(a) Purpose. On information that an attorney has a physical or mental disability or impairment that adversely affects the attorney's ability to practice law, Bar Counsel may conduct an investigation to determine whether the attorney should be transferred to disability inactive status. Transfer to disability inactive status is not a form of discipline but is designed to ensure the protection of the public and, to the extent possible, rehabilitation of the attorney.

(b) Grounds for Transfer. An attorney may be transferred to disability inactive status for any of the following reasons:

(1) The attorney has been judicially determined to be mentally incompetent or to require a guardian of the person for any of the reasons stated in Code, Estates and Trusts Article, § 13-705 (b), or, in accordance with law, has been involuntarily admitted to a facility for inpatient care treatment of a mental disorder;

(2) A physician licensed to practice medicine in the United States with special knowledge or training relating to the nature and causes of the disability or impairment has examined the attorney and determined the attorney is incapacitated as defined by Rule 19-701 (m); or

(3) A circuit court has entered an order appointing a conservator pursuant to Rule 19-734.

(c) Procedure.

(1) Petition to Transfer to Disability Inactive Status; Confidentiality. With the approval of the Chair of the Commission, Bar Counsel may file a petition to transfer an attorney to disability inactive status. The petition shall be supported by (A) a certified copy of the judicial determination or involuntary admission; (B) certification of a suitably licensed or certified examiner or medical doctor that the attorney is incapacitated; or (C) a certified copy of the order appointing a conservator pursuant to Rule 19-734. The petition and all other papers filed in the Court of Appeals shall be sealed and stamped “confidential” in accordance with Rule 19-707 (b)(10).

(2) Show Cause Order; Service. Upon filing of the petition pursuant to subsection (c)(1) of this Rule, the Court of Appeals shall order that the attorney show cause, within 15 days of the date of the order, why the attorney should not be immediately transferred to disability inactive status.

A copy of the show cause order and petition shall be served on the attorney in accordance with Rule 19-723 and, in addition, upon any guardian of the attorney, any known agent of the attorney, and the director of any facility to which the attorney has been admitted.

(d) Order of the Court of Appeals. Upon consideration of the petition and any answer to the order to show cause, the Court of Appeals may enter an order: (1) immediately transferring the attorney to disability inactive status, pending further order of the Court; (2) designating a judge pursuant to Rule 19-722 to hold a hearing in accordance with Rule 19-727; or (3) containing any other appropriate provisions. The provisions of Rules 19-741 and 19-743, as applicable, apply to an order that transfers an attorney to disability inactive status. Copies of the order shall be served upon Bar Counsel and each person named in the proof of service of the petition.

(e) Effect of Denial. If the Court of Appeals denies a petition filed under section (c) of this Rule, Bar Counsel may file a Statement of Charges under Rule 19-718.

(f) Effect on Disciplinary or Remedial Proceeding. If a disciplinary or remedial proceeding for alleged misconduct is pending against the attorney, the entry of an order under this section shall stay the proceeding until the further order of the Court.

(g) Termination of Disability Inactive Status. On notification by Bar Counsel that the attorney is judicially determined to be competent, is judicially released after involuntary admission, or is no longer incapacitated as defined by Rule 19-701 (m), the Court of Appeals may enter an order: (1) terminating the disability inactive status and dismissing the petition, (2) designating a judge in accordance with Rule 19-722 to hold a hearing in accordance with Rule 19-727, or (3) containing any other appropriate provisions.

(h) Inability to Defend. Upon a credible allegation by the attorney or other evidence that the attorney, by reason of physical or mental disability or impairment, is unable to assist in a defense to a petition filed pursuant to section (c)(1) of this Rule, the Court of Appeals may (1) appoint counsel for the attorney if the attorney is not otherwise represented by counsel, (2) appoint a guardian ad litem for the attorney, (3) appoint both counsel for the attorney and a guardian ad litem, (4) enter an order designating a circuit court judge to hold a hearing to determine, by clear and convincing evidence, whether the attorney is unable to assist in a defense and, if the attorney is found to be unable to assist in a defense, appoint counsel for the attorney if the attorney is not otherwise represented by counsel, appoint a guardian ad litem, or both, or (5) enter any other appropriate order.

(i) Costs.

(1) Allocation of Costs. The Court of Appeals may order all or part of the costs, as defined in Rule 19-709, be allocated among the parties.

(2) Compensation for Appointed Counsel and Guardians ad Litem.

(A) Entitlement. An individual appointed pursuant to section (h) of this Rule is entitled to payment from the attorney's assets or the Disciplinary Fund for reasonable and necessary fees incurred in carrying out the order of appointment.

(B) Petition for Fees. Upon verified petition served on the attorney at the attorney's last known address, the Court may order payment to an individual appointed pursuant to section (h) of this Rule and enter judgment against the attorney.

(C) Order of the Court of Appeals. Upon consideration of the petition and any answer, the Court of Appeals may enter an order: (1) granting the verified petition for fees, in whole, or in part; (2) denying the verified petition; (3) designating a circuit court judge to hold a hearing on the reasonableness and necessity of fees and costs, and to make recommendations to the Court of Appeals, to which exceptions may be filed and considered by the Court in accordance with the procedures set forth in Rule 19-728; or (4) containing any other appropriate provisions. If the order includes an award of attorney's fees, the award may be deemed a money judgment, which may be recorded in any circuit court for purposes of enforcement.

(D) Payment from Disciplinary Fund. If an individual appointed pursuant to section (h) of this Rule is unable to obtain full payment within one year after entry of judgment, the Commission may authorize payment from the Disciplinary Fund in an amount not exceeding the amount of the judgment that remains unsatisfied. If payment is made from the Disciplinary Fund, the individual appointed pursuant to section (h) of this Rule shall assign the judgment to the Commission for the benefit of the Disciplinary Fund.

(j) Duties of Clerk of Court of Appeals. The applicable provisions of Rule 19-761 apply when an order is entered under this Rule.

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.

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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.
 

NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE ATTORNEY GRIEVANCE COMMISSION OF MARYLAND
OR THE BOARD ON PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY OF THE D.C. BAR