(a) Appointment. The Supreme Court shall appoint a member of the South Carolina Bar who has been admitted under Rule 402, SCACR, as the disciplinary counsel. The disciplinary counsel may be removed by a majority vote of the Supreme Court. The disciplinary counsel shall not otherwise engage in the practice of law, except to the extent a staff attorney would be authorized to do so under Rule 506, SCACR, or serve in a judicial capacity.
(b) Powers and Duties. Disciplinary counsel shall have the authority and duty to:
(1) receive and screen complaints, dismiss complaints, issue letters of caution, refer complaints to other agencies when appropriate, conduct investigations, notify complainants about the status and disposition of their complaints, make recommendations to an investigative panel on the disposition of complaints after investigation, file formal charges when directed to do so by an investigative panel, prosecute formal charges, and file briefs and other appropriate petitions with the Supreme Court;
(2) maintain permanent records of the operations of disciplinary counsel's office, including receipt of complaints, screening, investigation, and filing of formal charges in lawyer discipline and incapacity matters, subject to the requirements of Rule 20;
(3) compile statistics to aid in the administration of the system, including but not limited to a log of all complaints received, investigative files, and statistical summaries of docket processing and case dispositions;
(4) supervise such other attorneys, investigators and staff as the Supreme Court or the Attorney General may provide;
(5) employ private investigators or experts as necessary to investigate and process matters before the Commission and the Supreme Court;
(6) investigate and, if appropriate, commence and prosecute contempt proceedings in the Supreme Court based on allegations that a lawyer who is disbarred, suspended or transferred to incapacity inactive status has engaged in the practice of law;
(7) initiate and prosecute proceedings before the Commission and the Supreme Court to enforce orders related to disciplinary proceedings or related to the practice of law by lawyers and to seek restraining orders and sanctions in connection with violations thereof;
(8) dismiss a matter where a lawyer subject to a pending complaint dies prior to an agreement for discipline by consent or report of the hearing panel being submitted to the Supreme Court;
(9) serve as opposing counsel in proceedings before the Committee on Character and Fitness in which a lawyer seeks reinstatement or readmission; and
(10) perform other duties at the direction of the Commission or the Supreme Court.
(c) Appointment of Attorneys to Assist Disciplinary Counsel. The Supreme Court may appoint such additional regular members of the South Carolina Bar as it deems appropriate to assist the disciplinary counsel in performing disciplinary counsel's duties under this rule. Subject to such policies as the Office of Fiscal Services of the Judicial Branch may establish, these attorneys shall be reimbursed for reasonable and necessary expenses incurred pursuant to their duties.
Last amended by Order dated September 28, 2022.