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: Bruce Dwain Atherton, Louisville, Ky.; Robert Natole Farinacci, Concord, Ohio.

The following attorneys have complied with Section 20 of Supreme Court Rule 9, which requires the payment of annual registration fees, but remain suspended for noncompliance with continuing legal education requirements: Jewel Guy Boozer, Whiteville, Tenn.; Matthew Anthony Vegas, Millbrook, Ala.

Censured

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

On Nov. 18, 2008, Timothy John Wibking of Franklin was publicly censured by the Board of Professional Responsibility after being charged with a misdemeanor. Wibking successfully completed the terms of pre-trial diversion and the charge ultimately was expunged. However, the board determined that he violated Rule 8.4(b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct by engaging in conduct that reflected adversely on a lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness and fitness to practice law.

On Dec. 9, 2008, Columbia lawyer Darren T. Cole received a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility for violations involving, among other things, threatening a judge. On Sept. 27, 2007, General Sessions Judge James Y. Ross Sr. signed a writ of possession brought by a bank against a client of Cole's and signed an arrest warrant for the client. A few days later, Cole called Judge Ross's office and spoke to his secretary. According to the secretary, Cole said Ross must recuse himself immediately and order return of the property taken pursuant to the writ or else he, Cole, would file an ethics complaint and lawsuit against the judge. This call was made without the presence of or notice to opposing counsel. Meanwhile, Cole commenced negotiations with the opposing attorney and offered to settle the case. He specifically stated in his settlement offer that his client would not file a disciplinary complaint against Judge Ross if opposing client agreed to the offer. The board determined that these actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 3.1, 3.3, 3.4, and 3.5 as well as Rule 8 of the Rules of the Supreme Court.

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 Nov. 25, 2008, the Tennessee Supreme Court suspended Covington lawyer Richard D. Cartwright for three years but allowed the final two years to be served under probation. In representing several clients, Cartwright committed a series of ethical violations including failing to respond to requests, file timely pleadings or appear in court; mailing incorrect paperwork to opposing counsel; losing a client's money order; and failing to complete an adoption by the agreed date. In response, the board filed two petitions for discipline stating that Cartwright violated Disciplinary Rules 1-102, 5-101, 6-101, 7-101-102, and 9-102, and Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4, 1.7, 1.15, 3.1, 3.4, 4.4, 5.1 and 8.4. Cartwright entered a conditional guilty plea. In addition to imposing the suspension and probation, the court ordered Cartwright to pay restitution to three complainants and remain in compliance with his Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program contract for three years.

Wilson County lawyer Gary Wayne Vandever was suspended from the practice of law on Dec. 1, 2008, after the state Supreme Court determined that he failed to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility regarding a complaint of misconduct. The suspension remains in effect until dissolution or modification by the court.

On Dec. 15, 2008, the Supreme Court of Tennessee issued an order immediately and temporarily suspending Nashville lawyer Sean K. Hornbeck from the practice of law upon finding that he posed a threat of substantial harm to the public. The suspension remains in effect until dissolution or modification by the court.

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.

Timothy R. Balducci of New Albany, Miss., was disbarred by order of the Tennessee Supreme Court on Dec. 1, 2008, after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to bribe an elected state official. Following the plea, the Board of Professional Responsibility filed a petition for discipline stating that Balducci's actions violated Rule 8.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Balducci did not respond to the petition. In addition to approving the disbarment, the court ordered Balducci to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

On Dec. 12, 2008, the Supreme Court of Tennessee disbarred Richard K. Cameron of Hopkinsville, Ky., following disbarment by the Supreme Court of Kentucky. That action was taken based on a number of complaints that alleged, among other things, that Cameron misappropriated funds from a conservatorship, double-charged fees to a client, and failed to competently and diligently represent his clients. In addition to imposing disbarment, the court ordered Cameron to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding and made full compliance with the Kentucky court order a condition for reinstatement in Tennessee.

On Dec. 12, 2008, Glenn Erikson of Tampa, Fla., was disbarred by the state Supreme Court after pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud affecting a financial institution " a violation of federal law. The Board of Professional Responsibility filed a petition for discipline and Erikson participated in a hearing by telephone on Aug. 12, 2008. He did not object to the allegations raised in the petition or the discipline requested. The court determined that Erikson's actions violated Rule 8.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct and ordered him to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.