The Supreme Court of South Carolina
RE: Amended Supplemental Guidance Regarding Lawyer and Judicial Disciplinary Matters During the Coronavirus Emergency
The Office of Disciplinary Counsel and the Office of Commission Counsel request approval of the enclosed amended guidance for Lawyer and Judicial Disciplinary Matters as it relates to the March 20, 2020, order of the Supreme Court regarding the continued operation of the Supreme Court of South Carolina and the South Carolina Court of Appeals during the coronavirus emergency. The request is granted, and this amended guidance shall remain in effect until modified or rescinded by order of the Chief Justice.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
April 10, 2020
Amended 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," (the Order) 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 request by a complainant for review pursuant to Rule 18(b), RLDE or Rule 18(b), RJDE, of a dismissal of the complaint is temporarily extended for a period of ninety (90) days following a notice of dismissal.
(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 fifteen (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 fifteen (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 fifteen (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 and Delivery of Documents. Based on current restrictions on public access to the Calhoun Building, documents may no longer be delivered to ODC or OCC. Documents may be filed utilizing the U.S. Mail, fax or email. The fax number for ODC is (803) 734-1964. The fax number for OCC is (803) 734-0363. The general email address for ODC is ODCmail@sccourts.org. The general email address for OCC is OCCmail@sccourts.org. A lawyer may sign documents utilizing an electronic form of the lawyer's signature in accordance with part (f) of the Order.
(c) 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 as long as is feasible; such persons are encouraged to provide email addresses or fax numbers to facilitate electronic communication. 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.
(d) Certification in Lieu of Affidavit. Where an affidavit is required to be filed or submitted, the requirement of an affidavit may be satisfied by a signed certification of the maker stating, "I certify that the foregoing statements made by me are true. I am aware that if any of the foregoing statements made by me are willfully false, I am subject to punishment by contempt."
(e) Public Access. Public access to ODC or OCC shall be in accordance with part (j)(2) of the Order and any supplemental orders or notices 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).