Licensure & Discipline

DISABILITY INACTIVE

The law license of Knox County lawyer Arun Rattan was transferred to disability inactive status on May 20. He may not practice law while on disability inactive status, but may return to practice after showing by clear and convincing evidence that the disability has been removed.

The law license of Lake County lawyer Timothy C. Naifeh was transferred to disability inactive status on May 27. He may not practice law while on disability inactive status, but may return to practice after showing by clear and convincing evidence that the disability has been removed.

The law license of Williamson County lawyer Stephanie Derrick Gray was transferred to disability inactive status on June 2. She may not practice law while on disability inactive status, but may return to practice after showing by clear and convincing evidence that the disability has been removed.

DISCIPLINARY

Censured
Brent J. McIntosh of Cleveland was publicly censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court on May 9. A hearing panel determined that while representing a client McIntosh threatened to present a criminal charge against an unrepresented person for the purpose of obtaining an advantage in a civil matter. The court determined that his actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 4.4(a)(2) and 8.4(a).

Clarksville lawyer Fletcher Whaley Long was publicly censured on June 4 for failure to deposit a fee into his trust account despite a written agreement to do so, failure to provide an accounting of fees and failure to refund unearned fees. Long appealed the Board of Professional Responsibility’s recommendation that a censure be imposed. The chancery court and the Tennessee Supreme Court upheld the suspension. The court found that Long’s actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.4, 1.15, 1.16 and 8.4.

Suspended
Nashville lawyer Jerry Alan Kennon was suspended from the practice of law on May 15 for one year and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $3,760. The Tennessee Supreme Court imposed the discipline after finding that Kennon utilized his trust account as a personal account, failed to perform work he was retained to do, filed suit against the wrong defendant, failed to appear in court as required, failed to communicate with clients and failed to return an unearned fee. In another case, Kennon incorrectly executed statements in lieu of final accounting, failed to obtain a TennCare release, failed to close an estate for several years and failed to appear at a show cause hearing. The court determined that his actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.15, 1.16, 3.2 and 8.4(a) and (d).

On May 21, the Tennessee Supreme Court suspended Knox County lawyer Robert Lawson Cheek Jr. based on his guilty plea to the serious crime of mail fraud. The court’s order acknowledged Cheek’s disbarment on May 15, but found that the Board of Professional Responsibility retains jurisdiction to address subsequent allegations of misconduct. The court ordered the board to institute a formal proceeding to determine the extent of final discipline to be imposed as a result of the guilty plea.

The Supreme Court of Tennessee temporarily suspended Shelby County lawyer Jacob Edward Erwin on May 21 after finding that he failed to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility regarding a complaint of misconduct.

On May 30, Memphis lawyer John Robert Hershberger was suspended for two years, with 60 days to be served on active suspension and the remainder to be served on probation subject to the following conditions: (1) participation with a practice monitor, (2) establishment of an operating account for his law practice, and (3) evaluation by the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program. The Tennessee Supreme Court suspended Hershberger after finding that he improperly used a trust account for personal and business transactions not related to his law practice.  Hershberger entered a guilty plea to the charges. The court found his actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.15 and 8.4(a).

Disbarred
The Tennessee Supreme Court disbarred Knox County lawyer Robert Lawson Cheek Jr. on May 15 after finding that he neglected cases, failed to communicate with clients and failed to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility about a petition for discipline and notice of a final disciplinary hearing. Specifically, the court found that Cheek settled a lawsuit without the knowledge and consent of a client, forged the client’s name on the settlement check and misappropriated the settlement funds. In another case, Cheek was found to have withheld money from a settlement to pay subrogation claims, but paid only a portion and misappropriated the remainder. His actions were determined to violate Rules of Professional Conduct 1.4, 1.5, 1.15, 8.1, 8.4(a) and (d). The court ordered Cheek to pay restitution to his former clients as a condition of reinstatement.

Memphis lawyer Sharon K. Anderson was disbarred by the Tennessee Supreme Court on June 5 after pleading guilty to fraudulent transmission of money in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2314. Anderson entered a conditional guilty plea accepting the disbarment.

Savannah lawyer James Strong Powell was disbarred by the Tennessee Supreme Court on June 5 after being convicted of aggravated perjury in violation of Tenn. Code Ann. 39-16-703. The Board of Professional Responsibility instituted a formal proceeding to determine the extent of final discipline to be imposed, but Powell did not respond to the board’s petition. An order of default was then entered. The court found that Powell’s actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 8.4(a), (b), (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.