Disciplinary Actions

Reinstated

Rebecca Gardner Coffee of Memphis has been reinstated to the practice of law after complying with Supreme Court Rule 21, which requires mandatory continuing legal education.

LaShundra Latrice Davis-Culpepper of Memphis has 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.

Memphis attorney Tony N. Brayton was reinstated to the practice of law on Sept. 5. He had been suspended on Aug. 6 for failing to respond to a misconduct complaint.

Memphis attorney John Lewis Dolan was reinstated to the practice of law on Sept. 8. He had been suspended on Nov. 21, 2007, for failing to respond to a misconduct complaint.

Kingston attorney Spence R. Bruner was reinstated to the practice of law on Sept. 10 after being suspended on Jan. 29 for failing to comply with a monitoring agreement. The day after being reinstated, he was suspended again, but the court made the new 90-day suspension retroactive to the January date, allowing Bruner to resume the practice of law immediately. The second suspension was imposed for neglecting clients' cases and failing to communicate with clients " actions that also led to suspension from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Bruner submitted a conditional guilty plea and agreed to serve a three-year probation.

Memphis attorney Michael Latimore was reinstated to the practice of law on Sept. 11 after being suspended on May 2 for failing to respond to a misconduct complaint.



Censured

A censure declares conduct improper but does not limit the right to practice law.

The Tennessee Supreme Court publicly censured Brentwood lawyer Charles Craig Morrow on Aug. 19 for two separate violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct: filing a motion against the interest of his client and failing to obtain a written waiver of conflict in representing two parties who had conflicting or potentially conflicting interests. In the first matter, Morrow personally guaranteed a bond required for his client to qualify as executor of an estate. When the client discharged Morrow as counsel, Morrow filed a motion to withdraw, as well as a motion to remove the client as executor. This second motion was against the interest of his client. In the second matter, Morrow filed a petition on behalf of a ward's son to appoint the son conservator of the ward. The ward joined the petition, stating under oath that she needed a conservator and wanted her son to take that role. Another of the ward's sons subsequently filed a petition to be appointed conservator, to which Morrow filed an answer on behalf of the ward. No written waiver of conflict was obtained permitting Morrow to represent the ward and the first son, who had conflicting or potentially conflicting interests. An attorney ad litem was subsequently appointed to represent the ward. The court determined that in both matters, Morrow's actions violated Rule 1.7 of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

The state Supreme Court on Sept. 8 publicly censured Texas lawyer Douglas R. Dadisman, who practices in San Antonio. After the Board of Professional Responsibility filed a petition for discipline against him, Dadisman submitted a conditional guilty plea in which he admitted failing to return telephone calls from a client. However, he stated that the failure occurred at a time when he was caring for his terminally ill father. The court determined that his actions violated the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Shelbyville lawyer Clarence W. Phillips received a public censure from the Tennessee Supreme Court on Sept. 8, after being found to have solicited employment from a prospective client who had not initiated contact and with whom he had no prior relationship. After the Board of Professional Responsibility filed a petition for discipline, Phillips submitted a conditional guilty plea and agreed to the censure. The court determined that he violated Rules of Professional Conduct 7.3 and 8.4 and ordered him to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceedings.

The Supreme Court of Tennessee publicly censured Gallatin lawyer Randy P. Lucas on Sept. 11 for violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct. After the Board of Professional Responsibility filed a petition for discipline, Lucas admitted he borrowed money from a client and agreed to a conditional guilty plea. Lucas accepted the censure and made full restitution to the client's estate.



Suspended

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 Aug. 29, the Supreme Court of Tennessee summarily and temporarily suspended Nashville lawyer Anna Everton Haas after finding that she did not respond to the Board of Professional Conduct regarding a complaint of misconduct. Section 4.3 of Supreme Court Rule 9 provides for immediate summary suspension of an attorney's license when an attorney fails to respond to a complaint.

The Tennessee Supreme Court summarily and temporarily suspended Sullivan County lawyer Suzanne Shackelford Queen on Aug. 29 after determining that she did not respond to the Board of Professional Conduct regarding a complaint of misconduct.

On Sept. 8, Memphis lawyer Barry E. Gilmore was suspended for one year by the state Supreme Court, having been found in violation of multiple professional conduct rules. The court found that he failed to communicate with clients; prosecute pending cases; properly notify clients, opposing counsel and the courts of a new business address after moving; and enter orders of withdrawal in cases where he ceased providing legal services. The court determined that his actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4(a)(b), 1.16(a)(1)(2)(d)(1)(2), 3.4(c) and 8.4(a)(c)(d), and Rule 9 sections 18.1, 18.6 and 18.8 of the Rules of the Supreme Court. Gilmore also was ordered to pay the expenses and costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

The state Supreme Court on Sept. 8 suspended the law license of Nashville lawyer Matthew F. Mayo for three months for multiple ethics violations. However, the court suspended all but 45 days and placed Mayo on probation with conditions. The conditions include payment of the disciplinary proceeding's costs; restitution of $150 to a client within 180 days; enrollment in and successful completion of a law practice management course; and use of a law practice mentor. The Board of Professional Responsibility began disciplinary action against May on allegations of failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing clients, failing to keep clients fully informed, and failing to respond to a request for information from clients. After a hearing, the board and the court determined that Mayo's actions violated the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Nashville lawyer Linda Diane Schlanger Harris was suspended from the practice of law for five years, retroactive to June 29, 2006. The Board of Professional Responsibility filed a petition for final discipline against Harris based on her guilty plea to the charge of conspiracy to defraud mortgage loan companies and financial institutions. Harris submitted a conditional guilty plea and agreed to the suspension.

The Tennessee Supreme Court suspended Sevierville lawyer Ronald R. Reagan on Sept. 12 after he pleaded guilty to the serious crime of possession of a computer hard drive containing three or more visual depictions of child pornography, which have been shipped via interstate commerce. That guilty plea came on July 24. Following the plea, Reagan petitioned the court to surrender his law license. The court rejected that motion and referred the matter to the Board of Professional Responsibility. The formal proceeding concluded with a recommendation for suspension.

On Sept. 17, the Supreme Court suspended the Tennessee law license of Kari M. Morton of Madisonville, Ky., after the Supreme Court of Kentucky imposed a 30-day suspension. Complaints filed against Morton in Kentucky alleged that she failed to diligently represent clients; failed to properly advise clients; engaged in conduct involving fraud, deceit or misrepresentation; and failed to respond to inquiries from the disciplinary counsel. Morton did not dispute the allegations. In addition to suspending Morton, the Tennessee Supreme Court ordered her to pay the expenses and costs of the Tennessee disciplinary proceedings.

On Sept. 18, the Supreme Court suspended the Tennessee law license of Richard K. Cameron of Hopkinsville, Ky., after the Supreme Court of Kentucky imposed a 181-day suspension. The Kentucky court allowed 60 of those days to be served on probation conditioned on compliance with a monitoring agreement, paying restitution to clients and paying the cost of the Kentucky disciplinary proceeding. The complaints filed against Cameron in Kentucky alleged that he failed to competently and diligently represent his clients, failed to charge a reasonable fee, and failed to respond to inquiries from the disciplinary counsel. In addition to suspending Cameron, the Tennessee Supreme Court ordered him to pay the expenses and costs of the Tennessee disciplinary proceedings.



Rule 21 Suspensions

The following attorneys were suspended by the Supreme Court on Aug. 27 for failing to comply with Rule 21 of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court, which requires mandatory continuing legal education. Attorneys who have since complied with the rule are noted as reinstated.

TENNESSEE
Antioch: Thomas Wayne Watson
Blountville: Paul Aldine Harr (reinstated)
Brentwood: Henry Roger Allison III, Shelley Renee Morrison-Taylor, Parrish Blake Stanton
Buchanan: Victoria Leora DiBonaventure (reinstated)
Chattanooga: Catherine Leigh Akin (reinstated), Robert Natole Farinacci, James Robert McKoon (reinstated), Robert Philip Rayburn (reinstated), Joseph Edward Settle III (reinstated), Michael Gregory Williams
Columbia: James Clifford Walker
Franklin: Donald L. Groninger
Germantown: Frederick Adolph Fiedler (reinstated), David Murray Moneypeny (reinstated)
Hendersonville: Randall Hugh Stamps
Henry: Cynthia Marie Nienaber
Jackson: Ramsdale O'DeNeal Jr., Jason Bradley Rudd (reinstated)
Jefferson City: C. Douglas Berryhill (reinstated)
Knoxville: Kenneth Allen Corum, Lisa Belle Hatfield, Michael T. McClamroch (reinstated), D'Artagnan Honre Perry, Darren E. Ridenour (reinstated),
Lebanon: Adam Wilding Parrish (reinstated)
Madison: Michael Henry Sneed (reinstated)
Madisonville: Barry Keith Maxwell (reinstated)
Memphis: Lenal Anderson Jr. (reinstated), Michelle Lorraine Betserai, Rebecca Gardner Coffee (reinstated), James Louis Coggin, Veronica Lynette Fair-Miller, Buffey Elizabeth Klein, Donnie Ray McFerren (reinstated), Robert Joseph Ross II (reinstated), Dewun R. Settle (reinstated), David W. Spence, Murray Bruce Wells (reinstated)
Mt. Juliet: Linda C. Elam (reinstated)
Murfreesboro: Tony Lawrence Maples (reinstated)
Nashville: Kristen Danette Bailey (reinstated), Richard Patrick Cassidy (reinstated), William Claude Collins Jr. (reinstated), Gary Dean Copas (reinstated), David Michael Hannah, Eugene James Honea (reinstated), Matthew Fort Mayo (reinstated), James David Moyers, Jennifer Renée Rich Mueller, Roger Price Nimmo, Susan Elizabeth Schwab, Glenn Douglas Tackett Jr.
Old Hickory: Nathan William Conrey
Oliver Springs: Lisa Anne Temple
Pleasant View: Richard Edward Jackson
Powell: Kristin Alyse Godsey (reinstated), Randy Keith Miller

OUT-OF-STATE
Alabama: John Finley Porter III, Judy Brogdon Van Heest (reinstated)
Arkansas: Ryan Campbell Allen
California: Charles Anderson Mayfield Jr.
District of Columbia: Paul F. McQuade, Sunshine Phebus Whiting (reinstated)
Florida: David William Batchelder, Harold Scott Bates (reinstated), William Jay Blechman, LaFonda Evette Gipson-Middleton (reinstated), Gary Bryan Parrish, April Elaine Rolle
Georgia: John William Davis Jr., James A. Meaney III, Carl L. Sollee
Kentucky: John Michael Brown
Louisiana: Scott Eason Meece
Mississippi: Brian L. Davis, John Brian Hyneman, Tacey Clark Locke, John Michael Sherman, Calvin C. Williams Jr. (reinstated)
New York: Joseph M. Dash (reinstated)
Ohio: Jeanne M. Rea (reinstated)
South Carolina: W. James Ellison, Robert Wayne Parker
Texas: Michael David King, Kevin Lamar Sewell (reinstated)
Virginia: Stephen M. Crampton, David Nelson Shelley

Disbarred

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 Sept. 8, Nashville lawyer James David Leckrone was disbarred by order of the Tennessee Supreme Court. The Board of Professional Responsibility filed a petition for final discipline against Leckrone based on a guilty plea in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee for filing a false tax return. Leckrone consented to the disbarment.

Johnson City lawyer Arthur Scott Pratt was disbarred by order of the Tennessee Supreme Court on Sept. 8 after submitting a conditional guilty plea to multiple violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The court found that Pratt advised a client to perjure herself in court (which also resulted in a contempt charge); demonstrated a pattern of failing to appear in court and leaving prematurely; entered a guilty plea on behalf of a client that was not in accordance with the client's instructions; submitted an affidavit to the court that appeared forged; left an obscene message on a newspaper reporter's answering machine; refused to return a file to a client; and maintained a Web site containing misleading legal advice. The court determined that these actions adversely affected clients and the judicial system, and in one case increased a client's time in prison and made him ineligible for alternative sentencing. Pratt was found to have violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.2(a)(d), 1.3, 1.4, 1.5(a)(d), 1.6(a), 1.7(b), 1.15(a)(b), 1.16(a)(d), 3.2, 3.3, 3.4(b)(c), 3.5(e), 4.1(a), 4.4(a), 7.1(a)(b), 8.2(a), and 8.4(b)(c)(d). The court made the disbarment retroactive to the date of a prior suspension imposed on Jan. 23, 2006, and ordered Pratt to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceedings.



Disability Inactive

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.

Nashville lawyer James R. Everett III was transferred to disability inactive status by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Sept. 8 for an indefinite period of time and until further order of the court. Everett requested the change in status on May 9 and agreed to pay the Board of Professional Responsibility's expenses and costs relating to the transfer.



Court of the Judiciary

On Sept. 23, the Court of the Judiciary settled the case of Cocke County General Sessions Judge John A. Bell. Bell had been accused of sentencing defendants to probation terms that forced them to pay fees to his brother-in-law's probation company. The order stipulates that the parties agree to forego any allegations in the formal complaint with the agreement that Bell will discontinue his use of the probation service in question, or any other service owned by a relative. Specifically, the order prohibits Bell or any of his agents from "appointing or using a private probation service that is owned, has a director, executive director, agent or employee that is related to Judge Bell or his wife by blood or marriage, or whose relationship to Judge Bell would lead a reasonable person to the conclusion that the appointment or use of that probation service was based on nepotism or favoritism, thereby creating an appearance of impropriety." The order was signed by Bell and his attorney, presiding judge Mary Martin Schaffner and disciplinary counsel. According to the order, the parties agreed to the settlement "in an effort to resolve these issues in an economic and efficient manner."

Compiled by Stacey Shrader from information obtained from the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Tennessee Supreme Court