TBA Law Blog


Posted by: BPR Reports on Aug 19, 2011

Journal Issue Date: Jun 2011

Journal Name: June 2011 - Vol. 47, No. 6

Reinstated

A temporary suspension imposed on Davidson County lawyer Ivan Omar Lopez was dissolved on April 1. Lopez was suspended on March 3 for noncompliance with a Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program monitoring agreement. That same day he filed an answer and petition for dismissal of the action. On March 29, a hearing panel of the Board of Professional Responsibility recommended that the suspension be dissolved. The court agreed and reinstated Lopez. In addition, it directed him to reimburse the board and the court for the costs of the proceeding.

Nashville lawyer William H. Burford was reinstated to practice law on April 18 after voluntarily requesting inactive status in 2006. Burford filed a petition for reinstatement, which was granted by the court.

Roane County lawyer Spence R. Bruner was reinstated to the practice of law on April 25.  He had been suspended on March 25 for noncompliance with a Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program monitoring agreement. He requested reinstatement on March 29. A hearing panel of the Board of Professional Responsibility recommended that the suspension be dissolved, and the Supreme Court agreed.

Memphis lawyer Jessica Nicole Manley was reinstated to the practice of law on April 28 after complying with requirements for continuing legal education. She had been suspended on Sept. 4, 2009, for failing to meet 2008 CLE requirements.

The following attorneys have been reinstated to the practice of law after complying with Section 20 of Supreme Court Rule 9, which requires the payment of annual registration fees:
Matthew Alden Boyd, Atlanta, Ga.; James Alvin Carraway Jr., Germantown; Jan Holmes Crosby, Colorado Springs, Colo.; Charles Richard Dorroh, Memphis; Dalen L. P. Farmer, Nashville; Thomas E. Looney, Crossville; Jessica Nicole Manley, Memphis; James D. Mogridge, Thaxton, Miss.; Keith Von Moore, Germantown; Cynthia Marie Nienaber, Henry; David Radke, Lufkin, Texas; Brian Keith Roberts, Murfreesboro; Kristine A. Snow, Waupun, Wis.; Brigitte Tubbs-Jones, Murfreesboro; and Jack Case Wilson, Nashville.

Censured

On April 12, Brentwood attorney Connie Lynn Reguli was censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court. A hearing panel found that Reguli was guilty of ethical misconduct for statements she made about Judge Robert E. Lee Davies in an appellate brief, which were deemed “impertinent and unprofessional” by the Tennessee Court of Appeals. The court found that her actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 8.2 and 8.4(a).

Hamilton County lawyer Charles Edward Stanbery Jr. was censured by the Board of Professional Responsibility on April 18. Stanbery was hired to file a probate matter for a client. After he opened the estate, he provided no other legal services, closed his office and could not be located. The client had to finalize the probate matter himself. In addition, Stanbery failed to respond to the board regarding a complaint filed by the client. The board found that these actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5 and 8.1(b).

On April 27, the Board of Professional Responsibility issued a censure for Lawrence County lawyer Charles Matthew Bates with regard to two cases. In one case, Bates represented a client in a divorce case. He entered an agreed order setting the case for trial and then settled the case without the client’s approval. Further, he stated that his client appeared before the court during the final hearing when in fact the client was out of state and unaware that a hearing had occurred. The board found he was not diligent in handling the representation, that he failed to reasonably communicate with his client about the case, and that he failed to properly supervise his assistant, who was not relaying messages from the client and who had signed pleadings without approval. In a second case, Bates represented a client in a personal injury matter. The board found that he failed to properly supervise his assistant, who did not procure proper documentation from the client and corresponded with the client and opposing counsel without authority. It also concluded that Bates failed to reasonably communicate with the client, which caused an unnecessary delay in the case. The board found that these actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 3.2, 3.3 and 5.3.

On April 27, Sullivan County lawyer Steven Carl Frazier was censured for failing to communicate with and take action on behalf of clients who had retained him to file a complaint for breach of contract related to a lease purchase agreement of real property. The Board of Professional Responsibility also found that Frazier failed to prepare a complaint and communicate with opposing counsel. The board found that these actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4 and 8.4(a) and (d). It also noted that Frazier had a prior public discipline of a similar nature.

On April 27, Wilson County lawyer Mark W. Henderson was censured for his actions while representing a client in a divorce action. At some point in the representation, Henderson realized that the client had become dissatisfied with his representation and agreed in writing to refund $2,000 if the client was not satisfied with his work in an upcoming deposition. After the deposition, the client expressed dissatisfaction with Henderson’s work and requested the refund. However, Henderson failed to abide by the agreement. He later agreed to participate in a fee dispute process at the request of the Board of Professional Responsibility but then failed to cooperate in the fee dispute process or respond to correspondence from the board. His actions were found to have violated Rules of Professional Conduct 4.4, 8.1(b) and 8.4(a) and (d). In imposing the censure, the board also noted that Henderson had a prior public discipline of a similar nature.

Alabama lawyer Daniel M. Hurst, an attorney on inactive status in Tennessee, was censured on April 27. Hurst was formerly licensed to practice law in Tennessee, but took inactive status in January 2005. While on inactive status he is not authorized to practice law in the state. During this time, however, Hurst became involved in assisting a relative in the litigation of a will. He volunteered to draft pleadings for a legal services attorney if the attorney would represent the relative. Hurst later prepared pleadings on behalf of the relative giving the appearance that the relative had filed the pleadings on her own. On two separate occasions, Hurst also sent an ex parte letter to the presiding judge in an attempt to sway the course of the litigation in his relative’s favor. In addition, he made threatening and reckless statements questioning the integrity of the presiding judge. Finally, he refused to adequately respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility during the disciplinary investigation. The board found that these actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2(d), 3.3, 3.4(c), 3.5(b), 4.1(a), 4.4(a), 5.5, 8.1(b), 8.2(a) and 8.4(a)(b)(c) and (d).

Tullahoma lawyer Robert Thomas Carter was censured on April 28 for failing to diligently represent a client in a criminal sentencing case. Carter appealed the sentence but failed to include the sentencing hearing transcript. He also had not advised his client of the necessity of having a court reporter present for the sentencing hearing. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the client’s sentence based on these failures. The Board of Professional Responsibility found that Carter’s actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4 and 8.4.

Suspended

On April 6, Nashville lawyer Bobby Dean Davis was temporarily suspended from the practice of law for failing to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility concerning a complaint of misconduct.

Mount Juliet lawyer Mark Wesley Henderson was suspended by the Tennessee Supreme Court for two years on April 15. In January 2010, a petition for discipline was filed against Henderson. The hearing panel investigating the case found that he failed to (1) file an answer to a countersuit, (2) respond to discovery requests despite promising opposing counsel that the responses had been mailed, (3) properly communicate with a client about the status of the case and a request for billing statements, and (4) properly withdraw from the case when terminated  by the client. The court found that these actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 8.1 and 8.4.

In addition to imposing the suspension, the court directed Henderson to pay the client $950 in restitution. The court also noted that Henderson is serving a six-month suspension imposed on Jan. 12, which remains in effect.

On April 15, the state Supreme Court suspended Sullivan County lawyer Kristen E. Morrell for one year. In August 2010, a petition for discipline was filed against Morrell. The hearing panel investigating the case found that she failed to appear in court on behalf of clients, abandoned her law practice shortly after accepting fees from new clients, and promised to refund the fees but did not. The court found that these actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.16, 8.1 and 8.4. In addition to imposing the suspension, the court directed Morrell to pay restitution to four clients and made those payments a condition of reinstatement. The court also noted Morrell is currently serving administrative suspensions for noncompliance with continuing legal education requirements and failure to pay annual registration fees to the Board of Professional Responsibility.

Knox County lawyer Michael S. Shipwash was suspended from the practice of law on April 15 for one year, with all time probated if the following conditions are met: he must take 10 extra hours of CLE, hire a practice monitor, and pay restitution to a former client in the amount of $141,000. The Tennessee Supreme Court found that Shipwash violated disciplinary rules by failing to competently and diligently represent a client, failing to protect a client under a disability from abuse from her fiduciary, and taking an unreasonable fee. The court found that these actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.5, 1.8 and 1.14. In addition to imposing the suspension, the court ordered Shipwash to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.