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Licensure & Discipline
The law license of Hamilton County lawyer Jeffrey A. Stinnett was transferred to disability inactive status on March 1 pursuant to Section 21 of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9. Stinnett may not practice law while on inactive status, but he may petition the court for reinstatement by providing clear and convincing evidence that the disability has been removed and he is fit to resume the practice of law.
Georgia attorney John Michael Giglio, also licensed to practice law in Tennessee, received a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility on Feb. 26 for informing a client that he would charge a 15-percent contingency fee, but then failed to provide a written contract documenting the terms of the fee agreement. The client contested the reasonableness of the $70,000 fee before the Probate Court, which found a reasonable fee would have been $20,000. Giglio was ordered to refund $50,000 plus the cost of the fee proceeding. His actions were determined to violate Rules of Professional Conduct 1.5(a), 1.5(c) and 1.5(e).
Colorado lawyer Philip M. Kleinsmith, also licensed to practice law in Tennessee, received a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility on March 4. The censure was imposed as reciprocal discipline after Kleinsmith was reprimanded and placed on probation for one year in Arizona. However, because he was living in Colorado at the time, the Arizona Supreme Court made early termination of the probation possible if Kleinsmith completed an ethics program from the Colorado Supreme Court. The court has reported that Kleinsmith successfully completed the program and the probation has been removed.
The Tennessee Supreme Court suspended the law license of Memphis lawyer David J. Johnson on Feb. 15 based on his conviction for wire fraud, a violation of United States Code § 1343. The court also ordered the Board of Professional Responsibility to institute a formal proceeding to determine the extent of final discipline to be imposed. The court mandated that the suspension remain in effect until it is dissolved or amended.
BOARD OF JUDICIAL CONDUCT
Polk County General Sessions Judge Billy D. Baliles received a public reprimand from the Board of Judicial Conduct on Feb. 13. A complaint filed against Baliles alleged, and the subsequent investigation confirmed, that Baliles issued an order altering child custody arrangements without engaging in the proper procedural elements of a petition or a hearing. The board found that the order issued by Baliles also lacked sufficient findings and details. Finally, it found that the judge engaged in a telephone conversation with the child’s grandfather that was an impermissible ex parte contact. The board determined that these actions violated Canon 1, Canon 2A and Canon 3B(7) of the Canons of Judicial Contact. However, it noted that Baliles promptly responded to the complaint, fully cooperated with the investigation and had no prior complaints filed against him.
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.