RULE 8. Professional Ethics Commission

(a)     Appointment. The Board shall appoint eight attorney members to the Professional Ethics Commission.

(b)     Terms of Office. Members shall be appointed for a term of four years. No member shall serve for more than two consecutive four-year terms, except that members shall continue to serve until a replacement has been appointed. A member who has served two consecutive four-year terms may not be reappointed before the expiration of at least one year. The Board may not remove members during their terms of office except for cause.

(c)     Quorum and Action. A quorum shall exist for the purposes of the Professional Ethics Commission's exercise of its authority and duties when a majority of its members are present. The concurrence of a majority of such members present shall be sufficient for any action taken.

(d)     Powers and Duties. The Professional Ethics Commission shall have the following powers and duties:

(1)     to render advisory opinions to the Court, the Board, Bar Counsel, and the Grievance Commission on matters involving the interpretation and application of the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct;

(2)     to receive ethical questions posed by members of the Maine bar involving the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct and to determine whether to issue a formal advisory opinion;

(3)     to make recommendations to the Board or to the Advisory Committee on the Rules of Professional Conduct regarding amendments to the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct; and

(4)     to maintain an indexed compilation of its opinions.

(e)     Opinions as Evidence. Opinions of the Professional Ethics Commission shall be admissible in any proceeding in which the interpretation or application of a provision of the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct is at issue.

(f)     Confidentiality With the exception of an advisory opinion finally rendered pursuant to this rule, all inquiries, replies, records, documents, files, and proceedings pertaining to the interpretation of ethical rules and the rendering of advisory opinions with respect thereto shall be confidential, and, unless otherwise ordered by the Court, shall not be opened to the public, press, or any person not involved in the rendering of the advisory opinions, excepting only the staff and members of the Professional Ethics Commission and their professional associates actively involved in working on an advisory opinion for such member, the staff and members of the Grievance Commission, Bar Counsel, the staff and members of the Board, and the Court. No person shall publicly disclose the identity of another individual whose conduct was the subject of an advisory opinion without the consent of that individual.

(g)     Destruction of Confidential Documents. Upon conclusion of service, members shall take reasonable steps to destroy all documents, in paper or electronic format, relating to the proceedings of the Board and subject to the confidentiality provisions of these rules.


Reporter’s Notes – June 2015

Rule 8(a) is consistent with former Maine Bar Rule 4(d)(20) appointing eight attorney members to serve on the Professional Ethics Commission. There is no Model Rule equivalent.

Rule 8(b) is based on former Maine Bar Rule 11(a). There is no Model Rule equivalent. The revised rule omits reference to the “initial members of the Commission” because such a situation is no longer applicable. The revised rule adds that Commission members shall not be subject to removal by the Board except for cause.

Rule 8(c) is based on former Maine Bar Rule 11(b). There is no Model Rule equivalent. The committee adopted the former Maine Bar Rule in its entirety.

Rule 8(d) is based on former Maine Bar Rule 11(c). There is no Model Rule equivalent. The most significant change reflected by the revised rule is the elimination of the mandates of former Maine Bar Rule 11(c)(3), which requires the maintenance of a library containing opinions on ethical questions. Due to widespread Internet usage, the commission viewed the dictates of former Maine Bar Rule 11(c)(3) as outdated and no longer necessary.

Rule 8(e) is based on former Maine Bar Rule 11(d). There is no Model Rule equivalent. The committee adopted the former Maine Bar Rule in its entirety.

Rule 8(f) is based on former Maine Bar Rule 11(f). There is no Model Rule equivalent. The committee adopted the former Maine Bar Rule in its entirety.