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Disciplinary Actions

By William W. “Tripp” Hunt, III

Disciplinary Actions (January-June, 2005):



Disbarments And Suspensions

Emilia Green Ballentine (Shelby County) (1 year) — Ms. Ballentine continued to practice law even though her law license had been suspended for over a year for failure to comply with Continuing Legal Education requirements. She further failed to respond to a complaint of misconduct and to the petition for discipline. The hearing panel found that her failure to update address information with the Board and in her evading properly addressed mail and service of process were aggravating factors.

Stanley R. Barnett (Knox County) (3 years) — Mr. Barnett failed to comply with court-ordered conditions on an earlier reinstatement, failed to refund unearned fees, failed to appear at scheduled court dates, neglected cases, failed to adequately communicate with clients, failed to return a client’s files and failed to respond to requests from Disciplinary Counsel.

Gloria Jean Brown (Knox County) (1 year) — Ms. Brown neglected a criminal matter and failed to adequately communicate with her client. She was cited in contempt for her failure to appear at a court hearing. She also failed to appear in a second civil matter and opposing counsel was unable to communicate with her. She filed a frivolous action again employees of a domestic violence crisis center and acted in a bizarre manner screaming and/or cursing these employees and employees of the Disciplinary Counsel’s office.

Leroy Cain, Jr. (Davidson County) (9 months) — Mr. Cain continued to practice law while his law license was suspended for non-compliance with his continuing legal education requirements. He further made misrepresentations to clients; failed to adequately communicate with clients, courts, opposing counsel and the Board; disclosed client confidences; and neglected client matters.

Warner Hodges, III (Shelby County) (1 year) — Mr. Hodges practiced law after his law license had been suspended by the Supreme Court. He also was out of compliance with the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program.

Charles B. Hill, II (Roane County) (1 year) — Mr. Hill allowed a statute of limitations to expire in a car accident case without filing a complaint. He did not tell his clients, but created a fictitious document purporting to award his clients $2800 and provided this document to his clients. He also non-suited another case without telling his client.

Joseph L. Hornick (Dickson County) (45 days) — Mr. Hornick neglected a client’s divorce case . He paid the client’s court costs, but misinformed his client regarding the payment of his client’s court costs. He further made false and misleading statements to the Board.

David D. James, Jr. (Shelby County/Mississippi) (1 year) — Mr. James acknowledged receipt of $250 in attorney fees from a client for him to add a creditor to her prior Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Mr. James did not file the requested Motion to Reopen the client’s bankruptcy matter, but kept the $250 paid to him. The hearing panel also found he evaded properly addressed certified mail, failed to cooperate, answer or defend himself in his disciplinary matter, and was indifferent to making restitution to his client.

James L. Kennedy (Knox County) (90 days) — Mr. Kennedy failed to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client with regard to an estate and failed to keep the client reasonably informed regarding that matter. He also had continued to practice law while his law license was suspended for non-compliance with Continuing Legal Education requirements.

John Carlin Mask (Hardeman County) (Disbarment) — Mr. Mask misappropriated client funds, abandoned his practice, and engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. Aggravating factors included Mr. Mask’s dishonesty and his failure to make restitution.

James L. Milligan, Jr. (Knox County) (2 years) — Mr. Milligan misappropriated trust funds. In one year, he overdrew his trust account 24 times. He also signed his clients’ name to a release and had the signatures falsely notarized. The Supreme Court found the fact that ultimately no client lost any funds to be a mitigating circumstance.

Douglas P. Nanney (Hickman County) (2 years plus indefinite suspension until probation conditions completed) — Mr. Nanney’s suspension resulted from his guilty plea to a violation of TCA Sec. 40- 35-313 (possession of drug paraphernalia).

Steven Monroe Temple (Shelby County) (1 year plus restitution) — Mr. Temple abandoned his law practice without notice to his clients, charged excessive fees, failed to withdraw from his clients’ cases when he could no longer represent them, failed to adequately communicate with his clients and failed to return unused portions of retainer fees.

Thomas L. Whiteside (Williamson County) (Disbarment) — Mr. Whiteside abandoned his law practice, knowingly failed to perform services to clients and neglected legal matters of clients causing serious injury to the clients. He also took client funds under false pretenses and deceived his clients.



Public Censures

Harold Brownlow Barnwell (Hamilton County) — Mr. Barnwell voluntarily dismissed a case for which he was representing a client. Mr. Barnwell failed to re-file the case within the one year permitted by the savings statute.

Arch B. Boyd (Shelby County) — Mr. Boyd neglected a legal matter, failed to adequately communicate with his client and failed to refund any monies after his client terminated his employment.

Nan Shelby Calloway (Montgomery County) — Ms. Calloway failed to adequately communicate with her client resulting in the client’s decision to hire another attorney to complete her legal matter. Ms. Calloway and her client could not agree on the amount of refund. She did not timely resolve this issue with the Nashville Bar Association Fee Dispute Committee.

Christine Zellar Church (Montgomery County) -— Respondent made unclear statements and failed to clarify facts to the complainant’s current employer regarding whether the complainant had been fired by her two previous employers.

Denvil F. Crowe, Jr. (Davidson County) — Mr. Crowe failed to contact his bankruptcy clients directly to inform them how to contact him after closing his Nashville office.

James B. Fisher, Jr. (Shelby County) — Mr. Fisher consistently used his IOLTA escrow account for a very large number of personal transactions unrelated to his law practice for over a 6 year period. The Board found no actual misappropriation of entrusted funds on Fisher’s part and found a mitigating circumstance to be his acceptance of responsibility and his acknowledgment that such commingling was ethically improper. Fisher’s 27 years of practice in Tennessee was considered an aggravating circumstance in the matter.

Michael D. Fitzgerald (Shelby County) — Mr. Fitzgerald failed to keep adequate trust account records.

William Eugene Jessup (Hamilton County) — Ajury, which was affirmed by the Court of Appeals, found that Mr. Jessup attempted to collect a clearly excessive fee.

Michael J. LaGuardia (Sullivan County) — Mr. LaGuardia testified incorrectly in a deposition. He later admitted his error and self-reported to the Board.

Robert Lee Martin (Davidson County) — Mr. Martin was censured for improper advertising. His targeted direct mail advertising to prospective clients in the area of DUI defense did not include the required wording “THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT” in a conspicuous print size relative to the other print in the ad. He also did not deliver to the Board a copy of the letter and the mailing list to whom the advertising was sent. Mr. Martin’s characterization of the DUI report enclosed with the advertising contained words which were likely to create in the minds of potential clients an unjustified expectation about results, such as “DUI TOP GUN”, “a true DUI pro”, and a”guarantee” to clients of a “First Offender Satisfaction Package.” Martin’s description of other lawyers as “incompetent” individuals who “rip off the public” and only “dabble” in DUI cases and his argument that DUI clients are “merely the products of overzealous police and bad public policy decisions” were found to be claims which could not be justified. Furthermore, Martin claimed to be “specializing” in DUI defense, when he had not been certified as a specialist.

James L. Rather (Knox County) — Mr. Rather was employed as an in-house attorney for an estate planning company. Mr. Rather prepared various trust documents at the instructions of the company. He prepared the documents without consulting with the customer. He thereby was guilty of assisting in the unauthorized practice of law.

Earle J. Schwarz (Shelby County) — Mr. Schwarz neglected his client’s legal matter in an Alabama death penalty case, in which he was admitted pro hac vice. He did not notify his client of the denial by the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, failed to file a notice of appeal with the Alabama Supreme Court and failed to file a notice of withdrawal. He had no contact with his client after the denial of the appeal and did not inform his client he was no longer representing him.

Clark L. Shaw (Davidson County) — Mr. Shaw failed to take prompt action on behalf of a client’s request for a restraining order. He further failed to promptly address a problem with an order that was contrary to the Court’s original order. He also failed to timely respond to his client’s request for information and to provide his client with a requested itemization of his bill.

Jeffrey Andrew Stinnett (Hamilton County) — Mr. Stinnett engaged in the practice of law during a period after his license to practice law was administratively suspended for failure to comply with continuing legal education requirements.

David E. Woodby (Sullivan County) — Mr. Woodby continued to practice law while his law license was suspended for noncompliance with the CLE requirements. He indicated to the bankruptcy court that he was in the process of obtaining a certificate of good standing from the State of Tennessee when he did not do so.



Disability Inactive Status

Stephen B. Catron (Kentucky) — Mr. Catron’s law license was transferred to disability inactive status upon his petition for such transfer.



Temporary Suspensions

Rebecca C. Arnold (Shelby County) — Ms. Arnold’s law license was temporarily suspended as a result of her failure to substantially comply with a contract she entered into with the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program.

Scott Eric Crawford (Shelby County) — Mr. Crawford’s law license was summarily suspended as a result of his plea of guilty in Federal court to the crimes of laundering drug money through his law practice, bribery, possessing an illegal handgun, and obstruction of justice.

John Louis Dolan, Jr. (Shelby County) — Mr. Dolan’s law license was temporarily suspended as a result of his failure to respond to a complaint of misconduct.

Michael E. Gilmer (Maury County) — Mr. Gilmer’s law license was suspended because he failed to respond to two complaints of misconduct.

David L. Goad (Rutherford County) — Mr. Goad’s law license was temporarily suspended upon a finding that Mr. Goad posed a threat of irreparable harm to the public.

David Alan Gold (Davidson County) — Mr. Gold’s law license was summarily suspended after he pled guilty to the crime of accessory after the fact of especially aggravated robbery.

Floyd Nolton Price (Davidson County) — Mr. Price’s law license was temporarily suspended as a result of his failure to timely respond to complaints.

John Earl Rainwater (Knox County) — Mr. Rainwater’s law license was temporarily suspended as a result of his failure to respond to a complaint of misconduct. (In July 2005, his license was reinstated.)

Susanna Laws Thomas (Cocke County) — Ms. Thomas’ law license was suspended for her failure to respond to two complaints against misconduct.

* Temporary suspensions are summary suspensions pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9, Section 4.3 and in some instances may be subject to reinstatement subject to certain conditions or in some instances remain in effect pending final disciplinary proceedings.



Reinstatements

Albert F. Officer, III (Putnam County) — Mr. Officer’s law license had been suspended for 3 years as a result of an illegal drug conviction, his neglect of a client’s case and his failure to adequately communicate with his client. His license was reinstated subject to his entering into and complying with a contract with the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program and his retention of a law practice monitor/mentor.

Timothy Joseph Richter (Robertson County) — Mr. Richter’s law license was reinstated from disability inactive status subject to his compliance with Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program requirements and his obtaining a practice monitor.

Byron R. Simpson (Williamson County) — Mr. Simpson’s law license was reinstated from disability inactive status subject to his retention of a practice monitor and the successful completion of a criminal diversionary program.


Findings of Contempt by the Supreme Court

Christopher P. Renard (Shelby County) — Mr. Renard’s law license was temporarily suspended on May 21, 2004 and has never been reinstated. After that date, he continued to provide legal services to a former client and held himself out to opposing counsel and the general public as a practicing attorney. He had also consistently failed to provide notice to his former clients of his suspension as required by Supreme Court rules. Mr. Renard expressed remorse for his actions and the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program intervened. He was ordered to pay fine of $100. He was not imprisoned in order to allow him to obtain treatment for the impairments which afflict him.

Edward A. Slavin, Jr. (Florida) — Mr. Slavins’ law license was suspended on August 27, 2004 for two years. Mr. Slavin continued to represent clients after his license was suspended, and he failed to file the affidavit required by the Supreme Court of attorneys. He also failed to notify opposing counsel and his clients about his suspension. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail and fined $50.


Inside Board Notes
New Board Members - By Laura L. Chastain
Disciplinary Actions - By William W. "Tripp" hunt, III

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