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Licensure & Discipline
The Tennessee Supreme Court reinstated the law license of James A. Meaney III of Ringgold, Ga., on Dec. 23, 2013, after he responded to the Board of Professional Responsibility regarding a complaint of misconduct.
Madison County lawyer Bede O. M. Anyanwu received a public censure from the Tennessee Supreme Court on Dec. 18, 2013, for engaging in a conflict of interest and drafting documents that were misleading. The board found that Anyanwu represented a seller in a real estate transaction although his wife was to be the buyer in the transaction. The court also found that he drafted documents that were misleading as to the true sales price of the property. His actions were found to violate Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2(d), 1.7 and 8.4(a), (b) and (c).
Franklin lawyer Huntly Scott Gordon was censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Dec. 23, 2013, after the court found that he entered into a business transaction without the informed consent of his client and that he failed to put agreements in writing. Gordon was one of several investors in the development of two tracts of land. Over a two-year period, he collected rent on three houses while a fourth was provided rent-free. He later claimed that he had a verbal agreement allowing him to retain the rent and live in that house in exchange for services provided by the renters. His actions were determined to violate Rules of Professional Conduct 1.8(a) and 8.4(a).
Memphis lawyer and Shelby County Assistant District Attorney Thomas D. Henderson was publicly censured by the state Supreme Court on Dec. 23, 2013, for not making timely disclosures of all exculpatory evidence during the discovery phase of a capital murder case. The court found that Henderson failed to disclose the evidence in 1998 and again in 2004 when the case was on retrial. Henderson submitted a conditional guilty plea acknowledging that he violated Disciplinary Rule 7-103 and Rules of Professional Conduct 3.8 and 8.4.
The Tennessee Supreme Court publicly censured Memphis lawyer Samuel Rodriguez III on Dec. 23, 2013, for not being diligent in the handling of three appointed cases. In the first case, the court found that Rodriguez did not properly withdraw after the trial court denied his client’s petition for post conviction relief, and that he failed to timely file a notice of appeal for the client. In the second case, Rodriguez was appointed to represent a client on appeal but failed to pursue the appeal for an extended period of time. In the third case, the court found that he failed to timely file an appeal brief on behalf of a client and later was relieved of representation by the Court of Criminal Appeals. In all three cases, Rodriguez also was found to have not communicated with clients for extended periods of time. Rodriguez submitted a conditional guilty plea acknowledging violations of Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.16, 3.2 and 8.4(a).
Memphis lawyer Linda Kaye Kendall Garner was publicly censured on Dec. 26, 2013, for entering into a contingent fee agreement without putting it in writing and failing to diligently pursue her client’s case. Garner submitted a conditional guilty plea acknowledging she violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.5 and 8.4(a).
McMinn County lawyer Paul Donald Rush was publicly censured on Dec. 27, 2013, for intentionally soliciting a statement from a prosecution witness that had been prohibited by court order prior to trial. The Tennessee Supreme Court also found that Rush failed to report the misconduct to the Board of Professional Responsibility though being ordered to do so by the trial court. Rush’s actions were found to have violated Rules of Professional Conduct 3.4(c) and 8.4(d).
The state Supreme Court on Dec. 9, 2013, suspended Christopher Wayne Barber, formerly of Clarksville, for three years and ordered him to pay restitution in the amount of $2,500. In imposing the discipline, the court allowed Barber to serve the third year on probation so long as he contacts the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP), pays all outstanding professional privilege taxes and completes all continuing legal education requirements. The court found that Barber practiced law while suspended, failed to notify clients of the suspension, repeatedly failed to respond to a client regarding the status of a case, and failed to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility’s petition of discipline. His actions were determined to violate Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4, 1.16, 3.3(h), 5.5, 8.1(b) and 8.4(a), (c), (d) and (g).
On Dec. 9, 2013, Shelby County attorney David Gregory Hays was immediately suspended from the practice of law for failing to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility regarding a complaint of misconduct. The suspension remains in effect until modified or dissolved by the court.
Knoxville lawyer Johnathan Kenneth Borsodi was suspended for three years on Dec. 10, 2013, retroactive to a temporary suspension imposed in July 2012. The Tennessee Supreme Court found that Borsodi accepted a non-refundable fee in the amount of $7,500 and then failed to file the appeal and misled his client that the appeal was progressing. The court also found that he failed to respond to his client’s requests for information, abandoned his legal practice without notice to his client and failed to respond to BPR’s petition for discipline — violations of Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.4, 1.5, 3.2, 8.1 and 8.4. In addition to imposing the suspension, the court directed Borsodi to submit to a Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP) evaluation, pay restitution to his former client and pay the cost of the disciplinary proceedings. Finally, it ruled that Borsodi must enter into a TLAP monitoring agreement for one year and work with a practice monitor if he is reinstated.
Michael Scott Collins of Sumner County was suspended from the practice of law on Dec. 10, 2013, for three years after the Tennessee Supreme Court found that he failed to deposit a retainer into his trust account, failed to provide agreed-upon legal services to clients, failed to communicate timely with clients and misled clients regarding the status of their cases. The court also found that a $27,500 retainer fee required from a client in a post-divorce criminal contempt proceeding was unreasonable, and a $10,000 charge for a client to join his “professional family” was unrelated to legal services, improper and unreasonable. His actions were determined to violate Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.15, 3.2, 8.1 and 8.4(a) and (d). The court directed Collins to contact the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP), pay restitution to two former clients and pay the costs of the disciplinary proceedings.
On Dec. 10, 2013, Vanessa Gale Keeler, formerly of Memphis, was suspended from the practice of law for three years and six months retroactive to a three-year suspension imposed in August 2012. The state Supreme Court found that Keeler failed to communicate adequately with her client and failed to perform the legal work for which she was paid. Despite demands from the client, she also failed to refund the fee in a timely manner. Keeler admitted violating Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.15, 1.16(a) and (d) and 8.4(a). The court directed her to pay restitution to the client and made that requirement a condition of any future reinstatement.
The Tennessee Supreme Court suspended the law license of Davidson County lawyer John E. Clemmons on Dec. 19, 2013, after he pleaded guilty to the serious crimes of theft in an amount greater than $60,000, aggravated perjury and TennCare fraud. The court also directed the Board of Professional Responsibility to institute a formal disciplinary proceeding to determine the extent of final discipline to be imposed on Clemmons as a result of the conviction.
Henderson County lawyer April Rebecca Mims was immediately suspended from the practice of law on Dec. 20, 2013, after the state Supreme Court found that she failed to comply with her Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program monitoring agreement. The suspension remains in effect until modified or dissolved by the court.
Nashville lawyer Edward Kindall was suspended from the practice of law on Dec. 26, 2013, for one year retroactive to May 12, the date he was transferred from disability inactive status to active status. Kindall was suspended after the Tennessee Supreme Court found that he failed to supervise a non-lawyer employee who was engaging in the unauthorized practice of law and misusing his trust accounts. After learning of the employee’s actions, Kindall failed to establish policies and procedures to protect against future abuse and failed to properly supervise the assistant. However, he did pay restitution to the clients who were injured. Kindall entered into a conditional guilty plea admitting violations of Rules of Professional Conduct 1.8, 1.15, 5.3, 5.5 and 8.4. The court ordered him to consult with the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program, refund a partial fee to a client and pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.
Mark Kelley Braswell of Washington, D.C., was suspended by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Dec. 27, 2013, for six months, retroactive to May 22, 2012, when he was suspended for failure to respond to a complaint of misconduct. In addition, the state Supreme Court directed that at the end of the six months, Braswell remain indefinitely suspended until he pays $40,000 in restitution to a former client. The court found that Braswell, while representing the client in a federal Securities and Exchange Commission matter in Florida, failed to appear at trial, failed to timely file a brief in the appeal, misled the client that the brief had been filed, and misled opposing counsel by implying a copy of the brief would be delivered by FedEx. These actions led to dismissal of the client’s appeal. Braswell admitted violating Florida Rules of Professional Conduct 4-1.1, 4-1.3, 4-1.4, 4-1.5, 4-1.16 and 4-8.4(a) and Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct 8.1(b). In choosing to suspend Braswell, the court cited the mitigating factors that he was experiencing serious health problems during the case and had no prior disciplinary record.
The Tennessee Supreme Court immediately suspended Hamblen County lawyer Joseph James Doherty from the practice of law on Dec. 27, 2013, after finding that he failed to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility regarding a complaint of misconduct. The suspension remains in effect until modified or dissolved by the court.
Nashville lawyer William Alan Alder was disbarred from the practice of law on Dec. 26, 2013. The Tennessee Supreme Court found that Alder failed to obtain service of process on defendants in a personal injury case, which resulted in the suit being dismissed with prejudice. Alder then failed to inform his clients that the case had been dismissed, instead misleading them into believing that it was progressing normally. Eventually, he told them the suit had settled and provided a fictitious release. The court determined that his actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.16, 3.2, 8.1(b) and 8.4(a) and (c).
Board of Judicial Conduct
Gallatin City Recorder and Municipal Judge Connie Kittrell was publicly reprimanded by the Board of Judicial Conduct on Dec. 19, 2013, for violating Canons 1 and 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct. The board took the action after Kittrell was found to have ordered the city court clerk to dismiss a traffic citation issued to one of her close relatives. The case involved a relative of Kittrell’s, who received a citation in February 2011 for failing to present proof of registration and insurance. A court date was set for April 4, 2011, but the relative failed to appear. The citation was then placed in a folder to be sent to the Tennessee Department of Safety for possible license suspension. At some point in May 2011, Kittrell learned that the relative did have insurance at the time the citation was issued and had obtained registration for the vehicle prior to the court date. Based on that information, she asked that the ticket be dismissed and it was. During the disciplinary process Kittrell indicated that she did not intend to confer a benefit on her relative but acknowledged that her actions violated the Code of Conduct and provided assurances that it would not happen again.
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.
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.