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The following attorneys have been reinstated to the practice of law after complying with Supreme Court Rule 21, which requires mandatory continuing legal education:
Aaron Edward Carlos, Sewanee; Warner Hodges III, Gainsville, Ga.; Thomas Perry, Memphis; Lon Foster West, Nashville.
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:
Aaron Edward Carlos, Sewanee; Patrick Herman Noble, Henderson, Ky.; Thomas Perry, Memphis; Quinton Trevor Piety, Knoxville; Joshua David Rand, Roswell, Ga.
Probation may be imposed on an attorney in place of suspension but should be used only in cases where (1) there is little likelihood that the attorney will harm the public during the period of rehabilitation and (2) conditions of probation " which are to be stated in writing " can be adequately supervised. The attorney placed on probation is responsible for all costs associated with probation, including paying a probation monitor. In the event that any probation conditions are not met, the Board of Professional Responsibility may file a petition to revoke probation and impose suspension.
On Feb. 14, John S. Anderson of Hawkins County was placed on probation for a minimum of two years for neglecting client matters " a charge he admitted. As a part of the probation, the Tennessee Supreme Court ordered he be monitored by another attorney and barred from practicing in Bankruptcy Court until specifically permitted to do so.
A censure declares conduct improper but does not limit the right to practice law.
On Jan. 9, Patricia A. Rust received a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility for making a misleading statement to the court and signing a certificate of service for a pleading that was not properly delivered. The board determined that her actions violated Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(d). Rust was representing a client in a child custody matter and requested the proceedings be stayed while the client was deployed to Iraq. Several days before the hearing would have occurred, the client received personal leave and was in the local jurisdiction on the originally scheduled hearing date. Rust did not inform the court of her client's return to the area because she believed the individual to still be deployed, even though on temporary leave. She has admitted that she made a misleading statement to the court.
The Board of Professional Responsibility censured David H. Hornik of Nashville on Feb. 19 for failing to respond to requests for information from both the board and a client. Hornik represented a client in a worker's compensation case that was dismissed for failure to prosecute. After the client filed a complaint with the board, Hornik acknowledged his malpractice and advised that he had notified his professional liability carrier of the probable claim. However, Hornik failed to respond to the board's requests for additional information and to his client's requests for information. The board determined that his actions violated Rules 1.3, 1.4, 8.1(b) and 8.4 of the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct.
Nashville attorney Jack Howell Davis Sr. was censured by the Board of Professional Responsibility on March 4 for failing to pay the litigation tax in a divorce action, failing to respond to a client's calls, and failing to keep a client informed of a case's status. The first complaint concerned Davis' representation of a client in a divorce. Davis filed an appeal for the client, which was later dismissed due to Davis' failure to pay the litigation tax. The Court of Appeals order stated that the court had on two occasions directed the client to pay the tax or show cause why it should not be paId. Communication by the court that was sent to Davis on behalf of his client was returned as "unclaimed." In a second complaint, a client states that he attempted unsuccessfully for months to obtain a copy of his final decree and that Davis failed to accept or return his calls. Lastly, in the third complaint, Davis represented a client in a divorce proceeding but failed to keep the client informed about the case and an upcoming hearing. The board found that his neglect and failure to communicate with clients violated Rules 1.3, 1.4, 8.1 and 8.4 of the Rules of Tennessee Professional Conduct.
Suspension is effective 10 days after issuance, except where immediate suspension is necessary to protect the public. A suspended lawyer may not accept new clients but may continue representing current clients for 30 days. The lawyer must notify all clients, co-counsel and opposing counsel of the suspension order; return to clients any papers or property to which they are entitled; not use the indicia of lawyer, legal assistant or law clerk; and not maintain a presence where the practice of law is conducted. An attorney suspended for one year or more must prove by clear and convincing evidence that he has the moral qualifications, competency and learning required for admission to the practice of law, and that resumption of his practice would not be detrimental to the integrity and standing of the bar or the administration of justice, nor be subversive to the public interest. An attorney suspended for less than one year with conditions may resume practice after complying with those conditions. An attorney suspended for less than one year with no conditions may resume practice without reinstatement.
On Feb. 25, Cleveland lawyer Virgil Duane Parker was suspended for 11 months and 29 days, retroactive to March 28, 2003. The action was taken based on a similar suspension in the state of Maryland. On Oct. 4, 2005, the Maryland Court of Appeals filed an order disbarring Parker. Upon receiving notification of the Maryland discipline, the Board of Professional Responsibility petitioned the state Supreme Court of Tennessee to impose reciprocal discipline. A special master appointed to handle the case recommended Parker be suspended for the same period of time in Tennessee as he was in Maryland.
The Tennessee Supreme Court temporarily suspended the law license of Newton S. Holiday, a Nashville attorney, on March 5 for failure to respond to a complaint of ethical misconduct. The Board of Professional Responsibility reported that Holiday's actions violated Section 4.3 of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9.
On March 13, Winchester lawyer Quisha A. Light was suspended from the practice of law for four years effective May 30, 2007. The disciplinary action stemmed from a 2007 guilty plea in which she admitted she misappropriated fees due her employer. The Board of Professional Responsibility found that Light violated Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(a)(b)(c)(d). In addition to imposing the suspension, the court ordered her to make restitution to Michelle Benjamin in the amount of $5,952.50 and pay the costs of the disciplinary proceedings.
The state Supreme Court of Tennessee issued an order temporarily suspending Knoxville lawyer Nathanael Ellis Anderson's license to practice law on March 19. The court found that he posed a threat of substantial harm to the public because he continued to represent himself as an attorney in good standing, despite a previous suspension that was still in effect. The Board of Professional Responsibility found that Anderson continued to practice law while suspended, and notified others he had been reinstated when he had not. The court's order requires Anderson to comply with Section 18 of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9.
On March 19, the Tennessee Supreme Court temporarily suspended the law license of Memphis attorney Terry A. Scott based on his failure to respond to a complaint of ethical misconduct. The Board of Professional Responsibility filed the petition pursuant to Section 4.3 of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9.
Also on March 19, the Supreme Court of Tennessee suspended the law license of David E. Woodby, who last practiced in Sullivan County. The court found that in representing a client in a bankruptcy matter, Woodby failed to place in a separate trust account money the client paid for court costs; failed for over a year to file the petition for bankruptcy as agreed; failed to refund the client's retainer when requested to do so; and failed to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility's petition for discipline. The board determined that these actions violated Rules 1.3 and 1.5 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. In addition to imposing the suspension, the court ordered Woodby to make restitution to his clients.
In Tennessee, disbarment becomes effective 10 days after an order of the court. Under the Rules of Professional Conduct, a disbarred lawyer must notify all clients, co-counsel and opposing counsel of the disbarment; must deliver to all clients any papers or property to which they are entitled; may not use the indicia of lawyer, counselor at law, legal assistant, law clerk or similar title; and may not maintain a presence or occupy an office where the practice of law is conducted. A lawyer who has been disbarred after hearing or by consent may not apply for reinstatement for at least five years. When applying, the lawyer must prove by clear and convincing evidence that reinstatement would not be detrimental to the integrity and standing of the bar or the administration of justice, nor be subversive to the public interest.
On Feb. 26, the Tennessee Supreme Court disbarred Memphis attorney Scott Eric Crawford after he pleaded guilty to federal charges of money laundering, bank larceny and obstruction of justice. The disbarment was made retroactive to March 19, 2004 " the date Crawford was temporarily suspended from the practice of law. The court's order also requires Crawford to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding and comply with all requirements and obligations of disbarred attorneys as required by Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9, Section 18.
Disability inactive status precludes an attorney from practicing law in the state immediately. The designation remains in effect until further order of the court, however the attorney is entitled to petition the court for reinstatement to active status once a year (or at shorter intervals if the court allows). To return to active status, the attorney must show by clear and convincing evidence that the disability has been removed and that he or she is fit to resume the practice of law.
The state Supreme Court transferred the law license of Chattanooga lawyer George Lane Foster to disability inactive status on Feb. 25.
The law license of Memphis lawyer Emma L. Cole was transferred to disability inactive status on March 17.
Court of the Judiciary Action
On March 24, the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary issued a public reprimand to Roane County General Sessions Judge Dennis W. Humphrey for ordering a man to be incarcerated where there was no statutory authority. During a case before him, Humphrey found Darrell K. Pearson in contempt of court and incarcerated him until he paid a $5,000 purge payment. After 68 days Humphrey reconsidered the case and released Pearson. The Court of the Judiciary determined that Pearson was wrongly held in contempt and wrongly incarcerated because he had been served by publication and not by personal service of process, and because he was not given advice about the right to counsel and appointment of counsel prior to incarceration. Writing for the court, Presiding Judge Don R. Ash stated that Humphrey failed to follow basic due process and the law of contempt, and that his actions violated Canons 2A, 3B(2) and 3(B)(8) of the Code of Judicial Conduct as well as Supreme Court Rule 13. A public letter of reprimand was released on March 28.