Supreme Court Approves Revised Rules For Administering Attorney Discipline

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 changes 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 more notable changes to the rule include:

  • Reinstatement from all attorney suspensions, administrative and disciplinary, now requires an order of the Supreme Court. 
  • A separate reinstatement fee is now imposed for reinstatement from an administrative suspension.
  • The rule contains comprehensive provisions regarding the appointment of a receiver attorney for attorneys who become unable to practice law.
  • The new rule clarifies procedures for the selection of and duties of practice monitors assigned as a condition of public discipline.
  • Procedures have been clarified for assessment of costs of any disciplinary proceedings to an attorney who has been the subject of the discipline.
  • The new rule spells out more clearly provisions regarding confidentiality of documents related to disciplinary proceedings.
  • 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.

Also, Supreme Court Rule 9 references several other Supreme Court Rules, some of which will be amended to reflect the changes in Rule 9.

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 January 1, 2014.

Click here to read a copy of the Court’s Order and the new Rule 9 in its entirety. The updated rule also includes an appendix that cross references the old rule to the revised provisions in the new rule.