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Supreme Court Adopts Rule Allowing Disbarment for Noncompliance with Temporary Suspension Orders

By Order dated July 27, 2022, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania adopted an amendment to Rule 208 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement, providing an expedited disbarment procedure for attorneys on temporary suspension who fail to comply with temporary suspension orders.

The amendment applies to attorneys on temporary suspension for two years or more without initiation of a formal proceeding. Upon filing of affidavits showing that the respondent-attorney has failed to comply in certain ways with the order placing him or her on that status, Disciplinary Counsel may petition the Supreme Court for issuance of a rule to show cause why the attorney should not be disbarred. Circumstances that warrant such action include:

  • Failure to comply with conditions imposed by the order or with Rule Pa.R.D.E. 217;
  • Continuing failure to provide records, where the temporary suspension was based in part on that failure;
  • Post-suspension conduct, by act or omission, that materially delays or obstructs Disciplinary Counsel’s ability to investigate allegations of misconduct;
  • The respondent-attorney’s whereabouts are unknown, and despite reasonably diligent efforts, Disciplinary Counsel has not been able to contact or locate the respondent-attorney for information or to serve notices;
  • A conservatorship of the affairs of the respondent-attorney has been appointed; or
  • The respondent-attorney has not participated in proceedings before the Pennsylvania Lawyers Fund for Client Security in which an adjudicated claim has resulted in an award.

Upon filing of a petition under the rule, the Court may issue a rule to show cause to which the respondent-attorney must respond within 14 days. After consideration of the response, or after the 14-day response period has expired, the Court may take such action as it deems appropriate, including entering an order disbarring the respondent-attorney.

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