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RULE 19-711. COMPLAINT; INVESTIGATION BY BAR COUNSEL

West's Annotated Code of MarylandMaryland Rules

West's Annotated Code of Maryland
Maryland Rules
Title 19. Attorneys
Chapter 700. Discipline, Inactive Status, Resignation
Administrative Proceedings
MD Rules Attorneys, Rule 19-711
RULE 19-711. COMPLAINT; INVESTIGATION BY BAR COUNSEL
(a) Who May Initiate. Bar Counsel may file a complaint on Bar Counsel's own initiative, based on information from any source. Any other individual also may file a complaint with Bar Counsel. Any communication to Bar Counsel that (1) is in writing, (2) alleges that an attorney has engaged in professional misconduct or has an incapacity, (3) includes the name and address of the individual making the communication, and (4) states facts which, if true, would constitute professional misconduct by or demonstrate an incapacity of an attorney constitutes a complaint.
(b) Review of Complaint.
(1) Bar Counsel shall make an inquiry concerning every complaint that is not facially frivolous, unfounded, or duplicative.
(2) If Bar Counsel concludes that a complaint is without merit, does not allege facts which, if true, would demonstrate either professional misconduct or incapacity, or is duplicative, Bar Counsel shall decline the complaint and notify the complainant. Bar Counsel also may decline a complaint submitted by an individual who provides information about an attorney derived from published news reports or third party sources where the complainant appears to have no personal knowledge of the information being submitted.
(3) Unless a complaint is declined for one of the reasons set forth in subsection (b)(2) of this Rule, Bar Counsel ordinarily shall obtain a written response from the attorney who is the subject of a complaint and consider other appropriate information to assist in evaluating the merits of the complaint. If Bar Counsel determines based upon such evaluation that an insufficient basis exists to demonstrate misconduct or incapacity or that the overall circumstances do not warrant investigation, Bar Counsel may close the file without approval of the Commission. Otherwise, subject to subsection (b)(4) of this Rule, Bar Counsel shall (A) docket the complaint, (B) notify the complainant and explain in writing the procedures for investigating and processing the complaint, (C) comply with the notice requirement of section (c) of this Rule, and (D) conduct an investigation to determine whether reasonable grounds exist to support the allegations of the complaint.
Committee note: In this Rule, “docket” refers to the process of listing a complaint on the docket of active investigations maintained by Bar Counsel, rather than on a docket maintained by the clerk of a court. Before determining whether a complaint is frivolous or unfounded, Bar Counsel may contact the attorney and obtain an informal response to the allegations.
(4) If Bar Counsel concludes that a civil or criminal action involving material allegations against the attorney substantially similar or related to those alleged in the complaint is pending in any court of record in the United States, or that substantially similar or related allegations presently are under investigation by a law enforcement, regulatory, or disciplinary agency, Bar Counsel, with the approval of the Commission, may defer action on the complaint pending a determination of those allegations in the pending action or investigation. Bar Counsel shall notify the complainant of that decision and, during the period of the deferral, shall report to the Commission, at least every six months, the status of the other action or investigation. The Commission, at any time, may direct Bar Counsel to proceed in accordance with subsection (b)(3) of this Rule.
(c) Notice to Attorney.
(1) Except as otherwise provided in this section, Bar Counsel shall notify the attorney who is the subject of the complaint that Bar Counsel is undertaking an investigation to determine whether the attorney has engaged in professional misconduct or is incapacitated. The notice shall be given before the conclusion of the investigation and shall include the name and address of the complainant and the general nature of the professional misconduct or incapacity under investigation. As part of the notice, Bar Counsel may demand that the attorney provide information and records that Bar Counsel deems appropriate and relevant to the investigation. The notice shall state the time within which the attorney shall provide the information and any other information that the attorney may wish to present. The notice shall be served on the attorney in accordance with Rule 19-708 (b).
(2) Bar Counsel need not give notice of investigation to an attorney if, with the approval of the Commission, Bar Counsel proceeds under Rule 19-737, 19-738, or 19-739.
(d) Time for Completing Investigation.
(1) Generally. Subject to subsection (b)(4) of this Rule or unless the time is extended pursuant to subsection (d)(2) of this Rule, Bar Counsel shall complete an investigation within 90 days after docketing the complaint.
(2) Extension.
(A) Upon written request by Bar Counsel and a finding of good cause by the Commission, the Commission may grant an extension for a specified period. Upon a separate request by Bar Counsel and a finding of good cause, the Commission may renew an extension for a specified period.
(B) The Commission may not grant or renew an extension, at any one time, of more than 60 days unless it finds specific good cause for a longer extension.
(C) If an extension exceeding 60 days is granted, Bar Counsel shall provide the Commission with a status report at least every 60 days.
(3) Sanction. For failure to comply with the time requirements of section (d) of this Rule, the Commission may take any action appropriate under the circumstances, including dismissal of the complaint and termination of the investigation.
Source: This Rule is derived from former Rule 16-731 (2016).

Credits

[Adopted June 6, 2016, eff. July 1, 2016. Amended June 20, 2017, eff. Aug. 1, 2017.]

Editors' Notes

HISTORICAL NOTES
2017 Orders
The June 20, 2017 order, changed the words “appropriate investigation” to the words “inquiry concerning” in subsection(b)(1); permitted Bar Counsel to decline a complaint is duplicative; permitted Bar Counsel to decline a complaint instead of dismissing one; permitted Bar Counsel to decline a complaint submitted by an individual who provides information about an attorney derived from certain sources where the complainant appears to have no personal knowledge of the information being submitted; provided that unless a complaint is declined, Bar Counsel ordinarily shall obtain a written response from the attorney who is the subject of the complaint and consider other appropriate information to assist in evaluating the complaint; giving Bar Counsel the discretion to close a file without the approval of the Attorney Grievance Commission if Bar Counsel determines that an insufficient bases exists to demonstrate misconduct or incapacity or that the overall circumstances do not warrant further investigation; in subsection (b)(3), changed the words “open a file on” to the word “docket”; changed the words “acknowledge receipt of the complaint” to “notify the complainant” , changed the word “believe” to the word “support; added a sentence to the Committee note following subsection (b)(3); permitted Bar Counsel with the approval of the Commission to defer action on a complaint when an investigation of substantially similar or related facts by certain authorities is under way or when there are related allegations in a pending civil or criminal action; and made stylistic changes.
MD R Attorneys, Rule 19-711, MD R ATTORNEYS Rule 19-711
Current with amendments received through September 1, 2017
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