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Disciplinary Actions

By William W. “Tripp” Hunt, III

Disciplinary Actions (December 2003 – June 2004):


Disbarments And Suspensions

Shawn M. Ashcraft (Rutherford County) — Mr. Ashcraft’s law license was suspended for 20 months as a result of her misappropriation of client funds.

Javier Michael Bailey (Shelby County) — Mr. Bailey received an actual suspension of 30 days followed by a probation of 4 years and 11 months. This suspension was in addition to a prior suspension. He had continued to practice law during the first suspension. He was not in compliance with his TLAP contract. He also allowed a confidential document under his control to be produced to a lawyer who was suing his medical employer.

Craig Joseph Bartel (Decatur County) — Mr. Bartel was disbarred based upon a confidential affidavit which he filed with the Supreme Court pursuant to Section 15.1, Rule 9, Rules of the Supreme Court.

Michael A. Belz (Shelby County) — Mr. Belz’s law license was suspended for one year. He neglected legal matters entrusted to him by a client, failed to represent a client with reasonable diligence and promptness and to keep this client reasonably informed about the status of his case and failed to cooperate with the Board or Disciplinary Counsel regarding this complaint of misconduct.

Robert D. Benson (Williamson County) — Mr. Benson was disbarred. He endorsed without authorization a check payable to the bankruptcy estate of a client for both the client and the Trustee. He failed to comply with the Bankruptcy Court’s order that he turn over these funds to the Trustee. In another case, he further failed to refund an overpayment of his fee and prepayment of costs.

Christopher Robin Fox (Davidson County) — Mr. Fox was disbarred for misappropriating funds from clients and estates, commingling personal and client funds, continuing to practice law while being temporarily suspended, neglect, failure to turn over client files and failing to notify clients and opposing counsel of his temporary suspension.

Charles F. Galbreath (Davidson County) — Mr. Galbreath’s law license was suspended for 30 days. He filed a frivolous counterclaim in a lawsuit filed against him personally. In an attempt to force the judge to recuse himself, he further threatened to report the judge in the case to the Board of Judicial Conduct as well as to discuss the matter regarding the judge on his radio show. In another matter, Mr. Galbreath called the Chancellor “honey” in open court during a court proceeding.

Gerald S. Green (Shelby County) — Mr. Green received a suspension of six months with all time suspended and 6 months of probation. Mr. Green neglected his clients’ legal matters, charged an excessive fee, failed to withdraw when discharged by the client, failed to deliver to a client all papers and properties to which the client was entitled and failed to adequately communicate with the client.

Mark Henderson (Wilson County) — Mr. Henderson’s law license was suspended for six months. In a medical malpractice case, Mr. Hnederson failed to answer discovery request and was sanctioned by the court. He failed to pay the fine and the case was dismissed. He filed a motion to alter or amend the dismissal and attached to his motion a copy of a check which he falsely averred was sent to the court.

Dennis J. Hughes (Davidson County) — Mr. Hughes was disbarred as a result of his conviction for bribing a witness and criminal conspiracy.

Floyd N. Price (Davidson County) — Mr. Price’s law license was suspended for 6 months. The Supreme Court stayed this suspension pending Mr. Price’s compliance with certain conditions, including his participation in the Tennessee Lawyers’ Assistance Program, a monitor being appointed to assist Mr. Price, and the development of a plan to make restitution to his client. Mr. Price failed for 5 years to file a lawsuit on behalf of a client and made false representations to his client as to the status of the lawsuit. Eventually Mr. Price filed the lawsuit, but his neglect resulted in the dismissal of his clients’ case. Mr. Price did not tell his client about the dismissal and appealed without his client’s knowledge. Mr. Price subsequently abandoned the appeal.

David Randolph Ray (Shelby County) — Mr. Ray was disbarred as a result of his misappropriation of thousands of dollars from his former law firm to pay for personal expenses. Mr. Ray also was found to have taken actions on behalf of clients without obtaining their consent. He failed to invest nearly $500,000 of a client’s monies in a separate interest bearing account. He routinely had several drinks at his office approximately 3-4 days per week during afternoon business hours while some clients were present in the firm’s offices and on one occasion drank excessively while enroute to his own presentation on the status of real estate titles sponsored by an auctioneer. He further neglected several clients’ adoption and real estate matters.

William Mark Russell (Bedford County) Mr. Russell’s law license was suspended for one year. He neglected his clients’ cases, failed to keep his clients reasonably informed, failed to withdraw from representation and intentionally violated court rules of procedure.


Public Censures

Martin H. Aussenberg (Shelby County) — Mr. Aussenberg was held in contempt for failing to follow an order of the court to attend a hearing.

W. Allen Barrett (Davidson County) — Mr. Barrett was hired to appeal a child support case. He failed to file the required brief and the case was dismissed. This censure is conditioned upon Mr. Barrett’s timely payments of a judgment against him for this malpractice.

Thomas Lee Bean (Putnam County) — Mr. Bean on May 13, 1998 prepared a power of attorney. His client was someone other than the grantor of the power of attorney. At the request of the client the document falsely indicated that it was signed on April 2, 1997. Unbeknownst to Mr. Bean, the signature on the power of attorney was forged and the client used the document to obtain assets of the grantor.

Michael W. Edwards (Sumner County) — Mr. Edwards conveyed to his client a threatening note for the purpose of seeking additional payment for services provided. In another case he withdrew without adequately and properly protecting his client thereby resulting in harm to his client.

J.B. Glassman (Madison County) — Mr. Glassman filed a lien on his client’s case for money borrowed and advanced to his client for personal expenses.

Charles Gordon (Knox County) — Mr. Gordon was hired in April 2001 to handle a small estate. On November 8, 2001, his services were terminated. He lost his file and could not provide it to the administrator of the estate. Despite his termination, he continued to work on the case. He also failed to advise the administrator of a court date.

Bruce H. Guthrie (Hamilton County) — Mr. Guthrie failed to adequately explain a matter to his client, thereby preventing his client from making an informed decision. In his representation of another client he appeared before a child support referee on behalf of a client with the strong odor of alcohol on his breath.

Fernando J. Ramos (Davidson County) — A 1st degree murder conviction of a client of Mr. Ramos was set aside based upon a finding that Mr. Ramos had rendered ineffective assistance to his client. Mr. Ramos made no effort to ascertain his client’s version of events and thereby advised his client not to testify without being fully informed. He also called two witnesses in the case, whose testimony was detrimental to his client.

Paul Anthony Robinson, Jr. (Shelby County) — Mr. Robinson improperly engaged in the unauthorized practice of law for over one year when his law license was suspended for his failure to pay his required annual registration fee.

Paul Allen Terry, II (Perry County) — Mr. Terry abandoned his client’s divorce case, necessitating the court to appoint new counsel for the client.

Lisa Anne Temple (Knox County) — Ms. Temple caused on two occasions incorrect disbursements to be made from client funds held in trust to her former firm for unapproved fees and in one case to remedy such an error caused a disbursement to a client to be made from the firm’s operating account.. She also delayed for months a disbursement of funds to which a client was entitled and in one case delayed making agreed disbursements to creditors of a client causing unnecessary interest to accumulate to her client’s detriment.

James A. Waechter (Davidson County) — Mr. Waechter acted as a title insurance agent and held himself out to be an attorney when in fact he had been under a continuing legal education suspension for over 10 years.

Lawrence A. Welch, Jr. (Greene County) — Mr. Welch failed to forward to his client the client’s file, even after Disciplinary Counsel requested that he do so.


Disability Inactive Status

T. Edward Settles (Davidson County) — Mr. Settles agreed to transfer his license to disability inactive status.

Delilah Ann Speed (Maury County) — Ms. Speed agreed to transfer her license to disability inactive status.


Temporary Suspensions

Scott Eric Crawford (Shelby County) — Mr. Crawford’s law license was temporarily suspended on the grounds that he posed a risk of irreparable harm to the public. Mr. Crawford agreed to this suspension as a condition for his release from incarceration relative to a pending criminal matter as to him.

Kathy A. Leslie (Davidson County) — Ms. Leslie’s law license was temporarily suspended as a result of allegations against her concerning the misappropriation of client funds.

John Carlin Mask, Jr. (Dyer County) — Mr. Mask’s license was temporarily suspended on the grounds that he posed a substantial threat of harm to the public by practicing under a CLE suspension and by his cashing a client’s check for court costs and not filing the lawsuit.

Christopher P. Renard (Shelby County) — Mr.Renard’s law license was suspended as a result of his failure to respond to a complaint.

D. Michael Van Sant (Davidson County) — Mr. Van Sant’s license was temporarily suspended as a result of his failure to respond to a complaint.

Thomas L. Whiteside (Davidson County) — Mr. Whiteside’s license was temporarily suspended as a result of his failure to respond to a complaint.


Reinstatements

H. Stanley Allen (Davidson County) — Mr. Allen’s law license was reinstated. He had been on disability inactive status.

Ted A. Burkhalter (Davidson County) — Mr. Burkhalter’s law license had been suspended for five years prior to the reinstatement of his law license. His license had been suspended for his failure to maintain adequate escrow account records.

Richard A. Counts (Washington County/ Naples, Florida) — Mr. Counts law license was reinstated. He had been on disability inactive status.


Inside Board Notes
Ethics Opinion Spotlight - By Laura Chastain
Disciplinary Actions - By William W. "Tripp" hunt, III

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