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Rule 12:
Access to Disciplinary Information

(a) Confidentiality.

(1) Except as otherwise provided in these rules, the charges, investigations, hearings, and other proceedings under these rules are confidential; in no case will the affidavit required under Rule 10 be released.

(2) For purposes of this Rule:

(A) The term "nonpublic information" includes, but is not limited to, all documents in a proceeding under these rules other than public orders issued by the Court pursuant to these rules; and

(B) the term "predecisional or advisory documents" includes, but is not limited to, the report of the Committee, if any; communications within the Court; and any records of disclosures described in subsection (f) below.

(b) Public Nature of Sanctions and Orders. Except where specifically provided otherwise by these rules, all public discipline will be announced in public orders that will set forth the rationale for imposing the sanction. See also Rule 5(e).

(c) Request for Release of Nonpublic Information. Except as provided below, the Clerk will, in response to a request under this subsection, deny release of nonpublic information.

(1) On request, the practitioner concerned will be mailed a copy of the Court's file, including the Committee report but not other predecisional or advisory documents.

(2) The Clerk may disclose the pendency, general subject matter, and status of an ongoing proceeding if:

(A) The practitioner concerned has waived confidentiality, in writing; or

(B) there is an immediate need to notify another person or organization as to some matter in order to protect the interests of that person or organization other than an interest at issue in a case pending before the Court.

(3) (A) Subject to the limitations in subparagraphs (B) and (C) below, the Clerk may provide public and nonpublic documents (but not predecisional or advisory documents) to:

(i) Another federal court to which the practitioner concerned is admitted or has applied for admission, or a state court or agency authorized to investigate attorney conduct for admission or discipline; or

(ii) to such other governmental investigative agency as the Court directs in a particular case.

(B) Except as provided in subparagraph (C) below, before a release of any nonpublic information under subparagraph (A) above and if the practitioner concerned has not provided a written waiver of confidentiality, the Clerk will mail a notification to the practitioner concerned, at his or her last known address, of the request, the identity of the requesting court or agency, and the nature of the documents intended to be released. The notification will advise the practitioner concerned that the information will be released unless the practitioner has filed with the Clerk an objection not later than 21 days after the date of the notice. If an objection is filed, the information will remain confidential except as provided in subparagraph (C) below.

(C) Without notice or waiver, the Clerk will release only the minimum nonpublic information necessary to respond to a request under subparagraph (A) above and only as a Panel directs in a particular case and only if the requesting court official or head of the agency certifies in writing that:

(i) The request is made as part of an ongoing investigation into the conduct of the practitioner concerned; and

(ii) the information is essential to that investigation; and

(iii) disclosure of the existence of the investigation to the practitioner concerned would seriously prejudice that investigation.

(d) Records of Disclosures. All requests for information and responses thereto, with any internal advice on the propriety and extent of any release, will be maintained as a part of the disciplinary file concerned.

(e) Duty of Confidentiality. All persons privy to a proceeding under these rules must, and all Court personnel with knowledge of such proceedings will, maintain the confidentiality mandated by this Rule.

(f) Disclosure of Redacted Material. Nothing in this Rule or otherwise in these rules shall prevent the Court from adopting a process for making public redacted orders or summaries thereof regarding private discipline imposed or not imposed by the Court. Redaction and summarization shall attempt to protect the identity of a practitioner concerned.

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