RULE 3-7.9 CONSENT JUDGMENT
3 RULES OF DISCIPLINE
RULE 3-7.9 CONSENT JUDGMENT
(a) Before Formal Complaint is Filed. If before a formal complaint is filed a respondent states a desire to plead guilty, bar counsel shall consult established board guidelines for discipline and confer with the designated reviewer. If bar counsel or the designated reviewer rejects the proposed consent judgment, the matter shall not be referred to the board of governors. If bar counsel and the designated reviewer approve the proposed consent judgment, the respondent shall be advised that bar counsel and the designated reviewer will recommend approval of the respondent’s written plea, and the matter shall be placed on the agenda of the board of governors for its review. If the board of governors concurs in the consent judgment, bar counsel shall notify the respondent and file all necessary pleadings to secure approval of the plea. If a proposed consent judgment is rejected, bar counsel shall prepare and file a complaint as provided elsewhere in these rules.
(b) After Filing of Formal Complaint. If a respondent states a desire to plead guilty to a formal complaint that has been filed, staff counsel shall consult established board guidelines for discipline and confer with the designated reviewer. If staff counsel or the designated reviewer rejects the proposed consent judgment, the plea shall not be filed with the referee. If staff counsel and the designated reviewer approve the proposed consent judgment, the respondent shall be advised that staff counsel and the designated reviewer will recommend approval of the respondent’s written plea and the consent judgment shall be filed with the referee. If the referee accepts the consent judgment, the referee shall enter a report and file same with the court as provided elsewhere in these rules. If the referee rejects the consent judgment, the matter shall proceed as provided in this chapter.
(c) Approval of Consent Judgments. Acceptance of any proposed consent judgment shall be conditioned on final approval by the Supreme Court of Florida, and the court’s order will recite the disciplinary charges against the respondent.
(d) Content of Conditional Pleas. All conditional pleas shall show clearly by reference or otherwise the disciplinary offenses to which the plea is made. All conditional pleas in which the respondent agrees to the imposition of a suspension or disbarment shall include an acknowledgment that, unless waived or modified by the court on motion of the respondent, the court order accepting the conditional plea will contain a provision that prohibits the respondent from accepting new business from the date of the order or opinion and shall provide that the suspension or disbarment is effective 30 days from the date of the order or opinion so that the respondent may close out the practice of law and protect the interests of existing clients. A conditional plea may not permit a respondent to begin serving a suspension or disbarment until the Supreme Court of Florida issues an order or opinion approving the recommended discipline.
(e) Disbarment on Consent. A respondent may surrender membership in The Florida Bar in lieu of defending against allegations of disciplinary violations by agreeing to disbarment on consent. Disbarment on consent shall have the same effect as, and shall be governed by, the same rules provided for disbarment elsewhere in these Rules Regulating The Florida Bar.
Matters involving disbarment on consent shall be processed in the same manner as set forth in subdivisions (a) through (d) of this rule and elsewhere in these Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, except that a respondent may enter into a disbarment on consent without admitting any of the facts or rule violations alleged by the bar. In such event, the disbarment on consent shall set forth a brief recitation of the allegations underlying the disbarment on consent. This option shall only be available for disbarments on consent and not for any other type of consent judgment.
(f) Effect of Pleas on Certification. In negotiating consent judgments with a respondent or in recommending acceptance, rejection, or offer of a tendered consent judgment, staff counsel and designated reviewer shall consider and express a recommendation on whether the consent judgment shall include revocation of certification if held by the attorney and restrictions to be placed on recertification in such areas. When certification revocation is agreed to in a consent judgment, the revocation and any conditions on recertification will be reported to the legal specialization and education director for recording purposes.