Disciplinary Actions

Censured

On April 28, Clarksville lawyer Joseph Weyant was publicly censured by the Board of Professional Responsibility for failing to act with competence and exercise independent professional judgment. Weyant agreed to handle a client's business while the client deployed overseas with the military. This included handling the client's real estate holdings. On the advice of an individual who previously handled transactions for the client, Weyant entered into a proposed lucrative real estate deal on the client's behalf. However, he failed to verify the circumstances surrounding the transaction, which turned out to be a fraud. In the client's absence, Weyant also entered into a loan agreement that was adverse to the client's interests and did so without the client's express consent. The board found that Weyant's conduct " which violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.2, 1.4, 1.7, 1.8(f) and 2.1. " caused substantial monetary loss to the client and resulted in the filing of civil litigation against the client.

Nashville attorney Connie Allison was publicly censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court on June 25 for failing to preserve the confidences of a client while terminating representation of that client. Allison reportedly terminated representation because of a conflict of interest. The court determined that her actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct: 1.2, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8, 1.16, 2.2, 3.3(j) and 8.4. Allison submitted a conditional guilty plea. In addition to the censure, the court ordered her to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

On June 21, James W. Hodges of Memphis was publicly censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court for failing to diligently represent and communicate with a client. The court determined that his actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4 and 8.4. He submitted a conditional guilty plea. In addition to the censure, the court ordered him to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.
  

Disbarred

Clinton attorney Debra Fannin Graham was disbarred by the Tennessee Supreme Court on June 16. In addition, the court ordered her to pay restitution of all unearned fees to six clients and pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding. The Board of Professional Responsibility filed a petition for discipline and two supplemental petitions against Graham. At a hearing, which she did not attend, a hearing panel of the board determined that Graham neglected client cases, charged excessive fees and made misrepresentations to the board and to her clients. The Supreme Court approved the board's recommendation for disbarment, determining that her actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.16 and 8.4.

On June 17, former Covington lawyer Richard D. Cartwright was disbarred by the state Supreme Court. At the time of his disbarment, Cartwright was serving a three-year suspension for failing to comply with the Tennessee Lawyer's Assistance Program, and an administrative suspension for failing to comply with continuing legal education requirements. He also had abandoned his law practice but had not informed the Board of Professional Responsibility or his clients. Cartwright's clients began filing complaints with the board about his failure to inform them of the suspensions, return their property and legal fees, communicate with them and act with diligence. On June 9, 2009, the board filed a petition of discipline containing 33 complaints of misconduct. A supplemental petition containing four complaints was filed on Aug. 12, 2009. Cartwright did not respond to either petition. In reviewing the case, the court determined that Cartwright violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.16, 3.2, 8.1 and 8.4. It disbarred him and ordered him to pay restitution to 36 former clients and pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.