Licensure & Discipline

DISABILITY INACTIVE

The Tennessee Supreme Court transferred the law license of Coffee County lawyer Harry B. Gilley to disability inactive status on Oct. 26. Gilley may not practice law while on inactive status but may return to the practice of law by showing by clear and convincing evidence that the disability has been removed and he is fit to resume practicing.

The law license of Shelby County attorney Samuel Lee Perkins was transferred to disability inactive status on Oct. 8. He may not practice law while on inactive status but may return to the practice of law by showing by clear and convincing evidence that the disability has been removed and he is fit to resume practicing.

The law license of Shelby County attorney Jerry Francis Taylor was transferred to disability inactive status on Oct. 8. He may not practice law while on inactive status but may return to the practice of law by showing by clear and convincing evidence that the disability has been removed and he is fit to resume practicing.

REINSTATED

Sevier County attorney Joe Gene Bagwell was reinstated to the practice of law as of Oct. 10 pursuant to an order filed on Oct. 17. Bagwell signed a partial payment agreement with the Collection Services Division of the Tennessee Department of Revenue, provided the Board of Professional Responsibility with a letter of tax clearance, paid a delinquency penalty to the board and paid a reinstatement fee.

The Board of Professional Responsibility has reinstated a Texas attorney who was placed on inactive status more than five years ago. An order of reinstatement for Jacob D. Bashore of Harker Heights was filed on Oct. 12. After finding that he had met all requirements for reinstatement, the board made the reinstatement retroactive to Oct. 4.

The Supreme Court of Tennessee reinstated Williamson County attorney Michael Gibbs Sheppard to the practice of law on Oct. 25. Sheppard was suspended by the court on Aug. 13 for a period of 60 days, followed by two years of probation. He filed a petition for reinstatement and the Board of Professional Responsibility found the petition to be satisfactory. Sheppard must serve the remaining two years on probation under the supervision of a practice monitor and take 15 hours of continuing legal education on law office management and trust accounting procedures.

Arizona attorney Roy Lee Steers Jr. was reinstated to the practice of law in Tennessee as of Sept. 21 pursuant to an order entered on Oct. 8. He had filed a petition seeking reinstatement. Following review, the Board of Professional Responsibility stated that the petition was satisfactory and the requirements for reinstatement had been met.

Georgia lawyer Shellana Welch was reinstated to the practice of law in Tennessee on Oct. 22. The Tennessee Supreme Court noted that she had been on inactive status since February 2011. She petitioned for reinstatement and the Board of Professional Responsibility reported that the petition was satisfactory and she had met all requirements for reinstatement. The order was filed on Nov. 1.

On Oct. 19, the Tennessee law license of Candace Lenette Williamson of Southaven, Mississippi, was reinstated. Williamson was temporarily suspended from the practice of law on July 18 for failing to respond to the board regarding a complaint of misconduct. On Aug. 30, she filed a response and on Oct. 3, the Board of Professional Responsibility recommended that the suspension be dissolved.

DISCIPLINARY

Suspended
The Tennessee Supreme Court on Oct. 12 suspended Campbell County lawyer Michael Glen Hatmaker from the practice of law for five years, with a minimum of four years to be served on active suspension and the remainder to be served on probation. The court also made the probationary period contingent on engagement of a practice monitor and no new disciplinary complaints. Hatmaker executed a conditional guilty plea acknowledging he made material misrepresentations to clients and opposing counsel, and failed to expedite litigation, diligently represent clients, reasonably communicate with clients and properly maintain client funds in his trust account. The court found that his actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.15 and 8.4.

On Oct. 18, the Tennessee Supreme Court immediately suspended Lewis County lawyer Larry Joe Hinson Jr. from the practice of law after finding that he misappropriated funds and posed a threat of substantial harm to the public. He is immediately precluded from accepting any new cases and must cease representing existing clients by Nov. 18. The suspension will remain in effect until dissolution or modification by the court.

Shelby County attorney Clay M. McCormack was suspended from the practice of law on Oct. 5 for five years, with one year to be served on active suspension and the remainder to be served on probation. The Tennessee Supreme Court also made the probationary period contingent on engagement of a practice monitor and no new disciplinary complaints. The court found that McCormack closed numerous real estate transactions by inappropriately preparing settlement statements, writing and voiding checks, misleading lenders that sellers’ mortgages had been paid when they had not, and failing to obtain substitution of collateral. His actions were determined to violate Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 4.1(a) and 8.4(a) and (c).

The Tennessee Supreme Court suspended Sevier County lawyer Elizabeth Catherine Velasquez from the practice of law on Oct. 17 for five years, with three years to be served on active suspension and the remainder to be served on probation. The court also directed her to engage a practice monitor, pay restitution to a former client and contact the Tennessee Lawyer’s Assistance Program. The court found that Velasquez failed to communicate with and diligently represent her client, abandoned the client’s case and did not respond to a petition for discipline. Her actions were determined to violate Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5(a), 1.16(d), 3.2, 8.1(b) and 8.4(a) and (d).  
   
Censured
Lawrence County attorney Charles Matthew Bates received a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility on Oct. 24 for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. The board found that Bates appeared in court on behalf of several clients while his license was administratively suspended for failure to comply with annual registration and IOLTA reporting requirements. His actions were determined to violate Rule of Professional Conduct 5.5.

On Oct. 15, Bradley County lawyer Douglas Neil Blackwell II was censured by the Board of Professional Responsibility. The board found that Blackwell (1) accepted a refundable retainer fee from a client but did not deposit the fee in his trust account until the work was done; (2) failed to diligently represent his client’s interest; (3) failed to properly communicate with his client; (4) failed to include critical documentation with legal pleadings; (5) failed to provide the former client with the client file; and (6) drafted a fee affidavit that was unreasonable and based on misrepresentations. These actions were determined to violate Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.15, 1.16, 3.2, 3.3, 8.1(b) and 8.4(a)(c)(d).

On Oct. 15, Davidson County lawyer Wendell Cornelius Dawson received a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility. The board found that while representing a client who was applying for cancellation of removal before the immigration court, Dawson failed to call any witnesses other than the client to satisfy the significant burden of showing exceptional and extremely unusual hardship. In addition, the board found that Dawson failed to diligently represent his client by not meeting with the client to discuss the appeal and filing a one-page brief that lacked any citations to authority or the record, which reflected that the client had testified to the hardship his children would suffer if he were removed from the United States. In imposing the censure, the board found that Dawson violated Rule 1.3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

On Oct. 18, Davidson County lawyer James Gregory King received a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility. The board found that while representing a client in a domestic relations proceeding, King failed to take proper action to comply with a scheduling order, which led to dismissal of the client’s petition. Prior to the hearing on the motion to dismiss, King also made misleading statements to his client about the nature and significance of the motion and hearing. Finally, the board found that he accepted a refundable fee from a relative of the client without the client’s knowledge and consent, and then failed to deposit the fee in his escrow account. As a condition of the censure, King was directed to refund $2,500 in attorney fees to the relative of the client within 60 days. His actions were determined to violate Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4(a), 1.8(f), 1.15(c) and 3.2

Davidson County lawyer Julie Williams Lampley was censured on Oct. 8 for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. The Board of Professional Responsibility filed a petition for discipline against Lampley based on her self-reporting that she failed to pay her 2015 annual registration fee. She was administratively suspended by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Nov. 23, 2015. Before her license was reinstated she engaged in the practice of law. Lampley entered a conditional guilty plea acknowledging her conduct violated Rule 5.5 of the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct.

On Oct. 15, Montgomery County lawyer Cleveland C. Turner received a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. While his law license was administratively suspended, Turner practiced law for five days, including appearing in court at a hearing. His actions were determined to violate Rule 5.5 of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Contempt
The Tennessee Supreme Court on Oct. 23 found Sumner County lawyer Andy Lamar Allman guilty of two counts of criminal contempt and sentenced him to serve 20 days in jail and pay a fine of $100 (10 days and $50 for each offense with the sentences to run concurrently). Allman was ordered to surrender himself to the Sumner County Sheriff’s Department within 15 days or be subject to arrest. The court’s actions were based on two petitions for contempt filed by the Board of Professional Responsibility and a report by the special master. The board had alleged that Allman engaged in the unauthorized practice of law and failed to comply with an earlier suspension order. Allman entered an agreement to plead nolo contendere alleging he violated his suspension by taking on two new, separate clients and accepting retainer fees totaling $9,000.

Administrative Suspensions
Notice of attorneys suspended for, and reinstated from, administrative violations — including failure to pay the Board of Professional Responsibility fee licensing and inactive fees, file the required IOLTA report, comply with continuing legal education requirements, and pay the Tennessee professional privilege tax – is on the TBA website at www.tba.org/directory-listing/administrative-suspension-lists.

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