Rule14-708. Character and fitness.
(a) Standard of character and fitness.An attorney's conduct should conform to the requirements of the law, both inprofessional service to clients and in the attorney's business and personalaffairs. An attorney should be one whose record of conduct justifies the trustof clients, adversaries, courts, and others with respect to the professionalduties owed to them. An Applicant whose record manifests a significantdeficiency in honesty, trustworthiness, diligence, or reliability shall bedenied admission. The Applicant has the burden of proof to establish by clearand convincing evidence her or his fitness to practice law. Applicants must beapproved by the Character and Fitness Committee prior to sitting for the Bar Examination.At any time before being admitted to the Bar, the Character and FitnessCommittee may withdraw or modify its approval.
(b) Investigative process;investigative interview. Investigations into the character and fitness ofApplicants may be informal, but shall be thorough, with the object ofascertaining the truth.
(b)(1) The Character and FitnessCommittee may conduct an investigation and may act with or without requiring apersonal appearance by an Applicant.
(b)(2) At the discretion of the Characterand Fitness Committee, an Applicant may be required to attend an investigativeinterview conducted by one or more members of the Committee. The investigativeinterview shall be informal but the Applicant shall have the right to counseland shall be notified in writing of the general factual areas of inquiry.Documentary evidence may be provided as part of the investigation, but nowitnesses will be permitted to appear during the interview. The interview shallbe a closed proceeding.
(b)(3) After an investigative interviewhas been conducted, the Applicant shall be notified regarding whether or not heror his application has been approved. Applicants who are not approved will benotified regarding those areas that are of concern to the Committee. An Applicantseeking review of the decision must request a formal hearing within tencalendar days of notice of the Committee's decision. The request must be madein writing and provided to the Deputy General Counsel. The hearing will beconducted in accordance with Rule 14-708(c).
(b)(4) Corrective action. The Committeemay determine that an Applicant must take corrective action before approval ofher or his application can be granted. The Applicant shall be notified inwriting of the action required. The Applicant must provide writtendocumentation to the Deputy General Counsel proving that the requiredcorrective action has been completed by the deadline specified by the Characterand Fitness Committee.
(b)(4)(A) If the documentation is notprovided as required by the date specified by the Character and FitnessCommittee, the Applicant must, instead, submit to the Deputy General Counsel, awritten request to transfer, including the payment of the prescribed transferfee.
(b)(4)(A)(i) An Applicant who must sitfor the Bar Examination must specify which of the next two scheduled BarExaminations the Applicant intends to take.
(b)(4)(A)(ii) An Applicant who is notrequired to sit for the Bar Examination does not need to transfer unless her orhis application is due to be closed under Rule 14-707(g). If an Applicanttransfers to prevent closure of her or his application under Rule 14-707(g),closure will be postponed for one year.
(b)(4)(A)(iii) An Applicant is entitledto one transfer only.
(b)(4)(A)(iv) The application of anApplicant who neither takes corrective action nor requests a transfer shall beconsidered withdrawn.
(c) Formal hearing. In matters wherethe Character and Fitness Committee decides to convene or an Applicant sorequests, the Character and Fitness Committee shall hold a formal hearing. Theformal hearing shall be a closed proceeding and may be scheduled whether or notpreceded by an investigative interview.
(c)(1) A formal hearing shall beattended by no fewer than three Character and Fitness Committee members. Fivecalendar days before the hearing, the Applicant and the Committee must providea list of witnesses and a copy of any exhibits to be offered into evidence. Ifan Applicant chooses to submit a written statement, it must also be filed fivecalendar days before the hearing.
(c)(2) Written notice of the formalhearing shall be given at least ten calendar days before the hearing. Noticeshall be sent to the Applicant at the address in the application. The noticeshall include a statement of the preliminary factual matters of concern. Thematters inquired into at the hearing are not limited to those identified in thenotice, but may include any concerns relevant to making a determinationregarding the Applicant's character and fitness.
(c)(3) The formal hearing will have acomplete stenographic record made by a certified court reporter or anelectronic record made by means acceptable in the courts of Utah. All testimonyshall be taken under oath. Although no formal rules of evidence or civilprocedure will apply, an Applicant has the right to counsel, the right tocross-examine witnesses, the right to examine the evidence and the right topresent witnesses and documentary evidence. An Applicant is entitled to makereasonable use of the Bar's subpoena powers to compel attendance of witnessesand to adduce relevant evidence relating to matters adverse to the applicant.
(c)(4) Written findings of fact andconclusions of law shall be issued no later than 45 calendar days after theformal hearing and any subsequent inquiries have been concluded. In computingthe period of time, the last day of the period shall be included, unless it isa Saturday, a Sunday, or a legal holiday, in which event the period extendsuntil the end of the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or a legalholiday. ?Legal holiday? includes days designated as holidays by the state orfederal governments.
(d) Factors related to character andfitness. In addition to the standards set forth in Rules 14-708(a), and 14-708(f)and Rule 14-717 if applicable, the Character and Fitness Committee may use thefollowing factors to decide whether an Applicant possesses the requisitecharacter and fitness to practice law:
(d)(1) theApplicant's lack of candor;
(d)(4) makingof false or misleading statements, including omissions;
(d)(5) misconductin employment;
(d)(6) actsinvolving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;
(d)(7) abuseof legal process;
(d)(8) neglect of financialresponsibilities;
(d)(9) neglect of professionalobligations;
(d)(10) violationof a court order;
(d)(11) evidenceof mental or emotional instability;
(d)(12) evidenceof drug or alcohol dependency;
(d)(13) lack of diligence orreliability;
(d)(14) lack of civility;
(d)(15) denialof admission to the bar in another jurisdiction on character and fitnessgrounds;
(d)(16) past or pending disciplinaryaction by a lawyer disciplinary agency or other professional disciplinaryagency of any jurisdiction; and
(d)(17) other conduct bearing uponcharacter or fitness to practice law.
(e) Assigning weight and significanceto prior conduct. In making a determination as to the requisite character andfitness, the following factors should be considered in assigning weight andsignificance to prior conduct:
(e)(1) age atthe time of conduct;
(e)(2) recencyof the conduct;
(e)(3) reliabilityof the information concerning the conduct;
(e)(4) seriousnessof the conduct;
(e)(5) factorsunderlying the conduct;
(e)(6) cumulativeeffect of conduct or information;
(e)(7) evidenceof rehabilitation;
(e)(8) positivesocial contributions since the conduct;
(e)(9) candorin the admissions process;
(e)(10) materiality of any omission ormisrepresentations; and
(e)(11) acceptance of responsibilityfor past conduct.
(f) Civil, criminal, or disciplinarycharges.
(f)(1) Where bar complaints, civilcases, or criminal charges are pending, an Applicant's character and fitnessreview may be held in abeyance until the matter has been resolved by theauthority in question.
(f)(2) An Applicant convicted of amisdemeanor offense or who has entered a plea in abeyance to any criminaloffense may be asked to appear before members of the Character and FitnessCommittee for an investigation interview or a formal hearing. In determiningwhether the Applicant is of good character, the Committee will consider thenature and seriousness of the criminal conduct resulting in the conviction(s),mitigating and aggravating factors including completion of terms and conditionsof any sentence imposed, payment of restitution if applicable, anddemonstration of clearly proven rehabilitation.
(f)(3) A rebuttable presumption existsagainst admission of an Applicant convicted of a felony offense. For purposes ofthis rule, a conviction includes entry of a nolo contendre(no contest) plea. An Applicant who has been convicted of a felony offense isnot eligible to apply for admission until after the date of completion of anysentence, term of probation or term of parole or supervised release, whicheveroccurred last. Upon an Applicant's eligibility, a formal hearing may be held asset forth in Rule 14-708(c). Factors to be considered by the Committee include,but are not limited to, the nature and seriousness of the criminal conductresulting in the conviction(s), mitigating and aggravating factors includingcompletion of terms and conditions of a sentence imposed and demonstration ofclearly proven rehabilitation.
(g) Review. An Applicant may request areview of a formal hearing decision. The review will be conducted in accordancewith Rule 14-715.
(h) Reapplication. Reapplication afterdenial in a character and fitness determination may not be made prior to oneyear from the date of the final decision (including the appellate decision, ifapplicable), unless a different time period is specified in the final decision.If just cause exists, the Character and Fitness Committee may require anApplicant to wait up to three years from the date of the final decision to reapply.If a reapplication period longer than one year is set for a Disbarred Attorney,then the time period is subject to approval by the district court hearing thepetition for reinstatement. See Rule 14-525.
Effective September1, 2020.