On November 7, 2017, the South Dakota Supreme Court will consider a number of proposed modifications to the appendix to SDCL chapter 16-17, which sets forth the by-laws of the South Dakota State Bar, as well as amendments to SDCL 16-18-34.4 and the Rules of Professional Conduct.

The Notice of Special Rules Hearing 136 addresses six proposed amendments:

  • First, Section 34 of the bylaws of the South Dakota State Bar will provide that electronic communication may be used in connection with all matters contemplated by the Bylaws.
  • Second, Section 35 will provide that meetings of the Board of Bar Commissioners may be held with less than required notice upon unanimous consent of the Commission.
  • Third, Section 36 will provide that any action required by law or required by the bylaws to be taken at a meeting of the Board of Bar Commissioners, or any action which may be taken at a meeting of the Commissioners, may be taken without a meeting if a consent in writing, setting forth the action so taken, shall be signed by all the commissioners, which has the same force and effect as a unanimous vote.
  • Fourth, Section 37 will require a Bar Commissioner to timely advise the Commission of a conflict of interest and will set forth the Commission’s options upon notice of a conflict of interest.
  • Fifth, the Court proposes that SDCL 16-18-34.4 be amended to provide that persons placed on medical, rather that disability, inactive status under SDCL 16-19-48 or 16-19-92 shall not serve as a legal assistant in South Dakota.
  • Finally, the Court proposes that Rule 8.3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, which requires a lawyer to report another lawyer’s unethical conduct, be amended.  Under the amended version, the rule does not apply to information obtained by a lawyer or judge as a member of a committee, organization, or related group established or approved by the South Dakota State Bar or the South Dakota Supreme Court to assist lawyers, judges, or law students.  Furthermore, a member of an entity established to assist lawyers, judges, or law students would not be required to treat as confidential communications that cause him or her to believe a person intends or contemplates harming herself or himself or a reasonably identifiable person, and that the disclosure of that information to the potential victim is reasonably believed to be able to assist in preventing the harm.