Supreme Court Approves Revised Rules For Attorney Discipline

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Tennessee Supreme Court has adopted substantial changes to the rule that governs the discipline of attorneys in this state.

Supreme Court Rule 9 is one of nearly 60 rules that the Court enforces regarding everything from how court records are kept to rules of professional conduct. The revisions to Rule 9 come about after more than two years of work that included input from attorneys and professional organizations from throughout the state.

The changes are so substantial that the Court is adopting a new 56-page rule in its entirety, rather than amending portions of the previous rule, which is the customary practice.

Some of the most extensive changes to the rule concern procedures for reinstatement of a law license after an attorney is suspended from practice. Reinstatement from all attorney suspensions, regardless of the type, now requires an order of the Supreme Court, and administrative suspensions also require payment of a reinstatement fee.

The new rule also spells out more clearly provisions regarding confidentiality of documents related to disciplinary proceedings. In addition, the selection process for board members and recusal standards for both disciplinary hearing panel members and board members have been clarified in the new rule.

What the new rule does not change is grounds for attorney discipline and the forms of discipline that attorneys are subject to, such as private reprimand, public censure, suspension, and disbarment.

The rule regarding administration of discipline to attorneys was last revised in 2006. The new Supreme Court Rule 9 goes into effect Jan. 1, 2014.

More details regarding the changes to the rule can be found on the Supreme Court’s website. Click here to read a copy of the Court’s Order and the new rule in its entirety.

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