Disciplinary Actions

Reinstated

The following attorneys have been reinstated to the practice of law after complying with Supreme Court Rule 21, which requires mandatory continuing legal education:
Daniel William Champney, Nashville
Norman Gregory Durham, Sanford, N.C.
Andre Philip Johnson, Nashville
Mary Hovious Stout, Memphis

The following attorneys have been reinstated to the practice of law after complying with Section 20 of Supreme Court Rule 9, which requires the payment of annual registration fees:
Varonica R. Cooper, Cordova
Helen Mary Donnelly, Jamesville, N.Y.
Charles Everett Robinson, Rocky Mount, N.C.
Teresa Annette Scott, Bowie, Md.
James Robert Smoot, Memphis

Dyersburg attorney Martin Lynn Howie was reinstated to the practice of law on Dec. 11, 2009. He had been suspended on Sept. 16, 2009, for failure to respond to a complaint of misconduct.

Reinstatement Denied

On Dec. 8, 2009, the Tennessee Supreme Court denied a request from Knoxville lawyer James L. Milligan Jr. that his law license be reinstated. In June 2005, Milligan was suspended for two years for misappropriation of funds. In June 2007, he petitioned the court to reinstate his license. In evaluating reinstatement requests, the court determines whether the suspended attorney has, by clear and convincing evidence, proven that he or she has met three criteria. In this case, the court determined that Milligan failed to prove two of the three criteria: having the moral qualifications to practice law and that resumption of practice would not be detrimental to the integrity and standing of the bar or the administration of justice, or subversive to the public interest. He must wait three years before seeking reinstatement again.

Censured

On Dec. 7, 2009, Robert Farinacci, an Ohio attorney licensed to practice in Tennessee, received a public censure from the Tennessee Supreme Court for continuing to practice law while suspended. Farinacci was suspended on Aug. 29, 2008, for noncompliance with continuing legal education (CLE) requirements. He subsequently complied with the requirements and paid the requisite fines and fees. On Dec. 8, 2008, his law license was returned to active status. After reviewing the matter, the court determined that while suspended Farinacci violated Rule 5.5 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, which prohibits the unauthorized practice of law.

On Dec. 21, 2009, Hendersonville attorney Cheryl J. Skidmore was publicly censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court for failing to ensure that an order was sent to opposing counsel and that the order adequately reflected the judgment of the Juvenile Court. Skidmore submitted a conditional guilty plea and agreed to the suspension. The court determined that her actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 3.1, 3.2(a), 3.3(a)(b) and 8.4(a). In addition to imposing the censure, the court ordered Skidmore to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

Chattanooga lawyer Tabitha Finch was publicly censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Dec. 22, 2009, for failing to diligently represent clients, communicate with clients, properly terminate representations of clients and adequately respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility. The court determined that her actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.16, 8.1(b) and 8.4(a). Finch submitted a conditional guilty plea and agreed to the censure. In addition to imposing the censure, the court ordered Finch to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

Lawrenceburg lawyer James Daniel Freemon was publicly censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Dec. 22, 2009, for failing either to withdraw from representation of his client or to notify the court of false testimony presented by a witness for the state in the prosecution of his client. Freemon submitted a conditional guilty plea and agreed to the censure. The court found that his actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 3.3 and 8.4(a). In addition to imposing the censure, the court ordered Freemon to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

Suspended

The Supreme Court of Tennessee on Nov. 25, 2009, temporarily suspended Jackson lawyer Charles Mark Pullen from the practice for failure to comply with his Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program contract.

On Nov. 30, 2009, Franklin lawyer W. Ray Culp III was suspended for five years after pleading guilty to one count of attempted extortion in the case of USA v. Culp. Culp entered a conditional guilty plea in the disciplinary matter and accepted the suspension. The five-year suspension takes into account time spent on summary suspension since April 3, 2006, and two and one half years of a suspension imposed on Sept. 30, 2008. The Tennessee Supreme Court found that Culp's actions violated Rule 8.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. In addition to imposing the suspension, the court ordered Culp to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

The Supreme Court of Tennessee temporarily suspended the law license of Dickson lawyer William Warren Leech on Nov. 30, 2009, for failure to comply with his agreement with the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program. The suspension remains in effect until dissolution or modification by the court.

On Nov. 30, 2009, Knoxville lawyer John O. Threadgill was suspended for one year for three violations of the disciplinary rules. The court found that he habitually deposited client funds into personal accounts rather than maintaining the funds in trust accounts; failed to provide clients with regular, accurate accountings; and converted client funds " violations of Disciplinary Rule 9-102 of the former Code of Professional Responsibility and Rules 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.15, 1.16 and 8.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. In addition to imposing the suspension, the court ordered Threadgill to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

On Dec. 3, 2009, the Tennessee Supreme Court temporarily suspended Covington lawyer Richard D. Cartwright from the practice of law after finding that he failed to substantially comply with a contract entered into with the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program. Cartwright is also serving a suspension related to a prior disciplinary matter.

The Supreme Court of Tennessee temporarily suspended the license of Maryville lawyer Charles Alphonso Carpenter on Dec. 8, 2009, after he failed to respond to a complaint of ethical misconduct. The suspension remains in effect until dissolution or modification by the court.

Murfreesboro lawyer Tony Lawrence Maples was temporarily suspended on Dec. 8, 2009, after he failed to respond to a complaint of ethical misconduct. The suspension remains in effect until dissolution or modification by the court.

Waynesboro lawyer John Wilburn Castleman Jr. was suspended on Dec. 14, 2009, for failure to respond to a complaint of ethical misconduct. The suspension remains in effect until dissolution or modification by the court.

On Dec. 23, 2009, Memphis lawyer Charles A. Sevier was suspended by the Tennessee Supreme Court for failing to inform a client that he had an affair with that client's wife prior to representing the client in a divorce proceeding against the wife. The court imposed a one-year suspension but allowed Sevier to serve the last six months on probation so long as he satisfactorily completes six months of active suspension. The court also ordered him to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding. The court determined that Sevier's actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.7 and 8.4. Sevier submitted a conditional guilty plea and accepted the suspension.

Disbarred

On Dec. 1, 2009, the Tennessee Supreme Court disbarred Chattanooga lawyer Robert Philip Rayburn Sr. for a number of ethics violations. The court found that he knowingly and repeatedly deprived clients of funds to which they were entitled, commingled a client's settlement proceeds with his own personal funds, and failed to be forthcoming with clients as to when funds owed to them would be paid. The court determined that these actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.2(a), 1.3, 1.4, 1.15(a)(b)(c), 1.16(d) and 8.4(a)(b)(c)(d). In addition to imposing the disbarment, the court ordered Rayburn to pay $46,829.24 in restitution to a former client and pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

Disability Inactive

On Nov. 24, 2009, the Tennessee Supreme Court temporarily suspended Martin lawyer Kyle Eric Crowe for misappropriating client funds for his own use. The next day, the court stayed the suspension and transferred Crowe to disability inactive status. Crowe cannot practice law while on disability inactive status, and can return to active practice only after reinstatement by the court. If and when Crowe is reinstated, the suspension again will take effect.