Disciplinary Actions

Reinstated

Edward Victor Longinotti III of Nashville was reinstated to the practice of law on Jan. 6 after complying with Section 20 of Supreme Court Rule 9, which requires the payment of annual registration fees.

Wilson County lawyer Gary Wayne Vandever was reinstated to the practice of law on Jan. 7. He had been on temporary suspension since Dec. 1, 2008, for failing to respond to a complaint of misconduct. Vandever then filed a petition for dissolution of the suspension. A hearing was conducted on Dec. 22, 2008, and the panel recommended that the suspension be dissolved. The court agreed and granted his reinstatement.

Michael William Kardash of Reston, Va., was reinstated to the practice of law on Jan. 27 after complying with Supreme Court Rule 21, which requires mandatory continuing legal education. He had been suspended since January 2002.


Censured

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

On Jan. 5, Charles G. Currier of Knoxville was publicly censured for being "grossly negligent and in willful contempt" for having failed to file appellate briefs in two criminal cases. He previously had been sentenced to five days in jail by the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. Currier avoided the sentence by filing the briefs by the final date set by the court.

Sevier County lawyer Brent Edwin Lowe received a public censure from the Tennessee Supreme Court on Jan. 5 for failing to reimburse a client $400.11 after preparing an inaccurate closing statement. A hearing panel considered the matter and issued a public censure, which was adopted by the Supreme Court. The court determined that Lowe violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.15(b) and 8.4 (c) and ordered him to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

Chattanooga lawyer James A. Hurst Jr. was publicly censured on Jan. 8 for failing to pay adequate attention to his client's collection case, misleading his client as to the status of the case, and failing to respond to repeated requests for information from the disciplinary counsel. The Board of Professional Responsibility filed a petition for discipline against Hurst, who subsequently submitted a conditional guilty plea. The court determined that Lowe violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4 and 8.4 (a) and ordered him to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

The state Supreme Court issued a public censure on Jan. 14 to Memphis lawyer Tony N. Brayton after he failed to notify clients of two appellate court decisions. Brayton was appointed to represent a client on appeal of a voluntary manslaughter conviction. He also was appointed to represent a client on appeal of a first-degree murder conviction. In both cases, the court upheld the convictions. Because Brayton did not notify the clients of the decisions, the clients did not have time to request permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. Brayton previously had been suspended for failing to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility about these complaints. That suspension was dissolved in September 2008.

On Jan. 16, Knoxville lawyer Randy K. Miller was censured for practicing law while on administrative suspension. His law license had been suspended on Sept. 21, 2007, for failure to comply with continuing legal education requirements. In November 2007, while on suspension, he signed a pleading in a divorce action, which violated Rule 5.5 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Miller filed a request for reinstatement of his license later in November after resolving his CLE issue. He was reinstated on Nov. 26, 2008.

Nashville lawyer Cynthia J. Bohn was publicly censured on Jan. 26 for conduct found to be in violation of Rule 4.4(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Bohn represented the wife in a contested divorce. During depositions and in response to a comment by the husband, Bohn became upset, threatened to terminate the deposition and used an expletive in ordering the husband out of her office. Bohn left the conference room but returned as the husband, his attorney, and the court reporter were leaving. Bohn again used an expletive and threatened to call the sheriff if the group did not leave. The husband's attorney filed the complaint of misconduct.

Wayne T. DeWees of Bolivar was censured on Jan. 26 for failing to advise the Hardeman County Chancery Court of material facts during an ex parte hearing. On April 25, 2005, the court held a hearing on a petition for adoption. Allegedly, DeWees knew about a conservatorship proceeding pending in Shelby County at the time of the hearing. The chancellor presiding over the adoption hearing was not advised of the conservatorship action or that there was any question about the client's competency. The final adoption order was issued on April 25, 2005. In May 2006, the Shelby County probate court found that the client was disabled and appointed a conservator. In November 2008, the Hardeman Chancery Court set aside the adoption order. Soon thereafter, the Supreme Court found that DeWees violated Rule 3.3(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.


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.

Knoxville attorney Nathanael E. Anderson was summarily suspended from the practice of law on Dec. 23, 2008, after pleading guilty to the serious crime of perjury. The court has referred his case to the Board of Professional Responsibility for a formal disciplinary proceeding.

On Jan. 5, the Tennessee Supreme Court suspended the law license of Sumner County attorney Jocelyn D. Mims. The suspension was imposed after Mims pleaded guilty to conspiracy to introduce, and attempted introduction of, contraband into a penal facility. The court also referred her case to the Board of Professional Responsibility for a formal disciplinary proceeding.

The Supreme Court temporarily suspended the law license of Memphis lawyer William Newton on Jan. 12 for failure to respond to a complaint of misconduct. The court's order stipulates that any hearing on modification or dissolution of the suspension will be conducted before a panel of two members of the Board of Professional Responsibility and one hearing committee member from Shelby County.

On Jan. 16, the Tennessee Supreme Court suspended the law license of Nashville attorney Edward L. Swinger for 120 days. The Board of Professional Responsibility had filed a petition for discipline and a supplemental petition for discipline against Swinger alleging neglect, failure to keep clients informed, failure to promptly forward settlement proceeds, and failure to hold a client's funds in a trust account. The board determined that his action violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.2(d), 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.7, 1.15, 3.2 and 8.4. Swinger admitted he violated the rules and agreed to the suspension.

Williamson County lawyer Parrish Stanton was immediately and summarily suspended from the practice of law on Jan. 26 for failing to respond to a complaint of misconduct. Stanton has been on administrative suspension for failure to comply with continuing legal education requirements since August 2008. Both suspensions remain in effect until modified or dissolved by the Supreme Court.


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.

On Jan. 16, the Tennessee Supreme Court issued an order transferring Nashville lawyer Sean K. Hornbeck to disability inactive status for an indefinite period of time. Hornbeck had been temporarily suspended by the court on Dec. 15, 2008. At the time he petitioned the court to transfer his license to disability inactive status, he also asked for dissolution of the temporary suspension. While the court approved the move to disability status, it ordered that the suspension be held in abeyance pending a hearing on any subsequent request for reinstatement to active practice.