TBA Law Blog


Posted by: BPR Reports on Feb 1, 2016

Journal Issue Date: Feb 2016

Journal Name: February 2016 - Vol. 52, No. 2

DISCIPLINARY

Censured
Knox County attorney John Mark Hancock was censured on Dec. 18, 2015, by the Tennessee Supreme Court. Hancock was previously suspended for misconduct and while suspended committed the unauthorized practice of law by drafting a contract for an individual to whom he was providing investment advice. Hancock remains suspended and is required to pay the board’s costs and expenses and the court costs within 90 days of the entry of the order of enforcement. The court found that his actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 5.5 and 8.4(a).

The Tennessee Supreme Court censured Sullivan County attorney Jason R. McLellan on Dec. 22, 2015. McLellan is required to attend at least six hours of continuing legal education related to law practice management. The court found that he failed to adequately communicate with a client about the status of litigation, the dismissal of the case and the filing of a motion to set aside the dismissal. McLellan entered a conditional guilty plea, admitting that his actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.4 and 8.4(a).

Wayne County lawyer Joshua Edward Polk was censured on Dec. 21, 2015, after the Tennessee Supreme Court found that Polk represented clients in two separate matters in which a concurrent conflict of interest existed. In the first matter, Polk failed to obtain a conflict waiver after receiving the informed consent of his clients. In the other matter, Polk represented clients who were adverse to each other in the same litigation. The court found that his actions violated Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2, 1.4, 1.7, and 8.4(a) and (d).

Suspended
The Tennessee Supreme Court temporarily suspended Don W. Cooper on Dec. 4, 2015, after the court found Cooper misappropriated funds and poses a risk of substantial harm to the public. Cooper is immediately precluded from accepting new cases and must cease representing existing clients by Jan. 3. After that date, Cooper shall not use any indicia of lawyer, legal assistant or law clerk or maintain a presence where the practice of law is conducted. He is also required to notify all clients, co-counsel and opposing counsel of the suspension. The suspension remains in effect until dissolution or modification by the Supreme Court.  

Shelby County attorney Johnny Q. Rasberry Jr. was temporarily suspended from the practice of law on Dec. 2, 2015, by the Tennessee Supreme Court after Rasberry failed to respond to the board regarding a complaint of misconduct. Rasberry is immediately precluded from accepting any new cases, and he must cease representing existing clients by Jan. 1.  After that date, Rasberry cannot use any indicia of lawyer, legal assistant, or law clerk nor maintain a presence where the practice of law is conducted. He must notify all clients being represented in pending matters, co-counsel and opposing counsel of the suspension. Rasberry is also required to deliver to all clients any papers or property to which they are entitled. The suspension remains in effect until dissolution or modification by the Supreme Court.  

On Dec. 18, 2015, the state Supreme Court temporarily suspended Campbell County lawyer Conrad Mark Troutman after finding he misappropriated funds and poses a threat of substantial harm to the public. Troutman is immediately precluded from accepting any new cases, must cease representing existing clients by Jan. 17 and must notify all clients being represented in pending matters. He is also required to notify co-counsel and opposing counsel of the suspension. After Jan. 17, Troutman cannot use any indicia of lawyer, legal assistant, or law clerk nor maintain a presence where the practice of law is conducted. The suspension remains in effect until dissolution or modification by the Supreme Court.  

The state Supreme Court suspended Paul Julius Walwyn, of Nashville, on Dec. 3, 2015, for six months, with 30 days to be served as active suspension and the remainder on probation after the finding that he failed to timely file transcripts, briefs and other pleadings despite multiple orders by the Court of Criminal Appeals requiring that he do so. As a result, Walwyn was held in contempt on two occasions by the Court of Criminal Appeals. He also failed to adequately communicate with his clients. His actions were determined to violate Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4, 3.2, and 8.4 (a) and (d). Walwyn appealed the hearing panel’s findings to the Davidson County Circuit Court and the Tennessee Supreme Court, both of which affirmed the decision of the hearing panel. As conditions of probation, Walwyn must have a practice monitor, obtain six additional hours of continuing legal education, and pay the board’s costs and expenses and the court costs.

Sumner County lawyer William Douglas Hooper was suspended on Dec. 9, 2015, from the practice of law by the Tennessee Supreme Court for one year retroactive to entry of the order of temporary suspension on Dec. 17, 2014. Hooper is required to pay restitution to his former client and the cost and expense of the disciplinary proceedings.

Memphis attorney Andrewnetta Melissa Boyd was suspended by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Dec. 21, 2015, from the practice of law for one year, with 30 days to be served as active suspension and the remainder on probation. The court also ordered Boyd to pay restitution to a client after the court found that Boyd failed to act with diligence in the handling of a petition to change custody, failed to deposit an unearned fee in a trust account and failed to refund the fee when terminated prior to performing the work. Boyd’s actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.15(c), 1.16(d) and 8.4(a).

The Tennessee Supreme court suspended Davidson County attorney Edward L. Swinger on Dec. 22, 2015, from the practice of law for 22 months, retroactive to the date of his temporary suspension on Feb. 25, 2014. Swinger must make restitution totaling $1,250 to two former clients as a condition to future reinstatement. The court found that Swinger failed to act with diligence, failed to reasonably communicate with his clients, failed to promptly refund unearned fees and charged an unreasonable fee. His actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.4, 1.16(d)(6) and 8.4(a).

The state Supreme Court on Dec. 22, 2015, suspended Hawkins County attorney John Stephen Anderson from the practice of law in two disciplinary cases. In the first case, Anderson agreed to a suspension of one year and payment of restitution for two clients after the court found Anderson failed to act with reasonable diligence and promptness, failed to obtain written waivers from former clients regarding a conflict of interest, failed to reasonably communicate with his clients. Anderson also made false statements and material misrepresentations to the Court and his clients and engaged in misconduct involving dishonesty, deceit or misrepresentations. His actions were determined to violate Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4, 1.9, 3.3 and 8.4. In the second matter, the court found Anderson failed to represent his clients in a diligent and/or competent manner, failed to perform legal work for which he was hired, engaged in the unauthorized practice of law while temporarily suspended, failed to safeguard client property and made misrepresentations to his clients about the status of their cases. Anderson was suspension for five years, to be served consecutive to the suspension in the first matter and payment of restitution to 12 clients. His actions violate RCP 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.12, 1.15, 1.16, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 5.3, 5.5, 8.1 and 8.4.    

Disbarred
Harriman lawyer Spence Roberts Bruner was disbarred by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Dec. 21 and ordered to pay restitution totaling $4,250. Bruner is required pay the Board of Professional Responsibility’s costs and expenses and court costs within 90 days. The court took the action based on several complaints, including that Bruner failed to diligently represent his clients, failed to communicate with his clients and failed to respond to Disciplinary Counsel investigating this case. His actions were found to violate Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4, 8.1 and 8.4(a). In an unrelated case, Bruner was suspended from the practice of law for 90 days for disciplinary misconduct on Jan. 31, 2014.  To date, Bruner has not been reinstated from his previous suspension.