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Licensure & Discipline
The following attorneys were reinstated to the practice of law after the Tennessee Supreme Court entered an order vacating their suspensions nunc pro tunc. In both cases, the Board of Professional Responsibility erred in suspending them.
Mohamad Akbik, New York, N.Y.
Robert Stephen Butler, Somerville
The following attorneys were reinstated to the practice of law after complying with Supreme Court Rule 21, which requires mandatory continuing legal education:
Karl Joseph Amelchenko, Wilmington, N.C.; Benjamin Douglas Groce, Murfreesboro; and Brian K. Roberts, Fairbanks, Alaska.
The following attorneys were reinstated to the practice of law after complying with Section 20 of Supreme Court Rule 9, which requires the payment of annual registration fees to the Board of Professional Responsibility:
Kathleen Lynn Chambers, San Ramon, Calif.; Anthony William Desmond, Knoxville; John Michael Moody II, Fort Lauderdale, Calif.; Lane Ryan Waters, Pleasant Grove, Utah.
The following attorneys were reinstated to the practice of law after complying with Section 20 of Supreme Court Rule 9, which requires the payment of annual registration fees to the Board of Professional Responsibility, and Supreme Court Rule 43, which requires certification that a lawyer’s funds are held in an account participating in the Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program:
Robert Peter Cuccia, Houma, La.; Steven Michael Hogden, Bettendorf, Iowa; Sally French Paulson, Memphis; Bonny Elizabeth Roderick, Hixson; James Paul Sizemore, Manhattan Beach, Calif.; Robert Tudor Strang III, Norcross, Ga.; Charles Lochridge Weatherly, Hixson.
Hickman County lawyer Douglas P. Nanney was reinstated to the practice of law on June 29. He had been suspended on Feb. 3, 2005, for two years. In January, Nanney filed a petition for reinstatement. The court determined that he should be reinstated but directed him to undergo monitoring by the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program and to complete additional ethics and professionalism education.
The law license of Madison County lawyer Roger Alan Staton was transferred to disability inactive status on June 5. Staton may not practice law while on this status but may petition the court to reinstate his license by showing by clear and convincing evidence that the disability has been removed and he is fit to resume the practice of law.
Murfreesboro lawyer Jerry Scott was transferred to disability inactive status by the Tennessee Supreme Court on June 11. He may not practice law while on disability inactive status, but may resume the practice of law after showing by clear and convincing evidence that the disability has been removed and he is fit to return to the practice of law.
Former Maury County lawyer Rhonda D. Hooks received a public censure from the Tennessee Supreme Court on June 5. The court also ordered her to attend 10 additional hours of ethics legal education in 2012, 2013 and 2014. The court found that she filed a motion in a client’s criminal case without notifying and receiving permission from the client’s current counsel; assisted a client in the unauthorized practice of law; and failed to ascertain the status and complexity of a client’s case prior to representing that client. Her actions were found to have violated Rules of Professional Conduct 5.5 and 8.4 (a), (c) and (d).
Knoxville lawyer Vanessa Lynn Lemons was suspended on June 11 for her failure to respond to a complaint of ethical misconduct.
Nashville lawyer Dana L. Nero was suspended on June 11 for failure to substantially comply with her Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program Monitoring Agreement.
The Tennessee Supreme Court summarily and temporarily suspended the law license of Memphis lawyer Richard Bryan Fields on June 19 after finding that he failed to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility regarding a complaint of misconduct.
Sevier County lawyer Jerry DeWayne Kerley was suspended from the practice of law on June 21 based on his conviction for serious crimes. Kerley was convicted by a jury of conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution or bank fraud, wire fraud affecting a financial institution relating to the purchase of real property, bank fraud in submitting a false statement relating to the purchase of real property, false statements to a bank relating to the purchase of real property, and money laundering relating to the purchase of real property. The Supreme Court also ordered the Board of Professional Responsibility to institute a formal proceeding to determine the extent of final discipline to be imposed as a result of the conviction.
Memphis lawyer Gail Ostby Mathes was summarily and temporarily suspended from the practice of law on June 26 for failing to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility regarding a complaint of misconduct.
The Supreme Court of Tennessee temporarily suspended the law license of Hamilton County lawyer Jeffrey Andrew Stinnett on June 29 for his failure to respond to a complaint of ethical misconduct.
The Tennessee Supreme Court temporarily suspended the law license of Hawkins County lawyer and former judge James F. Taylor on June 29, finding that he misappropriated funds for his own use and posed a threat of substantial harm to the public.
The Tennessee Supreme Court on July 3 reversed a decision by the Knox County Chancery Court and reinstated a Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility hearing panel’s ruling that Knoxville lawyer William S. Lockett Jr. be suspended for four years. The chancery court had reduced the suspension to two years following Lockett’s appeal of the hearing panel’s judgment. In reversing the decision, the Supreme Court said the lower court failed to base its modification on any of the criteria set forth in Supreme Court Rule 9, Section 1.3. In addition, after conducting its own review of the hearing panel’s decision, the Supreme Court agreed that the four-year suspension was consistent with sanctions imposed on other attorneys for similar criminal conduct. Disciplinary action against Lockett was brought in 2010 after he pleaded guilty to felony theft and failure to file income tax returns. In addition to reinstating the original suspension, the court ordered Lockett to be supervised by a practice monitor for one year if and when he returns to the practice of law.
The Tennessee Supreme Court on June 6 disbarred Knoxville attorney John Threadgill and ordered him to pay restitution of more than $266,000 to seven former clients. The court found that he misappropriated client funds; neglected client matters; failed to communicate with clients; engaged in dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation; and commingled client, personal and business funds — violations of Rules 1.1, 1.3, 1.5, 1.15, 1.16 and 8.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Montgomery County attorney Donrua Barnes-Hulsey was disbarred by the Tennessee Supreme Court on June 22 for neglecting client matters, failing to communicate with clients and abandoning her practice. The court found that her actions violated Rules 1.3, 1.4, 1.16, 3.2 and 8.4 of the Rules Supreme Court of Tennessee.
Board of Judicial Conduct
The Court of the Judiciary (now the Board of Judicial Conduct) issued a public reprimand to Bradley County General Sessions Court Judge Sheridan Randolph on June 15, finding that Randolph improperly conducted a hearing and set release conditions for a defendant arrested in connection with a burglary in which he was the victim. When confronted with the complaint, Randolph admitted it was a mistake to hold the hearing. The court found that his actions violated Code of Judicial Conduct Canon 2A and Canon 3E(l)(d)(iv).
The Court of the Judiciary (now the Board of Judicial Conduct) issued a public reprimand to Red Bank City Judge Johnny D. Houston on June 21 after finding that he made inappropriate comments while acting in an official capacity. Following an October 2011 judicial hearing, Houston was reported to have told a group of men accused of robbing and beating a Red Bank man to death that he wished he could “pull a trap door” and send them “straight to hell right now” before sending their cases to a grand jury. Houston admitted that he made the statement, which the disciplinary body found violated Code of Judicial Conduct Canon 1, Canon 2A and Canon 3B(4).
The Court of the Judiciary (now the Board of Judicial Conduct) issued a public reprimand to Judicial District 19 Circuit Court Judge John Gasaway on June 27 after Gasaway published an order denying a motion to recuse himself in cases involving attorneys who had recently left the law practice where his wife was a partner. In the order, Gasaway indicated he believed the motion was intended to defame his and his wife’s reputations stemming from a dispute between his wife and one of the attorneys. The court found that Gasaway based his decision on information that he did not gain “in any hearing, or in any other manner which was proper” for his consideration. Gasaway admitted his error in issuing the order without a hearing and reciting facts he had not properly considered. He also admitted an error in accusing one of the attorneys of violating rules related to confidentiality and candor. The reprimand found that his actions violated Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct.
2012 Fee & IOLTA Suspensions
On June 6 and 26, the Tennessee Supreme Court issued orders suspending Tennessee-licensed attorneys who did not pay their 2012 registration fee to the Board of Professional Responsibility and/or did not file a mandatory compliance statement that eligible client funds are held in accounts participating in the Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program.
Beginning in January 2012, the court began entering suspension orders on a monthly basis, based on attorney birthdates. Suspension lists will be issued each month for those attorneys who do not meet filing requirements for that month. The June orders reflect attorneys with birthdates in April and May. Those who have complied with the rules since the orders were issued are noted as reinstated.
Failure to File Annual Fee & IOLTA Report
Brentwood: William Henry Burford
Camden: Alan George Ward (reinstated)
Chattanooga: Angela Sims, James Gordon Petty
Cumberland Furnace: Columbus Wade Bobo (reinstated)
Franklin: Philip Sack Clark (reinstated), Thomas Holland McKinnie Jr. (reinstated)
Germantown: Michael Randolph Kelly (reinstated)
Knoxville: Adam Arthur Edwards, Patricia Anne Greer (reinstated)
Lexington: Bradley Glenn Kirk
Maryville: Stanley R. Barnett (reinstated)
Memphis: Don Anthony Handley (reinstated), Curtis Douglas Johnson (reinstated), Felicia Corbin Johnson, Dee Shawn Peoples (reinstated)
Nashville: Newton S. Holiday III, Lora Jackson Manson, Elizabeth Anne Sanders (reinstated)
Paris: Gary Joe Swayne (reinstated)
Tullahoma: Garth Roland Segroves (reinstated)
District of Columbia: Caroline Critchfield Hunter
Michigan: Demosthenes Anistasios Lorandos
Mississippi: Michael Lee Scott, James William Williams (reinstated)
North Carolina: Mark Anthon Montgomery (reinstated)
Texas: Vanessa Gale Keeler, Denise Verna Pratt
Morocco: Tamanna Qureshi
Failure to Pay Annual Fee
Knoxville: Roy Patrick Neuenschwander (reinstated)
Nashville: Kelly Annette Greene (reinstated)
Arkansas: Robin Miller Emis
Indiana: Jessica Dawn Paxson