(a) Peer Review Meetings.

(1) Confidentiality Generally. All communications, whether written or oral, and all non-criminal conduct made or occurring at a meeting of a peer review panel are confidential and not open to public disclosure or inspection. Except as otherwise expressly permitted in this Rule, individuals present at the meeting shall maintain that confidentiality and may not disclose or be compelled to disclose such communications or conduct in any judicial, administrative, or other proceeding.

(2) Privilege. Communications and conduct that are confidential under this Rule are privileged and are not subject to discovery, but information that is otherwise admissible or subject to discovery does not become inadmissible or protected from disclosure solely by reason of its use or occurrence at a peer review meeting.

(b) Other Confidential Material. Except as otherwise provided in this Rule, the records and proceedings listed in this section and the contents of those records and proceedings are (1) confidential and not open to public inspection and (2) may not be disclosed by Bar Counsel, the staff and investigators of the Office of Bar Counsel, any member of the Commission, the staff of the Commission, the Peer Review Committee, any attorney involved in the proceeding, or, in any civil action or proceeding, by the complainant or an attorney for the complainant:

(A) the records of an investigation by Bar Counsel, including the existence and content of any complaint or response, until Bar Counsel files a petition for disciplinary or remedial action pursuant to Rule 19-721;

(B) the records and proceedings of a Peer Review Panel;

(C) information that is the subject of a protective order;

(D) the contents of a prior private reprimand or Bar Counsel reprimand pursuant to the Attorney Disciplinary Rules in effect prior to July 1, 2001, but the fact that a private or Bar Counsel reprimand was issued and the facts underlying the reprimand may be disclosed to a Peer Review Panel in a proceeding against the attorney alleging similar misconduct;

Committee note: Disclosure under subsection (b)(2)(D) of this Rule is not dependent upon a finding of relevance under Rule 19-720 (c)(1).

(E) the contents of a warning issued by the Commission as provided in Rule 19-715 (d);

(F) the contents of a Conditional Diversion Agreement as provided in Rule 19-716 (j)(2);

(G) the records and proceedings of the Commission on matters that are confidential under this Rule;

(H) a Petition for Disciplinary or Remedial Action based solely on the alleged incapacity of an attorney and records and proceedings, other than proceedings in the Court of Appeals, on that petition; and

(I) a petition for an audit of an attorney's accounts filed pursuant to Rule 19-731 and records and proceedings, other than proceedings in the Court of Appeals, on that petition.

(c) Public Proceedings and Records. The following records and proceedings are public and open to inspection:

(1) except as otherwise provided in subsection (b)(2)(H) of this Rule, a Petition for Disciplinary or Remedial Action, all proceedings on that petition, and all documents or other items admitted into evidence at any hearing on the petition;

(2) an affidavit filed pursuant to Rule 19-736 that consents to discipline and an order that disbars, suspends, or reprimands the attorney by consent;

(3) a reprimand issued by the Commission pursuant to Rule 19-717; and

(4) except as otherwise provided by order of the Court of Appeals, all proceedings under this Chapter in the Court of Appeals.

(d) Required Disclosures by Bar Counsel.

(1) Reprimand by Commission. If an attorney is reprimanded by the Commission, Bar Counsel shall notify the Clerk of the Court of Appeals.

(2) Conviction of a Serious Crime. If Bar Counsel has received and verified information that an attorney has been convicted of a serious crime, Bar Counsel shall notify the Commission and the Clerk of the Court of Appeals.

(e) Required Disclosures by Clerk of the Court of Appeals. If an attorney resigns or is reprimanded, convicted of a serious crime, or, by order of the Court of Appeals, disbarred, suspended, reinstated, or transferred to inactive status, the Clerk of the Court of Appeals of Maryland shall notify the National Lawyer Regulatory Data Bank of the American Bar Association and the disciplinary authority of every other jurisdiction in which the attorney is admitted to practice. In addition, the Clerk shall comply with Rule 19-761 upon entry of each order of the Court by which an attorney is disbarred, suspended, reinstated, or transferred to inactive status.

(f) Permitted Disclosures.

(1) Written Waiver of Attorney. If the attorney has signed a written waiver of confidentiality, the Commission or Bar Counsel may disclose information to the extent permitted by the waiver.

(2) To Investigate a Complaint; Prepare a Defense to a Complaint; Prepare for a Hearing. The parties to a disciplinary or remedial action may use confidential information other than the records and proceedings of a Peer Review Panel to the extent reasonably necessary to investigate a complaint, prepare a defense to a complaint, or prepare for a public hearing in the action but shall preserve the confidentiality of the information in all other respects.

(3) Communications With Complainant. Upon request of a complainant, Bar Counsel may disclose to the complainant the status of an investigation and of any disciplinary or remedial proceedings resulting from information from the complainant.

(4) Requests by Authorities. Upon receiving a request that complies with this subsection, the Commission or Bar Counsel may disclose the pendency, subject matter, status, and disposition of disciplinary or remedial proceedings involving an attorney or former attorney that did not result in dismissal of a complaint. The request must be made in writing by a judicial nominating commission, a bar admission authority, the President of the United States, the Governor of a state, or a committee of the General Assembly of Maryland or of the United States Congress. The requesting entity must represent that it is considering the nomination, appointment, confirmation, approval, or admission to practice of the attorney or former attorney, and that the information will be treated as confidential and without the consent of the attorney will not be copied or disclosed to anyone other than the requesting entity.

(5) Request by Client Protection Fund. Upon written request by the Client Protection Fund, Bar Counsel or the Commission may permit an authorized officer of the Fund to review and copy specific records relating to an attorney that are relevant to a claim pending before the Fund. Unless the Court orders otherwise, the Fund shall maintain the confidentiality of any records it has reviewed or copied.

(6) Explanatory Statements. The Chair of the Commission may issue a brief explanatory statement necessary to correct any public misperception about actual or possible proceedings.

(7) Court Order or Grand Jury Subpoena. Bar Counsel shall comply with an order of a court or a subpoena issued by a duly constituted grand jury of this State or the United States to produce records and disclose confidential information concerning the attorney.

(8) Law Enforcement Officials. With the approval of the Chair of the Commission, Bar Counsel may provide to law enforcement and prosecuting officials information involving criminal activity.

(9) Other Disciplinary Authorities. With the approval of the Chair of the Commission, Bar Counsel may provide to the disciplinary authority of any other jurisdiction in which an attorney is admitted to practice records and other confidential information concerning the attorney.

(10) Summarized Information. In order to improve the administration of justice, the Commission and Bar Counsel may publish reports and summaries of confidential investigations, charges, and disciplinary or remedial proceedings, provided that the identity of attorneys, complainants, and witnesses is not revealed.

Attorney Grievance defense attorney specializes in defending lawyers in disciplinary proceedings before the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission and the D.C. Bar's Board on Professional Responsibility involving professional misconduct, legal ethics, disbarment, suspensions of law licenses, petitions for disciplinary action, reprimands and sanctions for unethical conduct. If you receive a letter from Bar Counsel Lydia Lawless, Disciplinary Counsel Hamilton Fox, or from any attorney disciplinary board in Maryland or the District of Columbia, retain experienced attorneys with expertise in lawyer discipline and breach of ethics cases to avoid sanctions for professional misconduct. We help lawyers avoid disbarment, suspension, reprimands, censure and informal admonitions by drafting responses to client grievances and ethical complaints; representing lawyers in peer reviews, evidentiary hearings, and oral arguments before the BPR and the Court of Appeals; filing petitions to reinstate an attorney's license to practice law; conducting law firm ethical compliance audits; and drafting legal ethics opinions to protect lawyers from ethics charges. In many cases, disciplinary proceedings may be dismissed, dismissed with a warning, or result in a conditional diversion agreement with Bar Counsel to rectify misconduct. Lawyers may need help in managing their law firm attorney escrow IOLTA trust account and complying with attorney trust accounting rules to avoid charges of ethical misconduct. Do not represent yourself in responding to an attorney grievance, law firm client complaint, or other allegation of ethical impropriety. Attorney grievance defense counsel may help you comply with legal ethics rules, avoid sanctions like suspension or disbarment, and avoid future attorney grievances.


By The Lawyer's Lawyers | Kramer & Connolly and Irwin R. Kramer who are responsible for the content of this informational website.   This website is designed for lawyers faced with attorney grievances. As cases do differ, past performance does not guarantee future results.