TBA Law Blog

Posted by: BPR Reports on Dec 1, 2015

Journal Issue Date: Dec 2015

Journal Name: December 2015 - Vol. 51, No. 12


The Supreme Court of Tennessee reinstated the law license of Davidson County lawyer William Caldwell Hancock on Oct. 16. Hancock had been suspended for one year on Aug. 13, 2015, but the court took this action based upon Hancock’s assertion that he did not receive a copy of a final judgment issued by the trial court in his appeal of an attorney disciplinary proceeding. The trial court granted Hancock relief by re-entering its final judgment affirming the disciplinary sanction on Sept. 29 and initiated a new period to appeal.


The law licenses of the following Tennessee attorneys were transferred to disability inactive status. They may not practice law while on inactive status, but may petition the court for reinstatement by showing by clear and convincing evidence that the disability has been removed and they are fit to resume the practice of law:
Campbell County lawyer Jody Rodenborn Troutman, Oct. 23; and Knox County lawyer Thomas F. Mabry, Oct. 27.


Hamilton County lawyer James Dimmett Purple Sr. was censured by the state Supreme Court on Oct. 13 after the court found that he failed to adequately communicate with a client about the status of litigation and failed to adequately prepare for trial. Purple also took actions without the authority of his client and failed to object to key matters in the case, which resulted in prejudice against his client. The court found that Purple’s action violated Rule of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4 and 8.4(a) and (d).

The Tennessee Supreme Court censured Knox County lawyer Horace Maynard Brown on Oct. 14. Brown was representing a client in a bankruptcy case and while that case was pending, Brown took possession of a portion of a personal injury case’s settlement funds. He also failed to place the settlement proceeds in a trust account, and he did not maintain records of the disbursements of the funds to his client’s creditors. Additionally, Brown utilized one bank account for both his funds and client funds. The court found that Brown violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.15 and 3.4(c).

Davidson County attorney John Martin Drake was censured on Oct. 14 after the Tennessee Supreme Court found that Drake abandoned his client’s appeal from the denial of post-conviction relief. Drake failed to file a brief on his client’s behalf and likewise failed to respond to the court’s inquiries regarding the status of the appeal. The court found that his actions violated Rule of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 3.2 and 8.4.

The Tennessee Supreme Court censured Madison County lawyer Clayton F. Mayo on Oct. 14. In 2013, Mayo was hired to represent a client in a divorce; Mayo failed to communicate with his client and he took no action on his client’s behalf. Mayo was suspended from practicing law on Jan. 27, 2014, but he did not inform his client and he did not refund the fee she paid. Mayo also failed to respond to the disciplinary complaint. His actions were determined to violate Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.15, 1.16, 3.2, 8.1 and 8.4.

Wilson County lawyer Susan Carol Parkes was censured on Oct. 14 by the Tennessee Supreme Court after she neglected her clients’ bankruptcy cases in 2008 for long periods of time and failed to communicate with her clients. Furthermore, Parkes led her clients to believe action had been taken when it had not. She did not take action to resolve the case until the present disciplinary complaint had been filed. The court found that Parkes violated Rule of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4, 3.2 and 8.4(c).

Rutherford County lawyer Laural Ann Axson Hemenway was censured on Oct. 15 by the state Supreme Court. Hemenway had been the assistant district attorney in a criminal trial. After the judge granted a mistrial on an evidentiary issue, Hemenway stated in open court comments such as, “I feel this is a hostile environment for a female”; “this entire court proceeding has been a violation of my Constitutional Rights as a woman to be treated fairly”; “my rights have not been protected.” Her actions were determined to violate Rules of Professional Conduct 3.5(e), 8.2(a) and 8.4(d).

The state’s Supreme Court censured Bedford County lawyer Christopher Paul Westmoreland on Oct. 15. While representing a client on two criminal matters, Westmoreland timely filed an appeal in the first matter, but neglected to timely file the appellate brief. In the second matter, Westmoreland neglected to timely file the notice of appeal. Several months later, Westmoreland filed a motion to accept the late-filed notice of appeal which was granted. No activity took place on the appeal for at least four months until the clerk notified Westmoreland that the record had not been received. Thereafter, the record was filed, briefs were filed, and the appeal was submitted on briefs. Westmoreland also failed to timely respond to requests for information from his client. The court found that Westmoreland violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4, 3.2, 3.4(c) and 8.4(d).

On Oct. 19, McNairy County lawyer Ross Neal Mitchell was censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court after finding he made multiple misrepresentations to his client in a legal malpractice case, including that he filed the complaint, that there were court hearings scheduled on three occasions, that mediation was scheduled on a particular date, and that the lawsuit was successful. Mitchell violated Rule of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.16 and 8.4(c).

Shelby County lawyer William Clark Barnes Jr. was censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Oct. 28. During the representation of a client in a civil lawsuit, Barnes’ law license was suspended for failing to comply with continuing legal education requirements. After the suspension of his license, Barnes did not provide notice of the suspension to his client as required by the Tennessee Supreme Court. When the court denied Barnes’ request that the trial be continued, Barnes made no further efforts to protect the client’s interests. Additionally, Barnes did not promptly surrender the client’s file to the client’s subsequent attorney. Barnes has violated Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9, Section 28, and Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4 and 1.16(d). In relation to a prior disciplinary matter on March 31, Barnes was suspended for three years with six months to be served as active suspension and the remainder to be served on probation. Barnes has not sought reinstatement from the active suspension.

The state Supreme Court disbarred Montgomery County attorney Carrie Watson Gasaway on Oct. 5 and the court ordered restitution paid to six former clients. Gasaway had been suspended on May 15, after being convicted of extortion. The court took action based on several complaints of misconduct, including that Gasaway: (1) engaged in theft of client money from trust; (2) charged unreasonable fees; (3) provided incompetent representation; (4) failed to refund unearned fees; (5) made false statements of fact; (6) threatened criminal prosecution to obtain an advantage in a civil proceeding and (7) failed to report the professional misconduct of co-counsel and partner and engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, deceit and misrepresentations. Gasaway’s conduct violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.15, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 4.4, 5.1, 5.3, 1.16, 8.1, 8.3 and 8.4.

Davison County attorney Jerry Alan Kennon was disbarred on Oct. 14 by the Tennessee Supreme Court after Kennon repeatedly violated court rules by filing four successive defective requests for temporary restraining orders. The requests were for the purpose of delaying his eviction from his home. Kennon did not respond to the complaint, he did not answer the petition for discipline and he did not appear at the hearing. He has also been suspended twice in the two proceeding years. Kennon’s actions violated the following Rules of Professional Conduct: 3.1, 3.3, 8.1(b) and 8.4(a) and (d).

Compiled by Amelia Ferrell Knisely 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.