April 22, 2022 Meeting
The Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure met on Friday, April 22, 2022. The first item was approval of revisions to Rule 19-726 made by the Attorney and Judges Subcommittee at their April 12, 2022 meeting. The Court of Appeals advised the Rules Committee of concerns it had about the prior changes to this Rule at the March 30, 2022 Open Meeting. In response the Subcommittee prepared a draft for consideration by the Rules Committee as the Court of Appeals that it sought revisions to this Rule to go into effect promptly. This Rule specifically deals with discovery in attorney grievance cases and the new revisions add back into the Rule the general discovery rules found in Title 2 Chapter 400 of the Rules into attorney grievance cases.
In particular, section (F) of this Rule deals with the deposition of the Attorney Grievance Commission, Bar Counsel, and staff. The Rule revision from the Subcommittee clearly stated that the Attorney Grievance Commission is not subject to an organization designee deposition in attorney disciplinary matters, but the Committee note following that Section stated that the Rule did not preclude the deposition of other persons including members of the Office of Bar Counsel or the Commission. The previous version of this section of the Rule was one of the two big matters for which the Court of Appeals sought clarification from the Rules Committee. The full Rules Committee spent a significant amount of time deliberating whether the Committee note created a right to depose opposing counsel in an attorney grievance matter. A motion was made to remove the Committee note and to craft language that a request to depose opposing counsel was subject to existing law and that the individual making such a request would have to meet their burden before the deposition of opposing attorney and it was approved by the Committee. Motions to strike this provision entirely did not receive a second.
The second item was a request to the full Rules Committee to provide instruction to the Attorney and Judges Subcommittee regarding the statement in the Court of Appeals decision in AGC v. Jackson, 477 Md. 174 (2022) in which the Court requested that the Rules Committee review Rule of Professional Responsibility 19-305.5 (5.50) regarding the unauthorized practice of law. The Rules Committee approved the motion to refer the matter to the Subcommittee with instruction to determine (1) whether this Rule should be amended and whether the language should parallel the language in the rules of Arizona, Minnesota, or New Hampshire and (2) whether an additional exception is needed to address attorneys practicing the law of another jurisdiction in which they are appropriately licensed while physically present in Maryland and if so, whether the rules of Arizona, Minnesota, New Hampshire, or Ohio should be a guide for the revised rule. MSBA welcomes feedback from members on this issue at firstname.lastname@example.org, as this is an important issue that affects all practice areas.
Agendas, minutes, and reports from the meetings are posted on the court website.
210th Report and Other Resources
The 210th Report of the Rules Committee has been submitted and is posted here: http://www.mdcourts.gov/sites/default/files/rules/reports/210threport.pdf
The Court of Appeals directed that there be a seven (7) day comment period for this Report, so please note that the comment period ends on May 5, 2022.