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:
Tamara Lynn Trimble, Winter Park, Fla.; and Kellye Lambert Walker, Norwalk, Conn.

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 March 24, Memphis attorney Kathleen L. Caldwell was suspended from the practice of law by the Tennessee Supreme Court for 24 months, with six months to be served on active suspension and 18 months to be served on probation. Caldwell was suspended for failing to supervise a support person in her law office and being unaware of lawsuits, clients and funds generating from her office. While on probation, Caldwell is to report monthly to the Board of Professional Responsibility and a practice monitor approved by the board. The board filed a petition for discipline against Caldwell on March 21, 2005. She submitted a conditional guilty plea, which was accepted and approved by the board and the Tennessee Supreme Court. The court determined that Caldwell's actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1-1.4, 1.15, 3.4, 5.3 and 8.4.

On March 25, the Tennessee Supreme Court temporarily suspended the law license of Knoxville attorney Charles Carter pursuant to Section 4.3 of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9.   The Board of Professional Responsibility had petitioned the court for the temporary suspension because of Carter's failure to respond to a complaint of ethical misconduct.

Memphis lawyer Don A. Handley was suspended by the Tennessee Supreme Court on April 6 for six months; however the court allowed Handley to serve the time on probation so long as he obtains three additional hours of continuing legal education and engages the services of a practice monitor. Handley was disciplined for practicing law while on administrative suspension, failing to properly file a personal injury lawsuit, and failing to candidly advise a client regarding his failure to properly file that lawsuit. The court determined that his actions violated Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 5.5(a) and 8.4. The court also ordered him to pay the expenses and costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

On April 7, the Tennessee Supreme Court suspended Jackson lawyer Ramsdale O'DeNeal for one year after finding he was negligent in handling a criminal case. The Board of Professional Responsibility filed a petition for discipline against O'DeNeal and after a hearing on the matter determined that he failed to (1) notify the court he was being substituted as defense counsel, (2) follow-up on motions filed by the previous counsel, (3) appear for two pre-trial status conferences and (4) produce the client's file when ordered to do so by the court. His failure to appear at the pre-trial status conferences required the court to continue the trial. The Supreme Court found that his actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.15, 1.16, 3.4 and 8.4. The court also ordered him to pay the expenses and costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

On April 17, the Tennessee Supreme Court temporarily suspended the law license of Knoxville lawyer Kenneth Corum pursuant to Section 4.3 of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9. The Board of Professional Responsibility had petitioned the court for the temporary suspension because of Corum's failure to respond to a complaint of ethical misconduct.

Also on April 17, Nashville attorney Reginald Lamont Horton was temporarily suspended from the practice of law for posing a threat of substantial harm to the public. The state Supreme Court imposed the suspension after learning that Horton had offered to provide legal services in exchange for stolen property.

Carthage lawyer Jacquelyn M. Scott was suspended by the Tennessee Supreme Court on April 22 for one year and four months. However, the court made the suspension retroactive to Nov. 8, 2007, the date she was temporarily suspended. At that time, Scott was suspended indefinitely for failing to comply with a Tennessee Lawyer's Assistance Program monitoring agreement. The court made reinstatement conditioned on substantial compliance with the agreement for six months. In April 2009 the court determined that Scott had substantially complied with the agreement for six months. It also ordered her to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

Court of the Judiciary

On April 9, the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary issued a public reprimand to Carter County General Sessions Judge John W. Walton for making "demeaning and disrespectful" statements in open court and in public areas of the clerk's office about employees of that office. The reprimand " signed by Don. R. Ash, presiding judge of the court " states that Walton called staff members "liars" and "dumb" and questioned their competency in public settings. The court found that these actions violated Canons 2 and 3B(4) of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which require judges to act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the judiciary and to be patient, dignified and courteous to individuals encountered in an official capacity. The court's action was based on a complaint filed by one of the offended staff members.                                                 

On April 17, the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary issued a public reprimand to Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Carolyn Wade Blackett for failing to decide a capital case in a timely manner. The court found that a post-conviction petition in the case was filed April 13, 1998, but that Blackett did not decide the case until May 23, 2006 " a lapse of seven years, five months and 21 days. In a letter to Blackett, presiding Court of the Judiciary Judge Don. R. Ash noted that Tenn. Code Ann. Section 40-30-111(d) requires post-conviction petitions to be resolved by trial courts within one year of filing and that the same statute requires a ruling within 60 days of the conclusion of the proof. The court found that her actions violated Canons 2A, 3A, 3B(2) and 3B(8) of the Code of Judicial Conduct, and Tenn. Code Ann. sections 40-30-109(a), 40-30-111(d) and 40-30-121. The letter concluded with the statement that Blackett's conduct in the matter detrimentally affected the integrity of the Tennessee Judiciary and undermined public confidence in the administration of justice.