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Committee on Professional Responsibility for Clerks Rule 5: Confidentiality

[Disclaimer]

A. Except as provided in Rules 6(E), 6(F) and 6(H), all proceedings prior to the filing of formal charges shall be confidential.

B. Records, files, and reports of the Committee shall be confidential, and no disclosure shall be made, except as follows:

1. Upon waiver in writing by the clerk at any stage of the proceedings;

2. Upon inquiry by an appointing authority or by a state or federal agency conducting an investigation on behalf of such authority, in which case the Committee may:

(a) divulge whatever information is a matter of public record;

(b) after obtaining the clerk's signed waiver, divulge other relevant information; and

(c) divulge other relevant information after giving written notice to the clerk affected of its intention to do so and allowing the clerk seven days to respond.

3. In cases in which the subject matter has become public, the Committee may issue such statements as it deems appropriate in order to confirm the pendency of the investigation, to clarify the procedural aspects of the proceedings, to explain the right of the clerk to a fair hearing, or to state that the clerk denies the allegations.

4. Formal charges become public ten days after the date of issuance or upon the filing of the clerk's response, whichever first occurs. In the case of formal proceedings, only the formal charges, the answer thereto, the evidentiary hearings thereon, and the final recommendation by the Committee as to disposition shall become public, except as provided in paragraph D below.

C. Where the circumstances necessitating the initiation of an inquiry or the conduct in question is a matter of public record, information concerning the lack of cause to proceed may be released by the Committee.

D. Proceedings may remain confidential, even after the filing of formal charges, if the clerk, the Committee, and the complainant, if any, all concur.

E. If, in the course of its proceedings, the Committee becomes aware of credible evidence that any person has committed a crime, the Committee may report such evidence to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

F. The Committee may, from time to time, issue press releases and other public statements explaining the nature of its jurisdiction, the procedure for filing complaints, limitations upon its powers and authority, and reports on the conduct of the affairs of the Committee, provided that such releases and reports shall not identify by name, position, address or otherwise any person involved in any proceedings before the Committee.

G. The Committee may issue public statements and release information concerning its proceedings and reports at the direction of the Supreme Judicial Court. At any time, the Committee may request that the Supreme Judicial Court release appropriate information concerning the proceedings of the Committee.

H. Nothing in this Rule shall preclude the Committee from taking such action as may be necessary to investigate complaints and conduct preliminary proceedings in accordance with Rule 7.