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Disciplinary Actions

By William W. "Tripp" Hunt, III

Disciplinary Actions (January-June, 2006):



Disbarments And Suspensions

Charles Alfonso Carpenter (Blount County) - 30 days - Mr. Carpenter was convicted for the misdemeanor of “False Pretenses” in Michigan.

Gerald F. Easter (Shelby County) - 11 months, 29 days - Mr. Easter was guilty of a conflict of interests. All the 11 months, 29 days was suspended subject to his not having a finding adverse to him of a conflict of interest in any unrelated matter.

Gary M. Eisenberg (Montgomery County) - 1 year - Mr. Eisenberg neglected clients cases, failed to adequately communicate with clients, failed to refund unearned fees, and failed to timely deliver a client’s file.

Michael E. Gilmer (Maury County) - 5 years - Mr. Gilmer abandoned his law practice, made misrepresentations to clients about their cases and failed to finish clients’ cases. He further failed to adequately communicate with clients, failed to return client files and failed to respond to the complaints filed with the Board of Professional Responsibility.

Michael E. Gilmer (Maury County) - 1 year - In regards to a second disciplinary prosecution, Mr. Gilmer abandoned his law practice, failed to finish clients’ cases, failed to adequately communicate with clients, failed to return a client file, and failed to respond to complaints from the Board. This 1year suspension was ordered to run concurrent with the 5 year suspension already imposed as to Respondent.

Harold Wayne Graves (Sullivan County) - 9 months - As a result of a medical condition, Mr. Graves was guilty of neglect and inadequate communication with clients.

Jennifer M. Johnson (Knox County) - 18 months - Ms. Johnson misappropriated $2,700 from her firm’s general operating account by writing extra payroll checks and forging a signature on those checks.

Kathy A. Leslie (Davidson County) - 36 months - Ms. Leslie misappropriated client funds.

James Richard McFall, Jr. (Shelby County) - 5 years - Mr. McFall seriously neglected many divorce and other general civil legal matters entrusted to him by his clients, failed to adequately communicate with and provided false information to many of his clients regarding the status of their legal matters, received and took dominion and control over unearned attorney fees and unexpended costs due clients and other third parties, and failed to comply with the terms of a 1999 order of temporary suspension. Mr. McFall’s license has been on disability inactive status since November 21, 2000, but his disability has been moved. The 5 year suspension was made retroactive to November 21, 2000.

Bobby A. McGee (Perry County) - 3 years - Mr. McGee’s representation of a client in a criminal case reflected both a lack of concern for the client and a failure to understand steps required to protect the client in a criminal proceeding. He further engaged in sexual relationships with clients and demonstrated no remorse for doing so. All but 90 days of the 3 years was suspended subject to Mr. McGee complying with several requirements regarding remedial education, obtaining a mentor, and complying with Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program requirements.

Mark Lee Pittman (Shelby County) - Disbarment - Mr. Pittman engaged in a troubling pattern of neglect, failing to return unearned fees, costs and files to his clients despite numerous requests, deceiving clients as to the status of their legal matters, locations of the files and whether other clients had been employed to represent them, knowingly making false statements of fact to the Board, violating requirements of the Supreme Court in its order of temporary suspension, refusing to withdraw after temporary suspension, and receiving fees when no services were rendered.

Kerry Lee Prisock (Mississippi) - 18 months - The law license of Mr. Prisock, a Tennessee and Mississippi attorney was suspended in Mississippi for 18 months. Mr. Prisock represented clients in a bankruptcy case and two domestic cases. He was guilty of neglecting these cases, failing toadequately communicate with his clients and making misrepresentations to the court.

Vaughan Eugene Reid (Shelby County) - Disbarment - Mr. Reid neglected an estate case, failed to respond to a client, made misrepresentations to a client, failed to provide a client a refund, abandoned his practice and failed to respond to Disciplinary Counsel.

Edward A. Slavin, Jr. (Shelby County) - Disbarment - Mr. Slavin engaged in misrepresentation and deceit to the courts and his clients, charged excessive fees, violated court orders, failed to preserve client property, demonstrated incompetence and lack of diligence and abused the legal process by habitually harassing and intimidating officers of the court and opposing counsel by filing abusive, insulting, untrue and unprofessional statements regarding judges, litigants and opposing counsel.

Michael D. Van Sant (Davidson County) - Disbarment - Mr. Van Sant knowingly failed to perform services to clients and neglected client matters. His discipline was aggravated by his prior discipline of a censure and a law license suspension. He further did not appear at his disciplinary hearing.



Public Censures

Charles Agee (Dyer County) - A client of Mr. Agee borrowed $8,000 from the complainant which was protected by liens signed by Mr. Agee’s client and Mr. Agee. Mr. Agee settled the case, but did not pay the complainant his liens. Mr. Agee gave the client $5,000 and withheld $10,000 to negotiate with the client’s lien holders. Mr. Agee paid the lien holders other than the complainant, leaving a balance of $5,196.69. Mr. Agee was censured for failing to hold in trust the entire $8,000.

Edmund Lee Baugh, Jr. (Bradley County) - Mr. Baugh engaged in the practice of law by accepting representation of a client during the period his law license was suspended for failing to comply with continuing legal education requirements.

Robert C. Brooks (Shelby County) - Mr. Brooks negligently engaged in the solicitation of attorney fees from a defendant’s family while he was serving as appointed counsel for the indigent defendant in a federal criminal matter without obtaining permission from the U.S. District Court prior to engaging in such solicitation, as was required by federal law.

Charles William Cherry (Davidson County) - Mr. Cherry failed to keep adequate time records to support billing claims filed by him with the Administrative Office of the Courts. The censure was conditioned upon Mr. Cherry’s compliance with his settlement agreement with the Administrative Office of the Courts to repay $50,000 in overpayments by the Administrative Office of the Courts to Mr. Cherry.

Richard W. Clark, III (Knox County) - Mr. Clark was appointed to represent a petitioner in regards to a petition for post-conviction relief. He failed to inform his client of the denial of the petition for post-conviction relief. He further failed to timely respond to inquiries from Disciplinary Counsel.

Gary D. Copas (Davidson County) - Mr. Copas failed to answer discovery propounded to his client, failed to adequately communicate with the client, and failed to appear several times at appointments with his client. In a second case, he was retained in 2003 to file Federal lawsuit. He has failed to file that lawsuit and neglected his representation. He further failed to adequately communicate with his clients in this Federal matter.

Charles R. Curbo (Shelby County) - Mr. Curbo failed to safeguard the property of clients. There appeared no indication of dishonesty by Mr. Curbo and no client lost any money.

Charles David Deas (Blount County) - Mr. Deas was retained to represent a party in an automobile accident case. He failed to attempt service more than once and as a result the defendant was never served. The client obtained a new counsel, and the new counsel achieved service. However, this was too late and the case was dismissed. An aggravating factor in determining discipline was a prior public censure issued as to Mr. Deas.

Gerald Todd Eidson (Greene County) - Mr. Eidson represented the father of three children, at least one of whom had been sexually abused by his mother’s boyfriend. The father and the mother shared joint custody. The father wanted Mr. Eidson to obtain permanent custody in his name. Mr. Eidson failed to seek custody or even contact the witnesses whose names had been furnished to him. Mr. Eidson also failed to respond to requests from Disciplinary Counsel for additional information.

Linda Kaye Kendall Garner (Shelby County) - Ms. Garner negligently failed to properly communicate with her clients regarding the setting of a writ of inquiry in a personal injury action which had been pending in Circuit Court since 1995 and in which she had obtained a default judgment on behalf of these clients in July 2002. Ms. Garner was also required to non-suit the case for a second time in May 2004 because a writ of inquiry hearing had not been conducted and she failed to inform her clients of the second voluntary non-suit.

Walter Edwin Grantham (Hamilton County) - Mr. Grantham represented a client relative to a claim with the Tennessee Claims Commission. An order was entered in that case to settle the case or submit a scheduling order. Mr. Grantham failed to submit the order even after a show cause order was issued relative to this. The case was dismissed. Mr. Grantham acted without reasonable diligence and failed to keep his client reasonably informed about the matter.

Don A. Handley (Shelby County) - Mr. Handley continued to practice law after he was suspended for non-payment of dues and lack of compliance with continuing legal education requirements.

Barry E. Gilmore (Shelby County) - In three complaints, the Board found that Mr. Gilmore seriously neglected and failed to move with reasonable diligence in his clients’ legal matters and that he had been persistently dilatory in meeting his commitments to his clients and the Board. He further failed to notify his clients that he had abandoned his law office and moved his office to his home as well as failed to communicate with his clients further after this move. This failure was a result of a medical problem.

John E. Herbison (Davidson County) - Mr. Herbison failed to return his client’s phone calls and neglected his client’s case. Mr. Herbison also promised to file a brief by the end of September 2005, but as of March 1, 2006 he had not done so. Mitigating factors included family medical problems and the inordinate amount of his time required by one client during this period of time.

M. Joshiah Hoover (Knox County) - Mr. Hoover failed to timely respond to inquiries from Disciplinary Counsel

T. Verner Smith (Madison County) - Mr. Smith signed his former wife’s name to two promissory notes and one deed of trust. The parties disputed whether his wife gave him permission to do this. Mr. Smith also loaned money to a number of clients through a business in which he had an undisclosed pecuniary interest.

Paul J. Springer, Sr. (Shelby County) - Mr. Springer was judged in contempt of the Court of Criminal Appeals for failing to file briefs in 3 appeals until a show cause order was issued. He had previously been granted 3-4 extensions in these cases and the extensions lasted nearly 6 months. The censure found him to be grossly negligent, but acknowledged a mitigating factor in that he had practiced law for only a few years and the instances of neglect lasted only for a specific time period in 2005.

James F. Taylor (Hawkins County) - The complainant retained Mr. Taylor to represent him relative to aggravated assault charges. Mr. Taylor did various pre-trial tasks and obtained a plea offer which he thought acceptable. The complainant rejected the plea. Respondent then withdrew and refused to refund the fee. His fee contract said that the fee was non-refundable unless the attorney is terminated for any reason other than the attorney’s inability to perform. The censure states that rejection of a plea offer did not remove the attorney’s obligation to continue to represent the complainant.

Paul J. Walwyn (Davidson County) - Mr. Walwyn failed to timely respond to inquiries from Disciplinary Counsel.



Disability Inactive Status

Keith C. Kyles (Shelby County) - The law license of Keith C. Kyles was transferred to disability inactive status. Mr. Kyles requested the transfer as a result of some surgery he had to undergo.



Temporary Suspensions

Charles Daniel Collins (Hamilton County) - Mr. Collins’ law license was temporarily suspended because he failed to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility concerning an overdraft and posed a threat of irreparable harm to the public.

Walter Ray Culp (Williamson County) - Mr. Culp’s law license was summarily suspended because Mr. Culp pled guilty to extortion. The matter was referred to the Board for a determination of the extent of final discipline.

Guy S. Davis (Lake County) - Mr. Davis’ law license was temporarily suspended for his failure to respond to complaints filed against him.

Charles David Deas (Blount County) - Mr. Deas’ law license was temporarily suspended for his failure to respond to complaints filed against him.

Christopher F. Donovan (Dyer County) - Mr. Donovan’s law license was temporarily suspended because he failed to answer a complaint of misconduct and posed a substantial threat of irreparable harm to the public.

Merrilyn Feirman (Davidson County) - Ms. Feirman’s law license was temporarily suspended because she failed to respond to a complaint filed against her with the Board.

Barry E. Gilmore (Shelby County) - Mr. Gilmore’s law license was temporarily suspended as a result of his posing a threat of irreparable harm to the public as a result of a medical condition that caused him to abandon his law practice and his clients.

William Anthony Helm (Shelby County) - Mr. Helms’ law license was temporarily suspended because he posed a substantial threat to the public due to his abandonment of his law practice and his clients.

Michael D. Kellum (Washington County) - Mr. Kellum’s law license was suspended on the grounds that he posed a substantial threat of irreparable harm to the public and that he failed to respond to complaints filed against him.

William N. Ligon (Sumner County) - Mr. Ligon’s law license was temporarily suspended because he posed a substantial threat of irreparable harm to the public.

Arthur Scott Pratt (Washington County) - Mr. Pratt’s law license was temporarily suspended because he posed a substantial threat of irreparable harm to the public.

Kathy Ann Sittloh (Rutherford County) - Ms. Sittloh’s law license was suspended because she failed to respond to complaints filed against her and posed a threat of irreparable harm to the public.



Reinstatements

Rex E. Leatherwood (Davidson County) - Mr. Leatherwood’s license was reinstated from disability inactive status subject to his passing the Tennessee bar exam, complying with his CLE requirements, and continuing his monitoring requirements.


Contempt

Edwin A. Slavin, Jr (Shelby County) - 10 days incarceration and $50 fine - Mr. Slavin’s law license had been suspended and he failed to return a client’s file as required by Tennessee Supreme Court 9, Section 18.

Warner Hodges III (Shelby County) - 10 days incarceration and $50 fine — Mr. Hodges was found in contempt of a Supreme Court order suspending him from practicing law. The 10 days incarceration requirement was suspended pending his compliance with the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program and orders of the Court.


Inside Board Notes
Disciplinary Actions - By William W. "Tripp" hunt, III
Dark Secrets - By Charles Bloeser

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