Statement of the Supreme Court of South Carolina Regarding the ABA
Consultation Team’s Reports on the South Carolina
Lawyer and Judicial Disciplinary Systems
At the request of the Supreme Court of South Carolina, a consultation team sponsored by the American Bar Association (ABA) Standing Committee on Professional Discipline conducted an in-depth review of the lawyer and judicial disciplinary systems in South Carolina. In addition to reviewing rules, annual reports and other documentation, this eminently qualified team conducted extensive on-site interviews with personnel within the Office of Disciplinary Counsel; the Office of the Attorney General; members of the Commission on Lawyer Conduct and Commission on Judicial Conduct; respondents and their counsel; complainants; and members of the legislature. Additionally, they met with the leadership of the South Carolina Bar and with the members of this Court.
The Court is delighted to announce that it has received and reviewed the reports prepared by the ABA consultation team, and it is extremely grateful for the recommendations made by the team. They reflect the highly professional and thoughtful approach which the team applied to its review of our lawyer and judicial disciplinary systems. Links to these reports appear below.
As the team recognized in its reports, this Court is fully committed to improving and modernizing our lawyer and judicial disciplinary systems. We can assure the bench, bar and public that we will fully consider the recommendations suggested by the team.
One of the recommendations made by the team is already being implemented. In the report on the lawyer disciplinary system, the team recommended additional formal training for the Office of Disciplinary Counsel. Further, in the report on the judicial disciplinary system, the team recommended that the members of the Commission on Judicial Conduct receive additional formal training.
Commission Counsel and Disciplinary Counsel have worked to implement a yearly training program for the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, the Commission on Lawyer Conduct and the Commission on Judicial Conduct. A full day of mandatory training has been scheduled for October. Additionally, it plans to develop a training video and comprehensive written materials for new Commission members. Further, renewed emphasis will be placed on involving the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, Commission Counsel and the Commission members in national professional responsibility organizations and programs.
While most of the changes recommended by the team do not involve significant changes to our disciplinary process or the protections afforded to the parties in disciplinary matters, several recommendations are significant and will require further study and consideration by this Court. To assist this Court in the review of these recommendations, the Court has decided to request written comments on these recommendations. A link to this request for written comments appears below.
The Court wishes to again express its sincere appreciation to the ABA Standing Committee on Professional Discipline for its willingness to assist the Court in conducting an independent review of our lawyer and judicial disciplinary systems. We are confident that its involvement will allow this Court to further improve and streamline our disciplinary rules while maintaining procedural protections for both respondents and complainants, and increasing public confidence in these systems.