does not apply to a lawyer retained to represent a lawyer whose professional conduct is in question. �Such a situation is governed by the Rules applicable to the client lawyer relationship.

[5]  Paragraph (e) encourages lawyers to seek assistance from the South Carolina Bar Lawyers Helping Lawyers Committee, from a South Carolina Bar law office management assistance program, or from an equivalent county bar association program without fear of being reported for violating the Rules of Professional Conduct. �Information about a lawyer's or judge's misconduct or fitness may be received by a lawyer in the course of that lawyer's participation in an approved lawyers or judges assistance program. In that circumstance, providing for an exception to the reporting requirements of paragraphs (b) and (c) of this Rule encourages lawyers and judges to seek treatment through such a program. �Conversely, without such an exception, lawyers and judges may hesitate to seek assistance from these programs, which may then result in additional harm to their professional careers and additional injury to the welfare of clients and the public. �These Rules do not otherwise address the confidentiality of information received by a lawyer or judge participating in an approved lawyers assistance program; such an obligation, however, may be imposed by the rules of the program or other law.