Licensure & Dicipline

DISABILITY INACTIVE

The law license of the following lawyers were transferred to disability inactive status: Davidson County lawyer Patrick Brocklin Parks, on Oct. 4; and Hamilton County lawyer William Lloyd Stanley Jr., on Oct. 16. They may not practice law while on inactive status but may petition the court for reinstatement by showing by clear and convincing evidence that the disability has been removed and they are fit to resume the practice of law.

REINSTATED

Shelby County lawyer Clay M. McCormack was reinstated to the practice of law on Oct. 29 subject to certain conditions, including the requirement that he engage a practice monitor. McCormack was suspended by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Oct. 5, 2018, for five years, with one year to be served on active suspension and the remaining four years to be served on probation. McCormack filed a petition for reinstatement, which the Board of Professional Responsibility reported it found to be satisfactory.

Knox County lawyer Kristal Lyn Muse was reinstated to the practice of law on Sept. 30. Muse had been placed on inactive status on Dec. 28, 2012. She filed a petition for reinstatement, which the Board of Professional Responsibility
reported it found satisfactory.

Mississippi lawyer Christine Bocek Whitman was reinstated to the practice of law on Oct. 4. She was placed on inactive status on May 19, 2014. Whitman filed a petition for reinstatement, which the Board of Professional Responsibility reported it found satisfactory.

REINSTATEMENT PETITION DISMISSED

Texas lawyer Arienne Brint Lebow filed a petition for reinstatement on June 7. The Tennessee Supreme Court responded that the petition would not be acted on until outstanding CLE obligations were resolved. On Sept. 27, the court sent a second letter informing Lebow that if outstanding CLE obligations were not resolved by Oct. 28 his petition would be dismissed. As of Oct. 28, Lebow had not complied with CLE obligations. Therefore, the petition was dismissed.

The Tennessee Supreme Court on Oct. 17 denied motions from Davidson County lawyer Brian Phillip Manookian, who had sought to have his suspension from the practice of law dissolved. The court on Oct.11 had reinstated a suspension against Manookian for violations of conditions imposed on May 17 as part of an agreement to lift his suspension and place him on probation instead. That same day, Manookian filed a petition for dissolution of the suspension. On Oct. 15, he filed another petition arguing that he did not meet the qualifications for suspension. After reviewing both petitions, the Board of Professional Responsibility determined that Manookian had failed to establish good cause for dissolution or modification of the suspension.

SUSPENSION DISSOLVED

On Sept. 19, the Tennessee Supreme Court dissolved a suspension that had been imposed on Davidson County lawyer M. Andrew Holland on March 9, 2018, for failure to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility. On July 10, 2018, the disciplinary complaint was resolved, negating the need to continue the suspension. The court’s action was made retroactive to July 10, 2018. Holland, however, was not reinstated and remains suspended based on disciplinary action taken on Sept. 7, 2010. An entry in the November 2019 issue of the Tennessee Bar Journal indicated incorrectly that he had been reinstated.

Suspended

The Tennessee Supreme Court on Oct. 8 suspended Williamson County lawyer Matthew David Dunn for five years, with three years to be served on active suspension and two years to be served on probation. The court conditioned the probation on Dunn engaging a practice monitor, obtaining 10 additional hours of CLE and being evaluated by TLAP for a monitoring agreement. The court took the action after finding that Dunn failed to diligently respond to discovery requests and motions; comply with discovery obligations; appear for scheduled court hearings; halt the dismissal of his client’s case; and promptly inform his client of the dismissal. The court also found that he intentionally took advantage of his relationship with the client to pressure her to settle her claim and withdraw a disciplinary complaint. These actions were determined to violate Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4, 1.8(h)(2), 3.2, 3.4(c) and (d), 8.1(a) and 8.4(a), (c) and (d).

On Oct. 29, the Supreme Court of Tennessee suspended Knox County lawyer Wendell Kyle Hall for two years, with 60 days to be served on active suspension and the remainder to be served on probation. The court also directed Hall to engage a practice monitor and a certified public accountant, open a new IOLTA account and obtain 15 hours of CLE on law office management and trust accounting procedures. The court found that Hall deposited funds from a settlement into his trust account, converted those funds to pay for personal expenses, and failed to promptly notify a third party that he had received the funds. In a separate case, the court found Hall failed to serve a defendant, failed to properly dismiss the case, refiled the case improperly, and did not consult with his client regarding a motion to dismiss. He also was found to have filed a notice of appeal without advising his client, failed to comply with appellate procedures, failed to respond to a show cause order, and caused the appeal to be dismissed. Finally, the court found Hall failed to inform his clients that their lawsuit had been dismissed in the trial court and on appeal. His conduct was determined to violate Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2, 1.4, 1.15 and 8.4.

The Tennessee Supreme Court on Oct. 11 reinstated a suspension against Davidson County lawyer Brian Phillip Manookian that it had dissolved in May pursuant to certain conditions. The court determined that Manookian violated those conditions when he (1) sent an email to the client of opposing counsel to intimidate the client and undermine the relationship with his lawyer, and (2) sent opposing counsel an email containing a photograph of his wife and home, causing opposing counsel to fear for his family’s safety. The court rejected the explanations Manookian provided for these incidents, noting that he has been disciplined previously for sending threatening and coercive emails regarding the families of opposing counsel.

The Tennessee Supreme Court on Oct. 14 suspended Shelby County lawyer Gail Ostby Mathes for two years, with six months to be served on active suspension and 18 months to be served on probation. The court conditioned probation on payment of restitution to three former clients, continued compliance with a TLAP contract and engaging a practice monitor. The court considered multiple complaints against Mathes. She acknowledged failing to (1) properly supervise a legal assistant in her office, (2) communicate with several clients, (3) refund unearned retainers, (4) provide diligent legal services, (5) provide documentation of her IOLTA account after an overdraft and (6) respond to disciplinary complaints. Her actions were determined to violate Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.15(d), 1.6(a) and (d), 5.3(a), (b) and (c), 8.1(a) and (b), and 8.4(a), (c), (d) and (g).

The Tennessee Supreme Court suspended Wendell J. O’Reilly on Oct. 17 after finding that he failed to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility. He is immediately precluded from accepting any new cases.

Bedford County lawyer Christopher Paul Westmoreland was suspended on Oct. 16 for nine months, with one month to be served on active suspension and the remainder to be served on probation. The Tennessee Supreme Court conditioned the probation on Westmoreland engaging a practice monitor. The court found that while representing a client injured in an accident, Westmoreland filed the complaint after the statute of limitations had expired, resulting in dismissal of the case. In addition, while representing a client appealing a general sessions judgment to circuit court, the Supreme Court found that Westmoreland failed to appear at mediation and trial, and failed to notify his client of the date, time and location of the trial. Westmoreland admitted to violating Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 3.4(c) and 8.4(a) and (d).

Censured

Shelby County lawyer William Allan Cohn was censured on Oct. 22 after the Tennessee Supreme Court found that he mishandled a nonrefundable fee and cost deposit paid by a client for representation in an uncontested divorce. After completing the necessary pleadings, the client’s wife refused to sign the documents and Cohn was terminated by the client. Cohn believed that the fee agreement entitled him to additional fees so he used the cost deposit to cover those fees. The court found that no costs had been incurred during the course of the representation so the cost deposit should have remained in Cohn’s IOLTA account until refunded to the client. His actions were determined to violate Rules of Professional Conduct 1.15(c) and 8.4(a). The court also directed him to pay restitution to his client.

Shelby County lawyer Jahari Mabry Dowdy was censured on Oct. 4. The Tennessee Supreme Court approved the action after Dowdy failed to transfer funds into escrow while representing a client in a guardianship case. The board also reports that Dowdy did not respond to subsequent inquiries and directives from the court and the clerk and master, and failed to maintain good communication with the client. These actions were determined to violate Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4(a), 3.2, 3.4(c) and 8.4(g).

Shelby County lawyer Don Anthony Handley was censured on Oct. 10 based on two complaints. The Tennessee Supreme Court found that in the first complaint, Handley failed to timely file suit for a personal injury client. In the second complaint, the court found that he delayed transferring settlement funds from a trust account to a medical provider claiming a subrogation interest. In both complaints, Handley also failed to maintain good communication with his clients. His actions were determined to violate Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.15 and 1.16(d).

On Oct. 4, Davidson County lawyer James Broderick Johnson was censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court with the condition that he pay fees owed to the board. The board took the action after determining that Johnson made a misrepresentation during a hearing, though he later corrected the statement. Johnson acknowledged that he violated Rules of Professional Conduct 3.3(a)(1) and 8.4(c).

Administrative Suspensions

Notice of attorneys suspended for, and reinstated from, administrative violations – including failure to pay the Board of Professional Responsibility licensing and inactive fees, file the required IOLTA report, comply with continuing legal education requirements, and pay the Tennessee professional privilege tax – is on the TBA website at www.tba.org/directory-listing/administrative-suspension-lists.

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