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Licensure & Discipline
The following attorneys have been reinstated to the practice of law after complying with Supreme Court Rule 21, which requires mandatory continuing legal education: William David Cheek, Memphis; James Richard Golden, Pineville, Ky.; David R. Huggins, Memphis; Matthew Charles O’Connell, Cleveland, Ohio; Jesse Wadell Wainwright, Houston, Texas.
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: Antonio Marcell Adams, Memphis; Benjamin Franklin Parrish Jr., Brentwood; Elizabeth Gernert Sillay, Madison, Wis.
Knoxville lawyer Thomas Francis Di Lustro was reinstated to the practice of law on Oct. 2 after responding to the Board of Professional Responsibility about a complaint of misconduct. He had been suspended on Sept. 17 for failure to respond to the board.
William H. Thomas Jr. of Memphis was publicly censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Oct. 4 for failing to abide by a court order requiring him to comply with discovery requests in a civil proceeding. The court found his actions violated Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(d) and (g).
Davidson County lawyer Robin Jeffrey Gordon was publicly censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Oct. 22 for employing an attorney with an inactive Illinois law license and no Tennessee license to work as a paralegal in his office. The employee held himself out to clients as an attorney by signing two letters with detailed legal advice, providing three receipts that listed him as an “attorney” with a billable rate of $250, and providing a business card identifying himself as an “attorney at law.” The court found that Gordon billed for his employee’s time at an unreasonable rate, and failed to ensure that the employee did not engage in the unauthorized practice of law. His actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.5 and 5.3.
Overton County lawyer Lynda W. Simmons was publicly censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Oct. 22 for violating Rules of Professional Conduct 1.6 and 1.8. With the consent of her client’s daughter, Simmons prepared a deed transferring the client’s real property to her own husband – not intending to record the deed unless the client was being improperly influenced. The client executed the deed and almost one year later, Simmons recorded it. Twelve days later, at the request of the client, Simmons’ husband executed a deed returning the property. Simmons was found to have disclosed confidential information about her client and violated conflict of interest rules during the transactions.
Hamilton County lawyer John M. Wolfe Jr. was publicly censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Oct. 22 for violating rules related to scope of representation, communication and misconduct. The court found that Wolfe settled a civil lawsuit without the client’s permission in exchange for the defendant paying the court costs. He then paid the client $500, which he told the client was a payment from the defendant. In addition, Wolfe entered an agreed order of dismissal and failed to provide a copy of it to the client for more than a year. He also never informed the client in any other way that the case had been settled. His acts were found to have violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2, 1.4 and 8.4.
Shelby County lawyer Michael E. Latimore was publicly censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Oct. 29 for failing to communicate effectively with his client, diligently represent his client’s interest, inform his client that his license to practice law had been suspended, or issue an appropriate refund. The court found that his actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.16, 8.1 and 8.4.
Shelby County lawyer Jami Keith Ferrell received a public censure on Nov. 1 for failing to comply with the swearing-in requirements of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 6 until May 21, 2009. Prior to that time, Ferrell had opened a law office in Tennessee and launched a website promoting his legal services. His actions were determined to violate Rules of Professional Conduct 5.5(a) and 8.4(a).
The Tennessee Supreme Court affirmed the temporary suspension of Rogersville attorney John Douglas Godbee on Oct. 4 based on a petition from the Board of Professional Responsibility that he continued to pose a threat of substantial harm to the public. Godbee had petitioned the court on Aug. 13 to dissolve his suspension. A hearing panel recommended that the petition be denied. The court accepted the recommendation and rejected Godbee’s petition.
Anderson County attorney Samuel Lain was suspended from the practice of law on Oct. 17 for appearing in court in an impaired state, appearing in court while suspended, and failing to competently represent clients. On one occasion, Lain did not have the necessary papers for a client he was representing in an uncontested divorce. In another case, Lain allowed his client to prepare answers to interrogatories that were prejudicial to his client’s interests and wrote unprofessional and incompetent objections on the discovery responses provided to opposing counsel. The one-year suspension was made retroactive to Aug. 22, 2011, but will run for an indefinite period thereafter until certain conditions are met. Conditions include participation with the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program, payment of costs, payment of registration fees and compliance with continuing legal education. His actions were determined to violate Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 3.4(d), 5.5 and 8.4(a) and (d).
Chattanooga lawyer Fred T. Hanzelik was suspended on Oct. 18 for one year, with six months to be served on actual suspension and six months to be served on probation. In imposing the disciplinary action, the Tennessee Supreme Court found that Hanzelik neglected clients’ cases, failed to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing clients, and failed to adequately communicate with clients. Hanzelik entered a conditional guilty plea. His actions were determined to violate Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4, 3.2, 3.4 and 8.4.
The Tennessee Supreme Court on Oct. 18 suspended the law license of Crocket County lawyer Shannon Jones for three years after he was convicted of conspiracy to manufacture and possess methamphetamine with the intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. The court also directed Jones to remain compliant with his Tennessee Lawyer’s Assistance Program monitoring agreement throughout the length of the suspension. His actions were found to violate Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(a), (b) and (c). In addition to suspension from the practice of law, Jones was sentenced to six months in prison followed by three years’ probation.
Hawkins County lawyer James Franklin Taylor was suspended on Oct. 26 following his guilty plea to the count of felony theft. In addition to imposing the suspension, the Supreme Court directed the Board of Professional Responsibility to institute a formal proceeding to determine the extent of final discipline to be imposed.
2012 Fee & IOLTA Suspensions
On Oct. 9, the Tennessee Supreme Court issued additional 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. Those who have complied with the rules since the orders were issued, and for whom notification of a status change was received from the Board of Professional Responsibility prior to press time, are noted as reinstated. For the most current information visit http://www.tba.org/info/2012-fee-iolta-suspensions
Failure to File Annual Fee & IOLTA Report
Athens: Mary Ann Michel Dalton (reinstated)
Chattanooga: Gerald Webb Jr. (reinstated)
Knoxville: Kaden Fox, Laura Elizabeth Metcalf
McMinnville: Larry Gene Bryant (reinstated)
*Memphis: Yolanda Rochelle Kight (reinstated), Arne Birger Thompson Jr.
Nashville: Jack Edward Seaman
Alabama: Lucile Abernethy Ray
Connecticut: Andrew Scott Gale
Florida: Robert F. Hedgepath
Kentucky: Anthony Allen Waits
Mississippi: Jennifer Lynn Mussel White
Texas: William Noble Husley III (reinstated)
Virginia: Terry Carroll Frye, Lauren Price Whitley
Failure to File IOLTA Report
Memphis: John Michael Bailey (reinstated), Stuart Baker Yates (reinstated)
* Wayne Smythe Taylor was originally included on the list of Memphis lawyers who had been suspended. The Board of Professional Responsibility reports, however, that Taylor is retired and should not have been included on the suspension order. The court issued an Order Nunc Pro Tunc on Oct. 17 removing the suspension.
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 board¹s website at www.tbpr.org/consumers/attorneysearch.