TBA Law Blog

Posted by: BPR Reports on Aug 21, 2008

Journal Issue Date: Sep 2008

Journal Name: September 2008 - Vol. 44, No. 9


Chris D. Birkel of Gainesville, Fla., was reinstated to the practice of law on July 14 after complying with Supreme Court Rule 21, which requires mandatory continuing legal education. He had been suspended in September 2003 for failure to meet CLE deadlines.

The Tennessee Supreme Court reinstated Knoxville attorney Aubrey Lewis Davis to the practice of law on July 15. Davis had been temporarily suspended on March 31 for failing to comply with a Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program agreement. On May 13, Davis petitioned the court for reinstatement. Pursuant to a hearing by the Board of Professional Responsibility, his reinstatement was recommended and approved.

Denial of Reinstatement

On July 10, the state Supreme Court denied a petition for reinstatement filed by Dennis J. Hughes of Nashville, finding that he failed to show by clear and convincing evidence that resumption of the practice of law would not be detrimental to the integrity and standing of the bar or the administration of justice, or subversive to the public interest. In 1997, Hughes was convicted of two felonies in connection with bribery of an eyewitness while he was defense counsel in a murder trial. The conviction was affirmed on appeal and Hughes served two years in jail. Immediately following the conviction, he was summarily suspended and later consented to disbarment. In October 2004, Hughes filed a petition for reinstatement. In considering the petition, the court determined that Hughes' rehabilitation efforts to date did not outweigh the seriousness of his crimes. Justice Janice Holder dissented, arguing that the majority of the court had misapplied the rules as well as its own decision in Love v. Board of Professional Responsibility, which interpreted those rules. Hughes must wait until 2011 to seek reinstatement again.


A censure declares conduct improper but does not limit the right to practice law.
Wilson County lawyer Melissa J. Anderson received a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility on July 8 following her arrest and subsequent guilty plea to three counts of driving under the influence, first offense. Anderson subsequently entered into an agreement with the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program. Anderson did not request a hearing on the matter. The board determined that her actions violated Rule 8.4(b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.


Suspension is effective 10 days after issuance, except where immediate suspension is necessary to protect the public. A suspended lawyer may not accept new clients but may continue representing current clients for 30 days. The lawyer must notify all clients, co-counsel and opposing counsel of the suspension order; return to clients any papers or property to which they are entitled; not use the indicia of lawyer, legal assistant or law clerk; and not maintain a presence where the practice of law is conducted. An attorney suspended for one year or more must prove by clear and convincing evidence that he has the moral qualifications, competency and learning required for admission to the practice of law, and that resumption of his practice would not be detrimental to the integrity and standing of the bar or the administration of justice, nor be subversive to the public interest. An attorney suspended for less than one year with conditions may resume practice after complying with those conditions. An attorney suspended for less than one year with no conditions may resume practice without reinstatement.
On July 10, the Tennessee Supreme Court suspended the law license of Williamson County lawyer P. Robert Philp for 30 days. The court also ordered him to maintain malpractice insurance when he resumes his law practice and pay the cost of his disciplinary proceeding. Based on the record of the hearing panel, the court concluded that Philp had assumed representation of a medical malpractice action without having the adequate experience or resources to competently prosecute the case. The court also found that Philp failed to diligently prepare for the case and made misrepresentations to the clients regarding the amount and payment of expenses. Taken together, his actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3 and 8.4.

On July 15, Knoxville lawyer Thomas F. Mabry was suspended for 11 months and 29 days for neglecting client matters, failing to adequately communicate with clients and, in one instance, improperly communicating with a represented party. The court, however, gave him credit for 60 days during which time he did not practice law and converted the remainder of the suspension to a probation with the following conditions: Mabry must (1) forego any and all efforts to collect unpaid legal fees from the complainant, (2) voluntarily dismiss his attorney's lien and release the complainant from all liability, (3) complete an additional six hours of ethics and professionalism continuing legal education, and (4) refrain from activity that violates the Rules of Professional Conduct. Should Mabry fail to comply with any of these conditions, he will remain suspended until he can prove he has met the requirements.

The Tennessee Supreme Court immediately and temporarily suspended Harry Todd Hammons of Nashville on July 25 after finding he failed to substantially comply with his Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Monitoring Agreement. The suspension remains in effect until dissolution or modification by the court.

Rule 9 Suspensions

The following attorneys* were suspended by the Supreme Court of Tennessee for failure to pay the 2008 annual registration fee as required by Rule 9, section 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court. Attorneys who have since complied with the rule are noted as reinstated. The court has adopted a new process this year; instead of suspending in one order all lawyers who have not paid their fees, it plans to file multiple suspension orders for smaller groups of lawyers. Additional suspensions will be announced when they become available.


The following attorneys were suspended on May 27:
Chattanooga: John Hartley Echerd, Shadrach Jerome Hale II, Jeffrey Andrew Stinnett (reinstated). Knoxville: M. Josiah Hoover III, John D. Barry Tarrant. Memphis: Jewel Guy Boozer, Kathleen Lynn Chambers, Margaret E. Beth Cocke, Matthew Kristian Eggleston, Lisa B. Harris, LaTrena Davis Ingram, Thomas Mark Lee, Alvin Quincey Malone (reinstated), John Miller Moore, Don G. Owens III (reinstated), Robert Joseph Ross II, Lauren Douglas Shelton, Joshua David Thomas (reinstated), Matthew Anthony Vega, Angela Lenise Williams (reinstated; relocated to Silver Spring, Md.).


The following attorneys were suspended on June 30:
Alabama: Diane Talbert Hutchins, Gerald B. Taylor Jr. Arkansas: Kenneth Alan Harper. California: Robert Louis Booker. Colorado: Jan Holmes Crosby. Florida: Douglas Gerard Brehm (reinstated), Charles Gilbert Burr III, Gregorio Antonio Francis, Matthew Peter Huggins, Bobby Arnold McGee, John Michael Moody II, Sue Porter. Georgia: Morton H. Aronson (reinstated), Jeffrey Walker Frazier, William Randolph Matz, Douglas Kent Shelton, James Roy Weathersby. Illinois: Michael J. Shim. Kentucky: David Christian Blandford, John Bacon Brown. Louisiana: Jimmy Don Kelly Jr. Minnesota: Karl Scott Dahlquist, Sherril Ann Gautreaux. Mississippi: Stephen M. Crampton, Lauren J. Hutchins. Missouri: Winsome Ann Henry. New Jersey: William P. Van Wyke (reinstated). New York: Terrence Matthew Kelly, Azura Dea Mason. Ohio: Jonathan David Wood. Oklahoma: Anna Panter Johnson. South Carolina: Ellen Hassell Goodwin. Texas: William Henry Barfield, Charles Steven Moore (reinstated; relocated to Nashville).

* Mohamad Adel Akbik of New York was incorrectly suspended due to an error by the Board of Professional Responsibility. The Supreme Court issued an order on May 3, 2012, vacating the suspension nunc pro tunc back to the June 2008 suspension date.

Compiled by Stacey Shrader from information obtained from the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Tennessee Supreme Court