Licensure & Discipline

Administrative Suspensions Now Online

Notice of attorneys suspended for, and reinstated from, administrative violations — including failure to pay the Board of Professional Responsibility fee, file the IOLTA report, comply with continuing legal education requirements and pay the Tennessee professional privilege tax — is now available exclusively on the TBA website. Visit http://www.tba.org/directory-listing/administrative-suspension-lists to see administrative suspensions imposed since 2006.

REINSTATED

Clarksville lawyer Cleveland C. Turner was reinstated to the practice of law on Jan. 11. He had been on disability inactive status since Jan. 14, 1997. Upon his application for reinstatement, the Board of Professional Responsibility set three conditions for his return to the practice of law: that he pay all costs of the disciplinary proceeding, remain in compliance with his Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program agreement and resolve any pending disciplinary complaints. The board reports that Turner has met all conditions for reinstatement.

DISCIPLINARY

Censured
Davidson County lawyer Quenton White received a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility on Jan. 15. The board found that for more than a month White practiced law while his license was administratively suspended for IOLTA noncompliance and failure to pay the annual registration fee. The board determined that his actions violated Rule of Professional Conduct 5.5.

Davidson County attorney Mark Edward Chapman received a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility on Jan. 17 for instructing a paralegal to attend a mediation with a client at which the opposing party was represented by counsel. The board determined that the paralegal engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by signing his name on a mediation agreement filed with the courts, negotiating with opposing counsel and mediators without clients present, and agreeing to resolve issues on behalf of the client. The board stated that Chapman was responsible for supervision of the paralegal, and that he failed to provide diligent representation to his client. His actions were determined to violate Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3 and 5.3.

On Jan. 17, Sumner County lawyer William Norman Ligon received a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility for providing legal advice to a client while his law license was suspended. The board found that the client, who believed Ligon was representing him for more than two months, suffered potential harm by relying on Ligon’s advice and not seeking representation by a licensed attorney. The board found that Ligon’s actions violated Rule of Professional Conduct 5.5.

Cleveland attorney John Allen Murphy Jr. was publicly censured on Jan. 22 for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. Murphy was administratively suspended in June 2011 for failing to comply with mandatory IOLTA reporting requirements. However, during the same time, he filed pleadings on behalf of several clients. He was reinstated to the practice of law on July 25, 2011. In imposing the censure, the Board of Professional Responsibility determined that he violated Rule of Professional Conduct 5.5(a).

On Jan. 24, Shelby County lawyer Paul Forrest Craig received a public censure from the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility for practicing law in Mississippi without a license. The board determined that his actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 5.5 and 8.5.

Johnny Von Dunaway of LaFollette was censured by the Board of Professional Responsibility on Jan. 25 for charging and receiving a contingent fee for handling an appeal of a domestic relations case. Von Dunaway submitted a conditional guilty plea acknowledging a violation of Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct 1.5(c) and (d), which prohibit certain contingency fees in domestic relations cases.

Suspended
The Tennessee Supreme Court summarily and temporarily suspended Knoxville lawyer Robert Lawson Cheek Jr. on Dec. 28, 2012, after finding that he misappropriated funds for his own use and abandoned his law practice. The court also determined that he posed a threat of substantial harm to the public. The action was taken pursuant to Section 4.3 of Supreme Court Rule 9. The suspension remains in effect until dissolution or modification by the court.

On Jan. 18, Jerry Alan Kennon of Nashville was suspended from the practice of law for 18 months, with 30 days to be served on active suspension and the remainder on probation. Kennon also was ordered to make restitution to former clients, engage a practice monitor during the probationary period, comply with his Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program contract and pay the Board of Professional Responsibility’s expenses. Kennon was suspended for representing clients and filing pleadings while on administrative suspension for failing to meet continuing legal education requirements. The board also noted that it received complaints that Kennon failed to properly prepare trust documents, file a lawsuit on time and return client documents. His actions were determined to violate Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5 (a) and (c), 1.16 (d), 5.5 (a) and 8.4(a), (d) and (g).

Knoxville lawyer Vanessa Lynn Lemons was suspended on Jan. 25 for four years, and indefinitely thereafter until she provides proof of restitution to former clients, evaluation by the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP) and compliance with any TLAP monitoring agreement. The Tennessee Supreme Court found that Lemons failed to communicate with five clients, neglected their legal matters and failed to properly terminate representation. In those cases where she accepted a fee and failed to perform services, the court also found she refused to refund retainers. Finally, Lemons misrepresented to one client that she had paid required court costs. When confronted with these allegations, Lemons failed to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility. The court determined that her actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.16, 8.1 and 8.4.   
    
Jackson lawyer Angela Joy Hopson was suspended from the practice of law on Jan. 30 for one year; however, the entire suspension was probated subject to the following conditions: Hopson must engage a practice monitor during the probation, comply with the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program and pay the Board of Professional Responsibility’s expenses within 90 days. The suspension was imposed after the Court of Criminal Appeals found Hopson in contempt for failure to timely file a brief and follow prior orders regarding the filing of a status report. The board also found that she failed to properly communicate with a client who was a defendant in a post-conviction trial and appeal. Her actions were determined to violate Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 3.2, 8.1 (b) and 8.4 (a), (b) and (d).

The Tennessee Supreme Court on Feb. 4 suspended Memphis lawyer Michael R. Tucker for five years and ordered him to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding as well as $66,667.67 in restitution. The court found that Tucker failed to disburse settlement funds to a client, converted funds to personal use, made misrepresentations to the client about repayment of the money, and failed to communicate with the client in a reasonable manner. Tucker entered a conditional guilty plea. The court determined that his actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.4 (a), 1.15, 4.1 (a) and 8.4 (a), (c) and (d).


Compiled by Stacey Shrader Joslin from information provided by the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Tennessee Supreme Court. Licensure and disciplinary notices are included in this publication as a member service. The official record of an attorney’s status is maintained by the board. Current information about a particular attorney may be found on the board’s website at www.tbpr.org/consumers/attorneysearch.