Disciplinary Actions

Reinstated

On June 30, Carthage attorney Jacquelyn M. Scott was reinstated to the practice of law. She was suspended on April 22, 2009. Scott filed a petition for reinstatement in December 2009 and the Board of Professional Responsibility determined that Scott had the moral qualifications, competency and learning in the law required to practice law and that her reinstatement would not be detrimental to the integrity or standing of the bar or the administration of justice, or subversive to the public interest.

Memphis lawyer Michael Lee Spencer was reinstated to the practice of law on July 7 after complying with Supreme Court Rule 21, which requires mandatory continuing legal education. He was suspended in August 2009.

Knoxville attorney Keith A. Pope was reinstated to the practice of law on July 8 after being temporarily suspended in June for posing a threat of substantial harm to the public. Pope filed a petition for dissolution of the suspension on July 2 and a hearing panel recommended he be reinstated with the following conditions: (1) total compliance with a monitoring agreement entered into with the Tennessee Lawyers' Assistance Program and (2) extension of the monitoring agreement for an additional three years. The Board of Professional Responsibility also requested that the Tennessee Lawyers' Assistance Program immediately notify it of any noncompliance by Pope.

The Tennessee Supreme Court on July 21 temporarily suspended the law license of Nashville lawyer Ivan Omar Lopez for failure to comply with his Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program monitoring agreement. After filing a petition for dissolution with the court, Lopez was reinstated on   Aug. 11.

Censured

Hamilton County lawyer Albert L. Watson III received a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility on July 14 for failing to file an appellate brief and communicate with a client. Watson was hired to appeal the appointment of a conservator. He filed a notice of appeal, but failed to file the appellate brief. As a result, the appeal was dismissed. In addition, Watson failed to communicate with his client regarding the status and outcome of the case. The board found that he violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2, 1.3 and 1.4.

On July 16, Knoxville lawyer Raymond Shirley Jr. received a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility for several ethical violations. In January 2009, Shirley was retained to represent a client who had been incarcerated on felony charges. He advised the client's previous counsel that he had been retained to take over the case but did not file a notice with the court for five months. In addition, he was unable to explain the delay when requested to do so by the board. Later, Shirley failed to respond to calls regarding the status of the case. Then in October 2009, while suspended for failure to comply with CLE requirements, Shirley met with the assistant district attorney to discuss his client's case. The board determined that these actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4, 5.5 and 1.8(b).

Morgan County lawyer Andrew N. Hall was censured by the Board of Professional Responsibility on July 21 for failing to have his client sign or swear to a petition filed in chancery court. Hall agreed to represent a prison inmate in a post-conviction matter and filed a writ of certiorari. However, he did not have the inmate sign or swear to the petition. Opposing counsel filed a motion to dismiss the petition based on that oversight. Because Hall did not remedy the failure within the allowable time frame, the case was dismissed. The board determined that his actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1 and 1.3.

Suspended

The Tennessee Supreme Court on July 1 suspended the law license of Knoxville attorney Kathy Stillman for one year and ordered her to pay restitution to 12 clients for a total amount of more than $16,000. The court determined that Stillman violated disciplinary rules in 15 separate complaints by failing to communicate with clients, failing to diligently represent clients, failing to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility, and accepting monies from clients while failing to perform any legal services. The court found that she violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 8.1 and 8.4. The court also ordered Stillman to pay the costs of her disciplinary proceeding.

On July 7, Fred T. Hanzelik of Chattanooga was censured and suspended for 30 days. He also was ordered to pay the costs of his disciplinary proceeding and pay $6,379.34 in restitution to a former client. In investigating complaints against Hanzelik, the Tennessee Supreme Court determined that he failed to disburse or provide an accounting of a settlement, engaged in a matter involving a conflict of interest, and failed to communicate with the Board of
Professional Responsibility and his client. The court found that these
actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.4, 1.7, 1.15, 8.1 and 8.4.

On July 21, the Tennessee Supreme Court temporarily suspended Tullahoma attorney Robert Thomas Carter for failing to comply with his Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program monitoring agreement.

Greeneville lawyer Francis Xavier Santore was suspended on July 23 for 33 months " 45 days of which are to be served as an active suspension with the remainder to be served on probation. The court also ordered Santore to remain compliant with his Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program monitoring agreement and continue mental health counseling, as well as pay the costs of his disciplinary proceeding. The discipline came in response to Santore's courtroom behavior, which included throwing a cup of coffee and cursing loudly after learning that the opposing party intended to contest a matter before the court. An irate Santore then left the courtroom and went down the stairs toward the lobby. As he descended the stairs, he pulled a handrail from the stairwell causing damage to the courthouse. His actions were found to have violated Rules of Professional Conduct: 8.4(a)(b) and (d). Santore also was criminally charged with vandalism under $500. On March 27, 2009, he was sentenced to 11 months and 29 days in jail, with all time suspended on unsupervised probation.

On July 27, Memphis attorney Timothy Darnell Flowers was suspended from the practice of law for three years and ordered to pay restitution to a former client and pay the cost of his disciplinary proceeding. The suspension will run concurrent with a previous one-year suspension imposed by the Tennessee Supreme Court on June 4. Among the 12 complaints filed against Flowers, the court determined that he failed to act diligently in pursuing clients' interests. The court found that he accepted fees to file appeals with the Board of Immigration Appeals but then failed to file the briefs or offer legal analysis to support the appeals. The court also found that he failed to (1) communicate properly with clients about the status of their cases, (2) appear at a deportation hearing, (3) refund legal fees, and (4) respond to inquiries by the Board of Professional Responsibility. The court determined that his actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.15, 1.16, 8.1 and 8.4.

Disbarred

Anthony W. Turner of Crossville was disbarred by the Tennessee Supreme Court on July 27 and ordered to pay restitution to seven clients and pay the costs of his disciplinary proceeding. In November 2009, a petition for discipline containing 14 complaints was filed against Turner. He did not respond and a default order was entered. The court found that Turner (1) abandoned his law practice, (2) accepted fees from clients but failed to perform any work or appear at any hearings, (3) knowingly delayed payment of settlement proceeds, and (4) fraudulently enticed three individuals to make temporary loans to a client by providing false information about the source and accessibility of funds available for repayment. The court determined that these actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.16, 3.2, 8.1 and 8.4.  

Disability Inactive

Williamson County lawyer Craig Burgess Benson was placed on disability inactive status on July 27. Benson may not practice law until he shows by clear and convincing evidence that the disability has been removed and he is fit to resume the practice of law.