SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT APPROVES
AMENDMENTS TO S.J.C. RULE 4:01
AND RULES OF THE BOARD OF BAR OVERSEERS
Supreme Judicial Court has approved amendments to S.J.C.
Rule 4:01 and the Rules of the Board of Bar Overseers,
effective September 1, 2009. The amendments are available
on the Court's website at http://www.mass.gov/courts/sjc and
the Board of Bar Overseer's website at http://www.mass.gov/obcbbo
amendments stem from the American Bar Association Report
on the Lawyer Regulation System of Massachusetts issued
by the ABA Standing Committee on Professional Discipline.
As part of a system-wide effort to improve the administration
of justice, the Justices invited the ABA committee to
assess the bar discipline system in the Commonwealth.
The rule changes implement certain of the recommendations
contained in the committee report. The Justices also
acknowledge the helpful report of the Massachusetts Bar
Association Task Force on Lawyer Discipline.
of the significant changes are described in the Notice
soliciting comments on the proposed amendments, found
on the Board's website, http://www.mass.gov/obcbbo/comment.htm.
Subsequent to publication of the proposed amendments,
and following review of comments received, the rules
were revised to require bar counsel to inform a complainant
in writing of the reasons for not investigating a complaint
or for closing a file. An additional change subsequent
to publication requires the Board Chair or the Chair's
designee to consider the convenience of the complainant,
witnesses, the respondent and hearing committee in selecting
a hearing location.
addition, since the publication of the Notice soliciting
comments, the reinstatement questionnaire has been revised
and reformatted. The new questionnaire is separated into
two parts: Part I will become part of the record of the
reinstatement proceeding; Part II contains financial
and medical information and does not become part of the
record in the proceeding unless all or part of it is
admitted into evidence at the request of a party. The
changes to the questionnaire required revisions in Board
rules 3.62 and 3.63.
part of its assessment of the bar discipline system,
the Court earlier adopted a pilot program changing the
procedure for appealing to the full court from decisions
by a single justice in a bar discipline case. All bar
discipline cases entered in the Supreme Judicial Court
for Suffolk County after April 1, 2009 are subject to
the new procedure, which can also found on the Court's
website and on the Board's website, http://www.mass.gov/obcbbo/highlit.htm#pilot.