The Supreme Court of South Carolina
RE: Supplemental Guidance Regarding Lawyer and Judicial Disciplinary Matters During the Coronavirus Emergency
On March 20, 2020, the Supreme Court of South Carolina issued an order regarding the continued operation of the Supreme Court of South Carolina and the South Carolina Court of Appeals during the coronavirus emergency. The Office of Disciplinary Counsel and the Office of Commission Counsel now request approval of the enclosed guidance to supplement the order of March 20, 2020, as it relates to Lawyer and Judicial Disciplinary Matters. The request is granted, and this guidance shall remain in effect until modified or rescinded by order of the Chief Justice.
s/Donald W. Beatty
Donald W. Beatty
Chief Justice of South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina
March 26, 2020
Supplemental Guidance Regarding Lawyer and Judicial Disciplinary Matters
During the Coronavirus Emergency
(a) Extensions of Time and Forgiveness of Procedural Defaults. Pursuant to part (l) of the Supreme Court Order titled "Operation of the Appellate Courts During the Coronavirus Emergency," effective March 20, 2020, all deadlines are suspended or altered as set forth below.
(1) Pursuant to Rule 14(b), RLDE, Rule 413, SCACR (for a complaint concerning a lawyer), or Rule 14(b), RJDE, Rule 502, SCACR (for a complaint concerning a judge), all deadlines falling prior to May 1, 2020, are extended to May 1, 2020, or for an additional twenty (20) days, whichever date is later. By example, a deadline of March 23, 2020 is extended to May 1, 2020, while a deadline of April 30, 2020, is extended to May 20, 2020. No further communication from the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) or the Office of Commission Counsel (OCC) is required to effectuate this extension. Any person seeking additional time to perform any act under the RLDE or the RJDE may make a request for such pursuant to Rule 14(b), RLDE or Rule 14(b), RJDE.
(2) Any procedural default occurring on or after March 13, 2020, is forgiven pursuant to part (l)(2) of the Order. No reminder letters pursuant to In the Matter of Treacy1 or other action will be taken except under part (a)(1), above.
(3) Any requests by a complainant for review pursuant to Rule 18(b), RLDE or Rule 18(b), RJDE, of a dismissal of the complaint are extended pursuant to part (a)(1), above.
(4) The following deadlines are not affected by the Order or this guidance:
(A) Rule 16, RLDE (Lawyers Charged with or Convicted of a Crime). Those lawyers charged with or convicted of a crime must self-report to ODC within 15 days of the charge or conviction. See also Rule 8.3(a), RPC, Rule 407, SCACR. This notice may be given by U.S. Mail, email or facsimile.
(B) Rule 29, RLDE (Reciprocal Discipline and Reciprocal Incapacity Inactive Status). Those lawyers who are disciplined or transferred to incapacity inactive status in another jurisdiction shall inform ODC within 15 days of the action. See also Rule 8.3(b), RPC, Rule 407, SCACR. This notice may be given by U.S. Mail, email or facsimile.
(C) Rule 16, RJDE (Judges Charged with or Convicted of a Crime). A judge who is charged with a crime or convicted of a crime must self-report to ODC within 15 days of the charge or conviction. See also Canon 3(D)(4), CJC, Rule 501, SCACR. This notice may be given by U.S. Mail, email or facsimile.
(b) Filing of Documents. The procedures set forth in part (c) of the Order shall apply to filings with ODC or OCC. The fax number for ODC is (803) 734-1964. The fax number for OCC is (803) 734-0363.
(c) Delivery of Documents. Delivery of documents to ODC or OCC is discouraged during the period under which the Order is effective. Any document to be delivered must be delivered at the basement main Senate Street entrance of the Calhoun Building. All documents are subject to quarantine pursuant to part (h) of the Order.
(d) Outgoing Correspondence. ODC and OCC have greatly reduced the number of employees working in the Calhoun Building and will not have sufficient staffing to continue to send all outgoing correspondence by U.S. Mail. In accordance with part (i) of the Order, ODC and OCC will continue to send paper correspondence to persons who are not lawyers or judges. Correspondence to a lawyer as defined by Rule 2(r), RLDE, will only be sent to that lawyer's primary e-mail address in AIS. Correspondence to a judge as defined by Rule 2(r), RJDE, will only be sent to the e-mail address provided to South Carolina Court Administration.
(e) Public Access. Public access to ODC or OCC shall be in accordance with part (j)(2) of the Order and any supplemental orders issued regarding the Calhoun Building as approved by the Chief Justice.
1 Matter of Treacy, 277 S.C. 514, 290 S.E.2d 240 (1982) (letter reminding lawyer that failure to respond to ODC is the equivalent of a refusal to respond to the Supreme Court).