Licensure & Discipline

DISCIPLINARY

Censured
Montgomery County lawyer Travis Nathaniel Meeks was publicly censured by the state Supreme Court on Feb. 8. The court took the action after Meeks falsely stated in a letter to an adversary attorney that he anticipated calling an expert witness, a certified public accountant, who would testify that his adversary’s expert witness, also a CPA, was engaged in criminal conduct. As a result, the trial was postponed and the adversary’s expert witness retained an attorney. The court found that his actions violated Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct 4.1(a), 4.4(a)(1) and 8.4(a), (c) and (d).

Suspended
The Tennessee Supreme Court temporarily suspended Davidson County lawyer Quenton I. White from the practice of law on Feb. 9 upon finding that White misappropriated funds and poses a threat of substantial harm to the public. White, a former U.S. attorney for Middle Tennessee, was immediately precluded from accepting any new cases and was required to cease representing existing clients by March 11. After that date, he may not use any indicia of lawyer, legal assistant, or law clerk nor maintain a presence where the practice of law is conducted. This suspension remains in effect until dissolution or modification by the Supreme Court.

Shelby County lawyer Michael C. Skouteris was temporarily suspended from the practice of law by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Feb. 11. The court took the action upon finding Skouteris misappropriated funds and poses a threat of substantial harm to the public. He was immediately precluded from accepting any new cases, and was required to cease representing existing clients by March 13. After that date he was barred from using any indicia of lawyer, legal assistant, or law clerk or maintain a presence where the practice of law is conducted. This suspension remains in effect until dissolution or modification by the Supreme Court.

On Feb. 16, the state Supreme Court temporarily suspended John Martin Drake of Davidson County from the practice of law upon finding Drake failed to respond to the Board regarding a complaint of misconduct. Drake was immediately precluded from accepting any new cases and was required to stop representing existing clients by March 18. After that date, Drake was not to use any indicia of lawyer, legal assistant or law clerk or maintain a presence where the practice of law is conducted. This suspension is immediate and remains in effect until dissolution or modification by the Supreme Court.

The Tennessee Supreme Court temporarily suspended Shelby County lawyer Keith Lamonte Dobbs from the practice of law on Feb. 29. The court took the action upon finding Dobbs misappropriated funds and represents a threat of substantial harm to the public. Dobbs was immediately precluded from accepting any new cases and was required to cease representing existing clients after March 30. After that date, Dobbs was not to use any indicia of lawyer, legal assistant or law clerk or maintain a presence where the practice of law is conducted. This suspension remains in effect until dissolution or modification by the Supreme Court.  

Clarksville lawyer John Edward Herbison was suspended from the practice of law by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Feb. 2. Herbison accepted a non-refundable fee of $7,500 and thereafter failed to prepare an application for clemency and reasonably communicate with his clients. He misled his clients to believe the application for clemency was being prepared and would be delivered to the clients. Upon learning that the application had not been prepared, the clients terminated Herbison and requested a refund; he failed to refund the unearned fee. The court found that his actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.16 and 8.4(a). Herbison is suspended for two years, with 60 days to be served as an active suspension and indefinitely thereafter until restitution, in the amount of $7,500, is paid to his former clients.    

The state Supreme Court on Feb. 4 suspended Knoxville lawyer Robert Lee Vogel for one year. The suspension was effective Feb. 14. The court took the action after Vogel engaged in sexual relations with a woman he was appointed to represent. The woman had been charged with felony drug offenses in federal court. The court found that Vogel exploited his fiduciary relationship with his client to further his own personal interests. In another case, Vogel withdrew from representation of a client, he wrote a letter to his former client explaining his reasons for withdrawing and sent a copy to the judge presiding over her case, thereby revealing confidential information. The action was a violation of his duties to his former client and resulted in the judge recusing himself from the case. The court found that Vogel’s actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.7(a)(2), 1.9(c) and 8.4(a). A hearing panel recommended that Vogel be suspended for 12 months, with 30 days served on active suspension and the remainder on probation with conditions, but the state Supreme Court found that the panel’s punishment was inadequate and modified the judgment of the hearing panel to impose a one-year active suspension.
    
Disbarred
Knox County lawyer Billy J. Reed was disbarred from the practice of law on Feb 2, by the Tennessee Supreme Court based upon two complaints filed against Reed. In the first complaint, Reed accepted $15,000 to represent a client in a will contest then, over the course of four years, he did little legal work, failed to communicate and failed to appear at the trial. He later failed to refund unearned fees. In the second complaint, Reed accepted a $1,500 fee to file an emergency child custody proceeding, but never filed the emergency petition. He also failed to reasonably communicate with his client, misrepresented the petition had been filed and fraudulently required the client to reimburse him $200 for filing fees. He later abandoned his clients and his practice without proper or sufficient notice to his clients. The court found that Reed’s conduct violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4, 1.16, 3.2, 8.1(b) and 8.4 (a), (c) and (d). Reed is required to make restitution to two former clients, pay the board’s costs and expenses, and the court costs.

On Feb. 3, the state Supreme Court disbarred Maury County lawyer Matthew Bastian after he abandoned his client and his law practice without proper notice to his client, did not provide the professional services for which he was retained and failed to refund unearned fees.

Bastian received a $4,500 retainer in 2012 to prosecute an employment discrimination complaint, but later failed to appear at three separate case management conferences or respond to an order from the court. He also failed to respond to the petition for discipline or appear at trial. The court found that Bastian’s conduct violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.16, 3.2, 8.1, and 8.4. Bastion is required to pay restitution to a former client and the board’s costs in the disciplinary action.

The Tennessee Supreme Court disbarred Memphis lawyer George Ernest Skouteris Jr. on Feb. 9. Skouteris represented a husband and wife as a result of an automobile accident. In 2010, he agreed to a settlement with insurers despite the fact that he did not have his clients’ authority to agree to the settlements nor did he tell them about the settlements. He signed their names to the settlement checks without their knowledge or consent and deposited them to his trust account. He then misappropriated the settlement funds.

Skouteris also avoided his clients’ efforts to communicate with him over the years and then, in 2014, he led them to believe their lawsuit was ongoing. The court found that his actions violate Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2(a), 1.4, 1.15(a) and (d), 8.1(b), and 8.4(a), (b), (c)
and (g).


Compiled by Amelia Ferrell Knisely 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.

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