TBA Law Blog


Posted by: BPR Reports on Mar 1, 2018

Journal Issue Date: Mar 2018

Journal Name: March 2018 - Vol. 54, No. 3

REINSTATED

The Supreme Court of Tennessee reinstated Arkansas attorney Scott Douglas Fletcher to the practice of law on Jan. 18. Fletcher was suspended for a period of five years by order of the Arkansas Supreme Court on Sept. 29, 2011, and his license in Tennessee was subsequently suspended on Feb. 23, 2012.  Fletcher filed a petition for reinstatement, which a hearing panel recommended after determining he possessed the moral qualifications required for admission to practice law in Tennessee, and his resumption of the practice of law would not be detrimental to the integrity and standing of the bar or the administration of justice, and would not be subversive to the public interest.

Disability Inactive
The law license of Blount County lawyer Francis Duncan Gibson III was transferred to disability inactive status on Jan. 11, pursuant to Section 27.3 of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9. Gibson cannot practice law while on disability inactive status. He may return to the practice of law after reinstatement by the Tennessee Supreme Court upon showing of clear and convincing evidence that the disability has been removed and he is fit to resume the practice of law.

DISCIPLINARY

Suspended
The Supreme Court of Tennessee on Jan. 11 temporarily suspended Davidson County attorney Carla L. Arevalo from the practice of law for failing to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility regarding a complaint of misconduct. Section 12.3 of Supreme Court Rule 9 provides for the immediate summary suspension of an attorney’s license to practice law in cases of an attorney’s failure to respond to the board regarding a complaint of misconduct. Arevalo was immediately precluded from accepting any new clients or cases and must cease representing all existing clients by Feb. 10.

On Jan. 22, the Supreme Court of Tennessee suspended Hamilton County lawyer Lisa Zarzour Bowman from the practice of law for one year with 30 days being an active suspension and the remainder served on probation with the appointment of a practice monitor. In addition, she must pay the board’s costs in the disciplinary proceeding. On Aug. 24, 2016, a petition for discipline containing one complaint was filed against Bowman alleging lack of diligence, lack of communication and incompetent representation. After a trial upon the merits, the hearing panel found she failed to timely prepare and file documents with the trial court for a period of nearly 15 months, failed to reasonably communicate with her client regarding changes made in the final decree of divorce previously approved by the client, and filed a final decree of divorce not approved by the client. Her conduct violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, diligence, 1.4, communication, 3.2, expediting litigation and 8.4, misconduct.

Hawkins County attorney Daniel Graham Boyd was suspended on Jan. 10 from the practice of law for three years, with 120 days active suspension and the remainder on probation. The action is the result of two complaints of misconduct. In one matter, Boyd represented a widow concerning her husband’s estate. Over approximately five years, Boyd made false statements to the daughters of his client, leading them to believe that he was taking actions to further their mother’s case when he was not. In another matter, Boyd represented an employee in a workers’ compensation claim. Other than filing a request for assistance, he took no action for about five years, and he made false statements to his client over that period, leading her to believe that he was taking actions when he was not. Boyd’s conduct violates Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, diligence, 4.1(a), truthfulness in statements to others, and 8.4(a) and (c), misconduct.

The Tennessee Supreme Court suspended Monroe County attorney Barry Keith Maxwell from the practice of law on Jan. 22 for 75 days. Upon completion of his suspension, he will be placed on probation for one year, subject to the condition that he submit to an evaluation by the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP) and comply with any monitoring requirements TLAP deems necessary. Maxwell must pay the Board of Professional Responsibility’s costs and expenses and court costs within 90 days. A complaint filed in August 2015 alleged that Maxwell used a portion of a client’s cash settlement for a personal expense believing that he could earn that money back quickly to repay his client. He advised his client of this after using the funds; however, repayment was delayed as Maxwell was subsequently suspended for non-payment of his annual registration dues. His misconduct violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.15, safekeeping property and 8.4(a), misconduct.

The Supreme Court on Jan. 26 temporarily suspended Carter County lawyer Gregory Scott Norris from the practice of law upon finding that he poses a threat of substantial harm to the public. Section 12.3 of Supreme Court Rule 9 provides for the immediate summary suspension of an attorney’s license to practice law if an attorney poses a threat of substantial harm to the public. Norris was immediately precluded from accepting any new cases, and was to cease representing existing clients by Feb. 28. This suspension remains in effect until dissolution or modification by the Supreme Court.

On Jan. 10, the Supreme Court of Tennessee temporarily suspended Davidson County lawyer Patrick Brocklin Parks from the practice of law, upon finding Parks misappropriated funds and poses a threat of substantial harm to the public. Section 12.3 of Supreme Court Rule 9 provides for the immediate summary suspension of an attorney’s license to practice law if an attorney poses a threat of substantial harm to the public. He was immediately precluded from accepting any new cases, and he was to have ceased representing existing clients by Feb. 9. This suspension remains in effect until dissolution or modification by the Supreme Court.

On Jan. 26, the Supreme Court of Tennessee temporarily suspended Shelby County lawyer Keisha Moses Richardson from the practice of law upon finding that she failed to comply with an order requiring participation in an evaluation. Failure to comply with the order may serve as the basis for temporary suspension pursuant to Section 12.3 of Supreme Court Rule 9. Richardson was immediately precluded from accepting any new cases, and she was to have ceased representing existing clients by Feb. 25. This suspension remains in effect until dissolution or modification by the Supreme Court.

Censured
Hawkins County lawyer John Stephen Anderson received a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Tennessee Supreme Court on Jan. 11. A client hired Anderson to represent her in a car accident. Though Anderson filed a lawsuit, he did not timely serve process on the defendant.  For three years, Anderson falsely told his client he was in the process of trying to settle the case. The lawsuit was dismissed by the court. Because Anderson has received prior public discipline for similar conduct during the same time period, he was publicly censured for these violations. Anderson is in violation of Rules 1.1, competence, 1.3, diligence, 1.4, communication, 1.16, termination of representation, 3.2, expediting litigation, 8.1, disciplinary matters, 8.4(c), conduct involving dishonesty, and 8.4(d), prejudice to the administration of justice.

On Jan. 19, Marti Lee Kaufman of Shelby County received a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Tennessee Supreme Court. Kaufman practiced law for seven business days after her law license was administratively suspended for non-compliance with continuing legal education requirements. A public censure is a rebuke and warning to the attorney, but does not affect the attorney’s ability to practice law. Kaufman is in violation of Rule 5.5, unauthorized practice of law, of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

On Jan. 10, Montgomery County lawyer Robert Hamm Moyer received a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility. Moyer was found to have engaged in a pattern of collecting partial fees from clients in Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings and requiring the clients to make installment payments on the remainder of his fees after bankruptcy petitions had been filed. He failed to advise his clients that they had no legal obligation to pay the remainder of his fees after their bankruptcy petitions were filed. In certain cases, when clients failed to comply with their installment payments, he filed civil actions against them after their debts were discharged in bankruptcy in violation of federal law. Additionally, in his collections actions, Moyer requested a one-third attorney fee above and beyond the amount alleged to be owed while acting in a pro se capacity. Moyer has violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, competence, 1.4, communication, 1.5, fees, 1.7, conflict of interest, 1.9, duties to former clients, 3.1, meritorious claims, and 8.4 (a) and (d), misconduct.

Shelby County lawyer Al H. Thomas received a public censure on Jan. 11 from the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Tennessee Supreme Court. Thomas had failed to pay court costs in a civil action. When the court costs remained unpaid after the dismissal of the client’s lawsuit, the court entered an order requiring him to appear and show cause, if any, why judgment should not be entered for payment of the costs. Thomas failed to appear before the court or provide notice that he was unable to appear. Thomas has violated Rules of Professional Conduct 3.4(c), knowing disobedience of an obligation under the rules of a tribunal, and 8.4(d), conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.

Administrative Suspensions

Notice of attorneys suspended for, and reinstated from, administrative violations — including failure to pay the Board of Professional Responsibility fee, file the 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.


Compiled by Katharine Heriges 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.