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:
Mavanee Anderson, Kensington, Md.; Johnathan Kenneth Borsodi, Knoxville; Richard Lee Burnette, Johnson City; Halbert Edwin Dockins Jr., Jackson, Miss.; Lisa Belle Hatfield, Knoxville; Andre Philip Johnson, Nashville; Micah Shannon Littleton, Lenior City; Clay Spencer Nails, Corinth, Miss.; Kristy Georgette Offitt, Atlanta, Ga.; Charles Edwin Reed, Nashville; David Edward Roland, Saint Louis, Mo.; Don Michael Roman, Stone Mountain, Ga.; Walter Francis Williams, Chattanooga.

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 to the Board of Professional Responsibility and Supreme Court Rule 43, which requires certification that client funds are held in an account participating in the Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program:
Harold Henry Davis, San Francisco, Calif.; Irvin Hugh Kilcrease Jr., Nashville; David G. Mullins, Bristol; Richard J. Rice, Maryville.

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 to the Board of Professional Responsibility:
Lynn Todd Edgerton, Nashville; Shelli L. Neal, Saipain, Northern Mariana Islands.

Two suspensions — failure to pay his annual registration and certify that client funds are held in an account participating in the Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program — imposed on Richard Hugh Branson of League City, Texas, were vacated on Sept. 27 based on evidence of his death prior to the effective date of the suspensions.


Censured

Shelby County attorney John Edward Dunlap was publicly censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Oct. 13. Dunlap, through counsel, submitted a conditional guilty plea acknowledging violations of Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4, 3.2, 8.1 and 8.4.

Shelby County attorney Venita M. Martin was publicly censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Oct. 13. Martin, through counsel, submitted a conditional guilty plea acknowledging violations of Rules of Professional Conduct 1.7, 3.4 and 8.4.

On Oct. 25, Knox County lawyer Hillary Ellen Dewhirst received a public censure from the Tennessee Supreme Court for billing the Administrative Office of the Courts for a non-lawyer assistant who helped her in her role as a guardian ad litem for the Knox County Juvenile Court. Dewhirst self-reported the mistake after learning that Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 13 does not permit compensation for a non-lawyer assistant. She immediately discontinued the practice and agreed to make full restitution for the overpayment. The court found that her actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 8.4(a), (c) and (d).

Madison County lawyer Angela LaShandra Jenkins-Hines received a public censure from the Tennessee Supreme Court on Oct. 25 after the court found she deposited personal funds in her trust account and used those funds to pay personal and business expenses. However, the court found that the trust account contained only Jenkins-Hines’ own funds. Her actions were determined to violate Rule 1.15 of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Shelby County attorney Mimi Phillips was censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Oct. 25 after the court found she failed to disclose a client’s child support arrearage and her own disciplinary history. In representing a client in a child support matter, Phillips stated to the court that her client always paid his child support, without disclosing a substantial arrearage — a violation of Rule 3.3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Phillips also misrepresented to the court her own disciplinary history, a violation of Rules of Professional Conduct 3.3 and 8.4(c).

On Oct. 25, Davidson County lawyer Ivan Omar Lopez received a public censure from the Tennessee Supreme Court. The court found that he allowed clients to pay filing fees into his business account and later transferred the money to his trust account. This co-mingling of funds violated Rule of Professional Conduct 1.15. The court did note, however, that no client funds were adversely affected.


Suspended

On Oct. 10, the Tennessee Supreme Court summarily and temporarily suspended Lake County lawyer Guy S. Davis after finding he was in substantial noncompliance with his Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program monitoring agreement.

On Oct. 10, Memphis lawyer Timothy Darnell Flowers was suspended for five years for failure to communicate with clients and exercise reasonable diligence, including missing filing deadlines in two cases. However, in imposing the suspension, the Supreme Court allowed Flowers to serve two of the years on probation so long as he engages a practice monitor. The court also ordered that the suspension should run concurrently with previous suspensions imposed, and that Flowers must pay restitution in the amount of $16,500 to six former clients.The court found that his actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4, 1.5(a), 1.16, 3.2, 3.4(c) and 8.4(a) and (d).

On Oct. 10, Shelby County lawyer Donald Sutherland Holm III was suspended for six months for practicing law while his license was suspended. The state Supreme Court found that he practiced law from August 2007 until Nov. 24, 2010, during which time his license was on administrative suspension. Holm submitted a conditional guilty plea, which was approved by the court. His actions were found to have violated Rules of Professional Conduct 5.5(a) and 8.4(a), (c) and (d).

On Oct. 10, the Supreme Court summarily and temporarily suspended Nashville lawyer Dana L. Nero from the practice of law after finding she was in substantial noncompliance with her Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program monitoring agreement. The suspension remains in effect until dissolution or modification by the court. Nero may request dissolution or modification.

On Oct. 21, the Tennessee Supreme Court entered an order imposing a five-year suspension on Shelby County lawyer Darren J. Scoggins. The suspension will take effect immediately upon Scoggins’ release from prison. The court directed him to notify it immediately upon his release.


Disbarred

On Oct. 12, the Tennessee Supreme Court ordered the disbarment of former Knoxville judge Richard R. Baumgartner. Through counsel, Baumgartner delivered to the Board of Professional Responsibility an affidavit consenting to disbarment, acknowledging he could not successfully defend himself against a petition for final discipline. Baumgartner had been suspended on March 22 based on his guilty plea to the serious crime of official misconduct. Also on that date, the court directed the board to conduct a formal proceeding to determine the extent of final discipline to be imposed as a result of the conviction. The court agreed with the board’s recommendation for disbarment.

Perry County lawyer Bobby A. McGee was disbarred by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Oct. 25 after he was convicted of two counts of using interstate commerce to induce a minor to engage in sexual activity and knowingly possessing 185 electronic images of child pornography. His actions were found to have violated Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4. The court also noted that McGee is under suspension for failure to pay registration fees and failure to comply with continuing legal education requirements.

Memphis lawyer Mark D. Talley was disbarred by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Oct. 26 after he was indicted on four violations of the Tennessee Securities Act and multiple charges of conspiracy to commit property theft, including six counts of theft over $60,000, two counts of theft over $10,000 and one count of theft over $1,000. Talley pled guilty to the Securities Act charges but appealed the other charges to the Shelby County Chancery Court. That court ordered that the hearing panel’s ruling be vacated and remanded. A second hearing panel examined the case and re-affirmed that Talley should be disbarred. Another appeal to the chancery court resulted in a ruling upholding the findings of the second hearing panel. Talley then appealed the discipline to the Supreme Court, which upheld the imposition of disbarment.

On Nov. 2, Weakley County attorney Harry Max Speight was disbarred by the Tennessee Supreme Court after being convicted of conspiracy to make false statements and defraud the government in violation of 15 U.S.C. Section 714m(a & d), and aiding and abetting an offense against the United States in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 2. The court found that his actions violated Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4. The court also noted that Speight is currently suspended for noncompliance with continuing legal education requirements.


Disability Inactive

On Oct. 21, the Supreme Court of Tennessee issued an order removing Nashville lawyer Sean K. Hornbeck from disability inactive status. However, outstanding disciplinary proceedings must be resolved prior to his reinstatement. Hornbeck remains on temporary suspension based on an order imposed in Dec. 2008.

The Tennessee Supreme Court entered an order Nov. 1 transferring the law license of Williamson County lawyer Thomas Henry Ware to disability inactive status indefinitely and until further order. Ware cannot practice law while on disability inactive status. He may petition the court for return to the practice of law and be reinstated on showing by clear and convincing evidence that the disability has been removed and he is fit to resume the practice of law.