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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Nov 15, 2012

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys 1:

Larry R. Dillow and Katherine L. Tranum, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellant, James Beeler.

Attorneys 2:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; John H. Bledsoe, Senior Counsel; Anthony Wade Clark, District Attorney General; and Janet Hardin, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge(s): CLARK

We accepted this appeal to determine whether a lawyer’s potential violation of the ethical rule governing communications with a person represented by another lawyer constitutes criminal contempt pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-9-102(1), (2). Although a lawyer’s violation of an ethical rule may in some circumstances constitute criminal contempt, the evidence in this case is insufficient to support the “willful misbehavior” element of the offense of criminal contempt. Therefore, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals, and we vacate Mr. Beeler’s conviction.