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Rule 19-740. Permanent retired status

(a) Purpose. Permanent retired status is intended to enable an attorney whose alleged conduct (1) meets the criteria set forth in section (b) of this Rule and (2) was predominantly the product of the attorney's ill health or decline, to retire permanently from the practice of law with dignity and to ensure the protection of the public. Permanent retired status is not a sanction, and no record of any investigation by Bar Counsel, documents associated therewith, or proceedings in connection with the determination that the attorney be placed on permanent retired status, shall be made public except with the written consent of the attorney, a duly authorized representative of the attorney, or, upon good cause shown, by the Court of Appeals.

(b) Criteria. Upon completing an investigation and upon agreement of the attorney, Bar Counsel may recommend to the Commission that the attorney be placed on permanent retired status if Bar Counsel concludes that:

(1) the attorney is the subject of a complaint or allegation which if found meritorious, could lead to the attorney being disciplined or placed on inactive status;

(2) the alleged conduct was predominantly a result of the attorney's ill health or decline;

(3) the alleged conduct does not involve misconduct so serious that, if proven, would likely result in the suspension or disbarment of the attorney or placement of the attorney on inactive status;

(4) the alleged conduct does not reflect adversely on the attorney's honesty or involve conduct that could be the basis for an immediate Petition for Disciplinary or Remedial Action pursuant to Rules 19-737 or 19-738;

(5) the alleged conduct either did not result in actual loss or harm to a client or other person, or, if it did, full restitution has been made;

(6) because of the effect of the attorney's ill health or decline on the attorney's ability to comply fully with the Maryland Attorneys' Rules of Professional Conduct, the attorney should no longer engage in the practice of law; and

(7) the attorney has taken all appropriate actions to wind-up his or her practice or will do so within a time established by the Commission in any approval of permanent retired status.

(c) Action by Commission. If the attorney agrees to permanent retired status, Bar Counsel or the attorney may submit any explanatory materials that either believes relevant and shall submit any further material that the Commission requests. Upon submission, the Commission may take any of the following actions:

(1) the Commission may approve permanent retired status for the attorney, if satisfied that it is appropriate under the circumstances, in which event the attorney, upon notice of the Commission's written approval and upon the date specified by the Commission, shall take the actions set forth in section (e) of this Rule, and Bar Counsel shall terminate the disciplinary or remedial proceeding; or

(2) the Commission may disapprove permanent retired status for the attorney if not satisfied that it is appropriate under the circumstances and direct Bar Counsel to proceed in another manner consistent with the Rules in this Chapter.

(d) Effect of Disapproval. If permanent retired status is not approved by the Commission, any investigation or proceeding shall resume as if permanent retired status had not been recommended, and the fact that permanent retired status was recommended or that it was not approved may not be entered into the record of any proceeding.

(e) Effect of Permanent Retired Status. An attorney who has been placed on permanent retired status:

(1) shall, upon receipt of the Commission's determination that the attorney be placed on permanent retired status, cease the practice of law in this State and in all other jurisdictions in which the attorney was admitted on or before the date specified by the Commission;

(2) shall, by such date, notify the Client Protection Fund, in writing, of the Commission's approval of permanent retired status, and shall include with such notice a copy of the Commission's approval;

(3) shall not apply for admission to the bar of this State or any other jurisdiction or for revocation of permanent retired status; and

(4) shall, by such date, comply with the provisions of Rule 19-742 (b).

Committee note: The name of a permanently retired attorney must be removed from the letterhead of any law firm with which the attorney was associated, but if the attorney's last name was part of a firm name that consisted of two or more last names, the firm is not required to remove the last name of the attorney from the name of the firm.

(f) Extension. Upon a showing of good cause and consideration of any objection by Bar Counsel, the Commission may permit an extension of the period to complete one or more of the tasks itemized in section (e) of this Rule.