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: James M. Allen, Memphis; William Lawley Baggett Jr., Atlanta, Ga.; H. Scott Bates, Orlando, Fla.; Timothy M. Davis, Fairfield, Conn.; Victoria Leora DiBonaventura, Buchanan; Harlington Leroy Hanna Jr., Loxahatchee, Fla.; E.H. Mechem, McDonough, Ga.; Cynthia Marrone, Guilford, Conn.; James M. Moore Jr., Knoxville; Teresa Annette Scott, Bowie, Md.; Lauren Douglas Shelton, Memphis; and Mark Thomas Wade, Oakmont, Pa.

The following attorneys have 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: Jonathan Graham Carver, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Timothy M. Davis, Fairfield, Conn.; Donald Sutherland Holm III, Germantown; LaKenya R. Middlebrook, Knoxville; and Kenneth Ray Russell Jr., Abingdon, Va.

Nashville attorney G. Thomas Nebel was reinstated to the practice of law on Nov. 21 after responding to a complaint of misconduct. He had been suspended temporarily on Sept. 25 for failing to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility.

Censured

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

On Nov. 27, the Board of Professional Responsibility issued a public censure to Knoxville lawyer John T. Sholly for his failure to respond to court orders directing him to file a brief and appear before the court. The action stemmed from two complaints. The first accused Sholly of neglecting a number of cases and not maintaining basic accounting standards for attorney trust accounts. The second complaint came from a client who paid Sholly $5,000 to represent him in a DUI case. The client terminated Sholly's employment and filed a fee dispute to get his money back. The fee dispute committee required Sholly to reimburse the client $1,500, but to date he has not complied. For these infractions, the board found that he violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.5 and 1.15. Sholly was notified of the censure but did not request a hearing.

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 state Supreme Court temporarily suspended John Louis Dolan Jr., of Olive Branch, Miss., on Nov. 21 for failure to respond to a complaint of misconduct. The suspension remains in effect until dissolved or amended by the court.

Damon Jarrid Lee was suspended from the practice of law on Nov. 21 after being convicted of two forgery charges in Bradley County Criminal Court. On Sept. 26, Lee was found guilty of forgery under $1,000 and forgery under $10,000 and under $60,000 " felonies in violation of Tenn. Code Ann. 39-14-114. In addition to imposing the suspension, the Supreme Court ordered that a formal disciplinary proceeding be instituted to determine the extent of final discipline. Lee will remain suspended pending resolution of that formal proceeding. According to new reports, Lee now lives in California.

The Tennessee Supreme Court on Nov. 21 placed Louisiana lawyer Scott Eason Meece on interim suspension, based on a similar suspension ordered by the Supreme Court of Louisiana on May 9. The suspension remains in effect until dissolved or amended 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.

On Dec. 13, the Supreme Court of Tennessee disbarred former Kingston attorney and Roane County General Sessions Judge Thomas Alva Austin following his conviction on three counts of extortion. In March 2006, Austin pleaded guilty to soliciting roughly $14,000 in kickbacks from driving schools where he sent offenders and a probation office where he ordered offenders to report. He resigned his position effective March 31. He was sentenced to 42 months in prison on Sept. 7, 2006. On Oct. 6, 2006, the court suspended Austin and ordered a formal disciplinary proceeding be undertaken to determine the extent of final punishment. The result of that process was a recommendation of disbarment by the Board of Professional Responsibility. On Oct. 29, 2007, Austin consented to the disbarment.

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.

Knox County attorney David Britton Brand took disability inactive status on Dec. 10 as a result of an illness. He requested the transfer and the Board of Professional Responsibility did not object. Brand may not practice law again until his license is reinstated by the state Supreme Court following a reinstatement hearing.