Disciplinary Actions

Reinstated

Paul F. McQuade of Washington, D.C. was reinstated to the practice of law after complying with Supreme Court Rule 21, which requires mandatory continuing legal education. He was suspended on Aug. 27, 2008.

Censured

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

Nashville lawyer Joseph Beecham received a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility on Jan. 27 after he was found to have engaged in the practice of law while on administrative suspension. Beecham's law license was suspended on Aug. 29, 2007, for nonpayment of annual fees to the board, and again on Sept. 4, 2007, for noncompliance with continuing legal education requirements. Though he was not fully reinstated until Oct. 8, 2008, he filed suits in Davidson County General Sessions Court on behalf of a client in July and August of that year. The board determined that his conduct violated Rule 5.5 of the Rules of Professional Responsibility and rules of the Supreme Court of Tennessee. Beecham did not request a hearing on the matter.

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.

The Tennessee Supreme Court on Jan. 29 temporarily suspended Chattanooga lawyer Jeffrey Stinnett from the practice of law after finding that he failed to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility concerning complaints of misconduct. Section 4.3 of Supreme Court Rule 9 provides for the immediate summary suspension when an attorney fails to respond to the board regarding a complaint.

On Feb. 2, the Supreme Court of Tennessee temporarily suspended Knoxville lawyer Aubrey Lewis Davis after finding he failed to substantially comply with his Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program monitoring agreement. The suspension took effect immediately upon issuance.

Ross Allen Barton of Hendersonville was suspended by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Feb. 9 for 29 months after being charged with burglary, misdemeanor theft and prescription fraud. However, the court ordered that after the first five months of suspension, Barton could serve the remaining 24 months on probation so long as he completes 10 hours of pro bono service and complies with the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program. The court stipulated though, that failure to comply with the terms of probation could result in revocation of the probation and imposition of license suspension for the remainder of the period. The Board of Professional Responsibility began disciplinary proceedings against Barton in October 2007 after he was arrested for burglary, misdemeanor theft and prescription fraud. The criminal charges were resolved by a Memorandum of Understanding placing Barton on diversion for a period of two years. The court determined that Barton's actions violated Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4, imposed the suspension and ordered him to pay the costs of the disciplinary hearing. Barton entered a conditional guilty plea and accepted the suspension.

On Feb. 9, the state Supreme Court suspended Nashville attorney Robert J. Turner for one year but allowed him to serve the time on probation subject to conditions. Turner entered a conditional guilty plea to four complaints of misconduct, including failure to deliver documents to a client, communicate with clients, respond in a timely manner to discovery requests, raise a critical defense and conduct himself in a professional manner. The court found that his actions violated Disciplinary Rules 1-102, 2-110, 6-101, 7-101 and 9-102 and Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.15, 1.16, 3.2, 4.1, 4.2, 4.4, 8.1 and 8.4. To be eligible for probation Turner must engage a practice monitor to review and monitor his office on a monthly basis. The practice monitor is to focus on client communications, fee agreements and the timeliness of case related tasks. Failure to comply with the terms of probation may result in revocation of probation and imposition of suspension for the remainder of the period. The court also ordered Turner to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceedings.

On Feb. 18, the Supreme Court lifted the seal on a Nov. 13, 2007, order suspending Knoxville lawyer Thomas F. DiLustro for 30 days for violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct. In the order, the court also mandated that DiLustro comply with a two-year monitoring agreement with the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program. DiLustro entered a conditional guilty plea that was accepted by the court.