Licensure & Dicipline

REINSTATED

Williamson County lawyer Emily Pouzar Jenkins was reinstated to the practice of law effective Feb. 1. Jenkins sought reinstatement after being on inactive status since May 4, 2005. She filed a petition for reinstatement on Feb. 1. The Board of Professional Responsibility found that the petition was satisfactory and recommended that the court reinstate her. The court issued the order on Feb. 8.
 On Feb. 21, Davidson County lawyer Ashely Denise Preston was reinstated to the practice of law, retroactive to Feb. 23, 2016. Preston was suspended by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Oct. 20, 2017, for four years, with two years to be served on active suspension.

Davidson County lawyer Joanne Fellers Sowell was reinstated to the practice of law effective Feb. 14, the date on which she filed a petition seeking reinstatement from inactive status. Sowell had been placed on inactive status on May 5, 1997. The Board of Professional Responsibility found that her petition was satisfactory and recommended that the court reinstate her. The court issued the order on Feb. 25.

DISCIPLINARY

Disbarred

Sullivan County lawyer Howard Robert Clyde Orfield was disbarred by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Feb. 19. The court also directed Orfield to pay $1,000 in restitution to a client and consult with the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program to determine if a monitoring agreement is appropriate. Orfield previously was suspended in 2017 for three years, with 90 days to be served on active suspension and the rest on probation. He has not been reinstated from that suspension. In imposing the disbarment, the court found that Orfield ceased communicating with a client and failed to perform services for which he was paid. Though he later offered to refund the full balance of the fee paid by the client, he has not done so. The court determined that his actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.16, 3.2, 8.1 and 8.4 (a) and (d).

Suspended

On March 3, the Supreme Court of Tennessee suspended Wilson County lawyer Daphne Michelle Davis from the practice of law for three years and directed her to pay restitution of $1,500 to a former client. The court acted based on three complaints. In the first complaint, the court found that Davis missed a court date in general sessions court resulting in a $25,151.50 default judgment against her client. After appealing the case to circuit court, she unilaterally cancelled a mediation and failed to inform her client of the new hearing date. Then on the day of the hearing, Davis failed to appear and the appeal was dismissed. She then did not inform her client about the dismissal. In the second case, Davis promised to refund a fee to her client but failed to do so until the client filed a complaint with the Board of Professional Responsibility. Finally, in a third case, Davis was appointed to represent a client in criminal court who had entered into a diversion program. As a part of the probation, the client was required to pay $1,968.50 in court costs. The client requested Davis’ assistance in seeking a waiver or reduction of those costs. Davis sent the client a questionnaire to complete and return, which the client did. Thereafter, Davis ceased communicating with her client and did not respond to inquiries by the Board of Professional Responsibility. The court determined her actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2(a), 1.3, 1.4, 1.5 (a) (b) and (f), 1.16 (d) and (f), 3.2, 8.1 (b) and 8.4 (a) (b) (c) and (d).

The Tennessee Supreme Court suspended Williamson County lawyer Matthew David Dunn from the practice of law on Feb. 14 for failing to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility regarding a misconduct complaint. The suspension will remain in effect until dissolved or modified by the court.

On Feb. 8, the Tennessee Supreme Court suspended Shelby County lawyer Earl Frank Johnson from the practice of law for six months and required that he submit to an evaluation by the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program. The court acted based on a complaint of misconduct alleging Johnson appeared in general sessions court on behalf of a client when his law license was administratively suspended. Johnson entered a conditional guilty plea admitting to the misconduct. The court determined that his actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 5.5, 8.1 and 8.4 (a) and (d). Johnson was suspended in August 2012 for non compliance with CLE requirements. In November 2012, he was suspended again for non compliance with mandatory IOLTA reporting requirements and non payment of the annual registration fee. To date, he has not requested, nor been granted, reinstatement from these suspensions.

Sumner County lawyer Randy Paul Lucas was suspended from the practice of law on Feb. 8 for three years, with six months to be served on active suspension and the remainder to be served on probation. The court also directed Lucas to engage a practice monitor during the probationary period. The action was taken after the court found that Lucas agreed to represent a client in a personal injury case but failed to take any action on the client’s behalf, thereby allowing the statute of limitations in the case to expire. The court also found that Lucas failed to maintain consistent communication with and made repeated misrepresentations to his client. The court determined that these actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.8 and 8.4 (a) (c) and (d). Lucas entered a conditional guilty plea in the matter and made a payment to the affected client as compensation for his loss.

On Feb. 27, the Tennessee Supreme Court denied the request of Davidson County lawyer Brian Phillip Manookian for dissolution of a temporary suspension. Manookian was suspended from the practice of law on Sept. 21, 2018, after the court found that he posed a threat of substantial harm to the public. Manookian filed two petitions for dissolution, one in September 2018 and one in January 2019. After holding hearings on both requests, the Board of Professional Responsibility recommended that the motions be denied. In both cases, the court adopted the board’s recommendation.

Censured

Davidson County lawyer Terry Renease Clayton was censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Feb. 19. The court found that in an appellate brief and during oral arguments representing plaintiffs in a personal injury case, Clayton attributed a statement to the defense counsel that did not appear in the record. The court determined that these actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 3.1 and 3.3 (a) (1).

Blount County lawyer Kimberly Diane Russell was censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Feb. 19. In addition to imposing the discipline, the court directed Russell to engage a practice monitor at her own expense and meet with the monitor on a monthly basis for one year to review basic office procedures. The court found that while administratively suspended for CLE non compliance, Russell accepted a flat fee to prepare divorce documents for a pro se divorce and failed to enter into a written agreement for the non refundable fee. Russell agreed to a conditional guilty plea acknowledging her conduct violated Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct 1.4 (a) (5), 1.5, 5.5 and 8.4(a).

ADMINISTRATIVE SUSPENSIONS

Notice of attorneys suspended for, and reinstated from, administrative violations – including failure to pay the Board of Professional Responsibility licensing and inactive fees, file the required 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.

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