TBA Law Blog


Posted by: BPR Reports on Jun 1, 2018

Journal Issue Date: Jun 2018

Journal Name: June 2018 - Vol. 54, No. 6

Disability Inactive

The law licenses of these attorneys were transferred to disability inactive status and they cannot practice law while on this status. Each 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:

  • Williamson County lawyer Howard Frederick Ford, April 18, pursuant to Section 27.4 of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9;
  • Washington County lawyer Ivan Monroe Lilly, April 30, pursuant to Section 27.3 of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9;
  • Greene County attorney John T. Milburn Rogers, April 25, pursuant to Section 27.4 of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9.

Disciplinary

Disbarred
The Supreme Court of Tennessee on May 7 disbarred Montgomery County lawyer Carrie Leigh Gasaway and ordered her to pay restitution in the amount of $6,500 and costs of the disciplinary proceeding. She was previously disbarred on Oct. 15, 2015, and Oct. 29, 2017. Gasaway failed to comply with the terms and conditions of a prior public censure issued on April 13, 2016, for failing to provide competent and diligent representation and reasonably communicate with two clients, failing to account for funds held in trust, failing to deliver the trust funds to her client and failing to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility concerning the disciplinary complaint. In the second disciplinary matter, she received a retainer fee but failed to provide professional services, adequately communicate with her client during her client’s military deployment or promptly refund unearned fees after being terminated. Gasaway’s misconduct violated the Rules of Professional Conduct 1.4, communication; 1.5, fees; and 8.4(d), misconduct.

Suspended

Arthur Wayne Henry of Loudon County was suspended from the practice of law on April 30 for one year and one day, by order of the Tennessee Supreme Court. In one case, Henry agreed to accept a settlement offer without advising his clients. He received a $5,000 settlement check but did not advise his clients. The settlement check was never cashed. Henry did not respond to an order requiring him to show cause why an order of compromise and settlement had not been entered and the case was dismissed without prejudice. In a second case, Henry did not diligently pursue a divorce petition or adequately communicate with his client.  In a third case, Henry did not diligently pursue a post-divorce matter or adequately communicate with his client. Henry’s ethical misconduct violates the Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2, scope of representation; 1.3, diligence; 1.4, communication; 1.15, safekeeping property and funds; 3.2, expediting litigation; 8.1, bar admission and disciplinary matters; and 8.4, misconduct.

Effective April 19, the Supreme Court of Tennessee suspended Jaramiah Justin Hruska from the practice of law for two years, with 30 days active suspension and the remainder served on probation. Hruska must pay the Board of Professional Responsibility’s costs and expenses and court costs within 90 days. On Nov. 22, 2016, a petition for discipline was filed against Hruska, and he later entered a conditional guilty plea subject to conditions that he comply with the recommendations of his health care professional and retain a practice monitor for the duration of his probation. The complaints alleged that Hruska pled guilty to the misdemeanor offense of patronizing prostitution for which he received judicial diversion, and for making inappropriate comments to the wife of one of his clients. Hruska’s conduct violated the Rules of Professional Conduct 8.4 (a) and (b), misconduct.

Censured

Sumner County lawyer Charles Rufus Bobbitt received a public censure on April 16 from the Board of Professional Responsibility. Bobbitt represented a client in seeking modification of a parenting plan. Bobbitt did not affix a proposed parenting plan and verified statement of income to his petition, as required by statute. The court entered an order requiring Bobbitt to correct these deficiencies. He failed to do so, which resulted in the dismissal of the petition. Additionally, Bobbitt failed to file a timely reply to opposing counsel’s counter-petition, resulting in entry of a default judgment. He also failed to maintain good communication with his client throughout the representation. Bobbitt violated the Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, competence; 1.3, diligence; 1.4(a), communication; 3.2, expediting litigation; and 3.4(c), disobedience to an obligation under the rules of a tribunal.

Arthur Wayne Henry, a Loudon County attorney, received a public censure on April 16 from the Board of Professional Responsibility. On Sept. 21, 2017, Henry was retained to represent a client in a domestic case in which she desired to relocate with her child to another state. On Dec. 4, 2017, the client discovered that Henry had taken no action to file a petition to relocate or to answer the opposing party’s petition. Henry did refund the client’s fees after she confronted him about the inactivity on the case. Henry violated the Rule of Professional Conduct 1.3, diligence; 1.4, communication; and 3.2, expediting litigation.

Davidson County lawyer Robert Elliott McGuire received a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Tennessee Supreme Court on April 10. In October 2013, McGuire made statements in the rebuttal closing argument of a criminal prosecution that referenced material that had been excluded by the trial court in a pretrial order. Further, the statements were inappropriate, served no legitimate purpose, and resulted in reversal of the conviction by the Court of Criminal Appeals. McGuire violated the Rule of Professional Conduct 3.4(c), disobey rules of tribunal; and 8.4(d), conduct prejudicial to administration of justice.

Knox County lawyer Jere F. Ownby received a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility on April 11. Ownby’s law license was suspended on July 7, 2017, but he continued to practice law for three business days after the suspension. In one client matter, Ownby failed to notify the court or opposing counsel of his suspension, and he failed to withdraw from the representation of his client at any time. Three months after his suspension, the court set a status conference and Ownby did not appear or provide any response to the court or opposing counsel. This conduct was deemed by the board to be prejudicial to the administration of justice. Ownby has violated the Rules of Professional Conduct 5.5, unauthorized practice of law; 8.4(d), prejudice to the administration of justice; and 8.4(g), knowingly failing to comply with court order when attorney is a party.

Wilson County attorney Todd Allen Tressler received a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility on April 16. Tressler hired a real estate broker in connection with the purchase of commercial realty, but terminated the broker’s services and hired an immediate family member as successor broker after the original broker’s work was substantially completed. The closing documents and contractual agreement between Tressler and the two brokers granted the original broker the full commission at closing and provided that the division of the commission would be subsequently negotiated between the two brokers. Contrary to this agreement, Tressler refused to forward payment of the full commission to the original broker, and instead attempted to negotiate a division of the commission on behalf of the successor broker. Tressler violated the Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(c), misconduct.

Sevier County lawyer Andrew Nicholas Wilson received a public censure on April 16 from the Board of Professional Responsibility. Wilson represented a client whose case was moved from state court to federal district court. Wilson was not admitted to practice in federal district court and failed to respond to the court’s request to file a motion to appear pro hac vice, to the court’s show cause order, or to the court’s order to appear. Wilson was accordingly removed as counsel of record and reprimanded by the district court. Wilson violated the Rule of Professional Conduct 5.5, unauthorized practice of law; 3.4(c), disobey obligation under rules of tribunal; and 8.4(d), conduct prejudicial to 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.