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2010-03-22-01

The Supreme Court of South Carolina

In re: Amendments to the South Carolina Appellate Court Rules


ORDER


The Office of Commission Counsel has proposed several amendments to the Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement and the Rules for Judicial Disciplinary Enforcement.  First, Commission Counsel seeks amendments to Rule 14(c), RLDE, Rule 413, SCACR, and Rule 14(c), RJDE, Rule 502, SCACR, to provide a default method for service of formal charges where an attorney or judge cannot be located.  Provided the lawyer or judge is served by registered or certified mail at his or her last known address and at the address the lawyer or judge provided to the South Carolina Bar in accordance with Rule 410(e), SCACR, if those addresses differ, we agree this method of service is proper.  We also remind the Bench and Bar that, pursuant to Rule 410(e), all members are required to provide the South Carolina Bar with any change of address within ten days of such change.

Second, Commission Counsel seeks amendments to Rule 26(d), RLDE, Rule 413, SCACR, and Rule 26(d), RJDE, Rule 502, SCACR, to extend the time a hearing panel has to forward formal charges to the Court from thirty to sixty days.  Commission Counsel states this amendment is necessary so that parties have an opportunity to provide a hearing panel with proposed findings and/or legal memoranda to aid the panel in making a decision.

Finally, Commission Counsel seeks an amendment to Rule 31(b)(1), RLDE, Rule 413, SCACR.  This amendment permits the Chair or Vice Chair of the Commission on Lawyer Conduct to issue orders compelling suspended or disbarred lawyers to cooperate with attorneys appointed to protect clients' interests.  Currently, only an investigative panel has the power to issue such orders; however, investigative panels only meet once per month. The failure to promptly act in some cases could result in harm to clients.

Pursuant to Article V, § 4, of the South Carolina Constitution, we hereby amend the South Carolina Appellate Court Rules as set forth in the attachment to this Order.  The amendments are effective immediately.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

s/Jean H. Toal                                    C.J.

s/Costa M. Pleicones                        J.

s/Donald W. Beatty                            J.

s/John W. Kittredge                           J.

s/Kaye G. Hearn                                 J.

Columbia, South Carolina
March 22, 2010


Amendments to the Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement
and the Rules for Judicial Disciplinary Enforcement

RLDE (Rule 413, SCACR):

RULE 14
TIME, SERVICE AND FILING

.     .     .

(c) Service.  Service upon the lawyer of formal charges in any disciplinary or incapacity proceedings shall be made by personal service upon the lawyer or the lawyer's counsel by any person authorized by the chair of the Commission, or by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, to the lawyer's last known address.  If service cannot be so made, service shall be deemed complete when deposited in the U.S. Mail, provided the formal charges were sent by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, to the address the lawyer provided to the South Carolina Bar pursuant to Rule 410(e), SCACR, and to the lawyer’s last known address, if those addresses differ.  Service of all other documents shall be made in the manner provided by Rule 262(b), SCACR.

RULE 26
HEARING

.     .     .

(d) Submission of the Report.  Within 60 days after the filing of the transcript, the hearing panel shall file with the Supreme Court the record of the proceeding and a report setting forth a written summary, proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law, any minority opinions, and recommendations for dismissal, letter of caution, sanction(s), or transfer to lawyer incapacity inactive status.  The hearing panel shall at the same time serve the report upon the respondent and disciplinary counsel.

RULE 31
APPOINTMENT OF ATTORNEY TO PROTECT CLIENTS' INTERESTS WHEN LAWYER IS TRANSFERRED TO INCAPACITY INACTIVE STATUS, SUSPENDED, DISBARRED, DISAPPEARS OR DIES

.     .     .

(b) Duties of Appointed Attorney.  The appointed attorney shall:

(1) Take custody of the lawyer's files and trust or escrow accounts. The chair or vice chair may issue such orders as may be necessary to assist the appointed attorney in obtaining custody over such files and accounts, to include orders compelling the lawyer or a third party to take specific action regarding the files and accounts.  The willful failure to comply with such an order may be punished as a contempt of the Supreme Court.  A party who wishes to challenge such an order must immediately seek review of the order by petition to the Supreme Court.

RJDE (Rule 502, SCACR):

RULE 14
TIME, SERVICE AND FILING

.     .     .

(c) Service.  Service upon the judge of formal charges in any disciplinary or incapacity proceedings shall be made by personal service upon the judge or the judge's counsel by any person authorized by the chair of the Commission, or by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, to the judge's last known address.  If service cannot be so made, service shall be deemed complete when deposited in the U.S. Mail, provided the formal charges were sent by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, to the address the judge provided to the South Carolina Bar pursuant to Rule 410(e), SCACR, and to the judge's last known address, if those addresses differ.  Service of all other documents shall be made in the manner provided by Rule 262(b), SCACR.

 

RULE 26
HEARING

.     .     .

(d) Submission of the Report.  Within 60 days after the filing of the transcript, the hearing panel shall file with the Supreme Court the record of the proceeding and a report setting forth a written summary, proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law, any minority opinions, and recommendations for dismissal, letter of caution, sanction(s), transfer to judicial incapacity inactive status, or removal or retirement based on incapacity.  The hearing panel shall at the same time serve the report upon the respondent and disciplinary counsel.