(a)Standard of character and fitness. An attorney's conduct should conform to therequirements of the law, both in professional service to clients and in theattorney's business and personal affairs. An attorney should be one whoserecord of conduct justifies the trust of clients, adversaries, courts, andothers with respect to the professional duties owed to them. An Applicant whoserecord manifests a significant deficiency in honesty, trustworthiness,diligence, or reliability shall be denied admission. The Applicant has theburden of proof to establish by clear and convincing evidence her or hisfitness to practice law. Applicants must be approved by the Character andFitness Committee prior to sitting for the Bar Examination. At any time beforebeing admitted to the Bar, the Character and Fitness Committee may withdraw ormodify its approval.
(b)Investigative process; investigative interview. Investigations into thecharacter and fitness of Applicants may be informal, but shall be thorough,with the object of ascertaining the truth.
(b)(1)The Character and Fitness Committee may conduct an investigation and may actwith or without requiring a personal appearance by an Applicant.
(b)(2)At the discretion of the Character and Fitness Committee, an Applicant may berequired to attend an investigative interview conducted by one or more membersof the Committee. The investigative interview shall be informal but theApplicant shall have the right to counsel and shall be notified in writing ofthe general factual areas of inquiry. Documentary evidence may be provided aspart of the investigation, but no witnesses will be permitted to appear duringthe interview. The interview shall be a closed proceeding.
(b)(3)After an investigative interview has been conducted, the Applicant shall benotified regarding whether or not she or he has been approved to sit for theBar Examination. Applicants who are not approved will be notified regardingthose areas that are of concern to the Committee. AnApplicant seeking review of the decision must request a formal hearing withinten calendar days of notice of the Committee's decision. The request must bemade in writing and provided to the Deputy General Counsel. The hearing will beconducted in accordance with Rule 14-708(c).
(b)(4)The Committee may determine that an Applicant must take corrective actionbefore approval of her or his application can be granted. The Applicant shallbe notified in writing of the action required. No later than 30 days prior tothe date of the Bar Examination, the Applicant must provide writtendocumentation to the Deputy General Counsel proving that the requiredcorrective action has been completed.
(b)(4)(A)If the documentation is not provided as required within 30 days prior to theBar Examination, the Applicant must, instead, submit to the Deputy GeneralCounsel, a written request to transfer, including the payment of the prescribedtransfer fee. The request must specify when the corrective action will be completedand which future examination the Applicant plans to take.
(b)(4)(B)The exam must be taken within the next two scheduled Bar Examinations. AnApplicant is entitled to one transfer only.
(b)(4)(C)The application of an Applicant who neither takes corrective action norrequests a transfer shall be considered withdrawn.
(c)Formal hearing. In matters where the Character and Fitness Committee decides toconvene or an Applicant so requests, the Character and Fitness Committee shallhold a formal hearing. The formal hearing shall be a closed proceeding and maybe scheduled whether or not preceded by an investigative interview.
(c)(1)A formal hearing shall be attended by no fewer than three Character and FitnessCommittee members. Five calendar days before the hearing, the Applicant and theCommittee must provide a list of witnesses and a copy of any exhibits to beoffered into evidence. If an Applicant chooses to submit a written statement,it must also be filed five calendar days before the hearing.
(c)(2)Written notice of the formal hearing shall be given at least ten calendar daysbefore the hearing. Notice shall be sent to the Applicant at the address in theapplication. The notice shall include a statement of the preliminary factualmatters of concern. The matters inquired into at the hearing are not limited tothose identified in the notice, but may include any concerns relevant to makinga determination regarding the Applicant's character and fitness.
(c)(3)The formal hearing will have a complete stenographic record made by a certifiedcourt reporter or an electronic record made by means acceptable in the courtsof
(c)(4)Written findings of fact and conclusions of law shall be issued no later than45 calendar days after the formal hearing and any subsequent inquiries havebeen concluded. In computing the period of time, the last day of the periodshall be included, unless it is a Saturday, a Sunday, or a legal holiday, inwhich event the period extends until the end of the next day that is not aSaturday, Sunday, or a legal holiday. ?Legal holiday? includes days designatedas holidays by the state or federal governments.
(d)Factors related to character and fitness. In addition to the standards setforth in Rules 14-708(a), and 14-708(f) and Rule 14-717 if applicable, theCharacter and Fitness Committee may use the following factors to decide whetheran Applicant possesses the requisite character and fitness to practice law:
(d)(1)the Applicant's lack of candor;
(d)(4)making of false or misleading statements, includingomissions;
(d)(5)misconduct in employment;
(d)(6)acts involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit ormisrepresentation;
(d)(7)abuse of legal process;
(d)(8)neglect of financial responsibilities;
(d)(9)neglect of professional obligations;
(d)(10)violation of a court order;
(d)(11)evidence of mental or emotional instability;
(d)(12)evidence of drug or alcohol dependency;
(d)(13)lack of diligence or reliability;
(d)(14)lack of civility;
(d)(15)denial of admission to the bar in another jurisdictionon character and fitness grounds;
(d)(16)past or pending disciplinary action by a lawyerdisciplinary agency or other professional disciplinary agency of anyjurisdiction; and
(d)(17)other conduct bearing upon character or fitness topractice law.
(e)Assigning weight and significance to prior conduct. In making a determinationas to the requisite character and fitness, the following factors should beconsidered in assigning weight and significance to prior conduct:
(e)(1)age at the time of conduct;
(e)(2)recency of the conduct;
(e)(3)reliability of the information concerning the conduct;
(e)(4)seriousness of the conduct;
(e)(5)factors underlying the conduct;
(e)(6)cumulative effect of conduct or information;
(e)(7)evidence of rehabilitation;
(e)(8)positive social contributions since the conduct;
(e)(9)candor in the admissions process;
(e)(10)materiality of any omission or misrepresentations; and
(e)(11)acceptance of responsibility for past conduct.
(f)Civil, criminal, or disciplinary charges.
(f)(1)Where bar complaints, civil cases, or criminal charges are pending, anApplicant's character and fitness review may be held in abeyance until thematter has been resolved by the authority in question.
(f)(2)An Applicant convicted of a misdemeanor offense or who has entered a plea inabeyance to any criminal offense may be asked to appear before members of theCharacter and Fitness Committee for an investigation interview or a formalhearing. In determining whether the Applicant is of good character, theCommittee will consider the nature and seriousness of the criminal conductresulting in the conviction(s), mitigating and aggravating factors includingcompletion of terms and conditions of any sentence imposed, payment of restitutionif applicable, and demonstration of clearly proven rehabilitation.
(f)(3)A rebuttable presumption exists against admission of an Applicant convicted ofa felony offense. For purposes of this rule, a conviction includes entry of a
(g)Review. An Applicant may request a review of a formal hearing decision. Thereview will be conducted in accordance with Rule 14-715.
(h)Reapplication. Reapplication after denial in a character and fitnessdetermination may not be made prior to one year from the date of the finaldecision (including the appellate decision, if applicable), unless a differenttime period is specified in the final decision. If just cause exists, theCharacter and Fitness Committee may require an Applicant to wait up to threeyears from the date of the final decision to reapply. If a reapplication periodlonger than one year is set for a Disbarred Attorney, then the time period issubject to approval by the district court hearing the petition forreinstatement. See Rule 14-525.
Effective Date May 1, 2016