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Disciplinary Actions

By William W. "Tripp" Hunt, III

Disciplinary Actions (January-June, 2007):



Disbarments And Suspensions

Charles Daniel Collins (Hamilton County) - 2 Years and 6 Months - This discipline arose out of two petitions which cumulatively imposed the 2 1/2 year suspension. There were 11 complaints of neglect and some of these cases involved misrepresentation by Respondent to his clients.

John Louis Dolan, Jr (Shelby County) - Two Years - Respondent was guilty of neglect, failure to adequately communicate with clients and abandonment of practice.

Clyde E. Harris, Jr. (Maury County) - Three Years - Mr. Harris obtained money from his employer by false representation. He reported working more hours than he had worked and received more than $5,000 in additional pay.

Warner Hodges III (Shelby County) - Two Years - Mr. Hodges' license was originally suspended on October 1, 2004. Mr. Hodges continued to practice law in Mississippi after his 2004 suspension.

William Norman Ligon (Sumner County) - One Year - Mr. Ligon neglected his clients' legal matters, failed to communicate with his clients, acted incompetently, and charged an excessive fee.

Keith R. Peterson (Giles County) - Disbarment - Mr. Peterson neglected clients' cases, failed to communicate with his clients and abandoned his practice.

Kathy Ann Sittloh (Rutherford County) - Disbarment - Ms. Sittloh in three situations stole monies from her clients.



Public Censures

Charles G. Blackard, III (Williamson County) - Mr. Blackard represented a client in a domestic relations case. Mr. Blackards client was unable to communicate with him by telephone and mail. The client was unable to obtain his file from Mr. Blackard. In another case, Mr. Blackard also failed to adequately communicate with his client. In this case, he was unprepared at the hearing and failed to subpoena witnesses requested by the client. He also failed to respond to four requests by Disciplinary Counsel for information.

W. Allen Barrett (Davidson County) - In a child support case, Mr. Barrett failed to return his client's phone calls and failed to timely file an order reflecting an increase in child support until after a complaint was filed with the Board.

Robert L. Booker (California) - Mr. Booker's law license was suspended by the 9th Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals and the State of Utah, concurrently for a period of 18 months. The 9th Circuit stated he could apply for reinstatement upon his reinstatement to practice in any state. Mr. Booker moved for reinstatement based upon his admission to practice in Tennessee and stated he intended to take the July 2006 bar exam in California. Before the court reinstated him, he used stationary on which he identified himself as an "attorney at law" and showed a California address, without a clarifying statement that he was admitted to be eligible to practice only in Tennessee. While suspended, Mr. Booker also appeared as counsel for an appellant in the 9th Circuit. Despite the warning from the clerk of said court that it would be improper for him to do so, Mr. Booker still submitted a notice of appearance.

Tony N. Brayton (Shelby County) - Mr. Brayton failed to properly communicate with a client and failed to move with reasonable diligence. As an appellate counsel with the Shelby County Public Defender's Office, Mr. Brayton represented a defendant in a first degree murder case. The Tennessee Supreme Court in February 2006 upheld the conviction and death penalty as to his client. Both the client and the State Post-Conviction Defender expected Mr.Brayton to file a petition for rehearing with the Tennessee Supreme Court and a direct petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Brayton did neither before the expiration of the ninety day period for which to file the petition for certiorari and failed to withdraw before the Tennessee Supreme Court in sufficient time for the State Post-Conviction Defender to assume representation and timely file the petition for certiorari. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to accept a late-filed petition for certiorari.

Stuart B. Breakstone (Shelby County) - Mr. Breakstone was removed as counsel for an exwife/ mother as a result of a conflict of interest arising from his personal relationship with that client.

Steven M. Brown (Shelby County) -Mr. Brown's law license was suspended from the practice of law for forty-five days beginning on July 28, 2006. During this period, Mr. Brown improperly prepared, signed and filed an action in a civil action on behalf of a corporate defendant, as Vice President of the corporation. The Board found as a mitigating fact his cessation of these legal services and his insistence that the corporation retain separate counsel in the underlying civil action immediately after the opposing counsel informed him that a licensed attorney was required in order to represent a corporation.

Leroy Cain, Jr. (Davidson County) - Mr. Cain accepted $13,700 in fees regarding an estate without first seeking or obtaining court approval for his fees.

Nan Shelby Calloway (Davidson County) - A divorce was awarded to Ms. Calloway's client on grounds of adultery. Ms. Calloway was guilty of having an affair with that client.

David E. Caywood (Shelby County) - Mr. Caywood neglected a child support matter in which he became involved in July 2003 and has still not finalized. In a second child support matter, a hearing was begun on July 23, 2004, but he did not conclude it. He has not tried to reset the hearing. In a third matter, a divorce action, Mr. Caywood failed to finalize a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. In all three cases, he failed to adequately communicate with his clients.

Ronald C. Coleman (Shelby County) - Mr. Coleman collected an excessive attorney's fee in a lawsuit by a corporation in which his wife had a substantial ownership interest.

Penny Harrington (Davidson County) - Respondent filed a complaint with the Metro Nashville Police Department that was false. Respondent's response to the complaint filed with the Board concerning the same matter was likewise false.

Randall Keith Hatfield (Campbell County) - Mr. Hatfield was retained on March 9, 2000 to file a petition for post-conviction relief. The matter remained pending as of the date of the censure. The client stated he had not talked to Mr. Hatfield for 3 1/2 years.

Lewis A. Holt (Washington County) - Mr. Holt failed to return his clients calls and closed his office without notice to his client. The client was unable to obtain file documents from Mr. Holt. Mr. Holt further failed to refund the fee.

Matthew F. Mayo (Davidson Count) - In a Juvenile Court matter, Mr. Mayo failed to obtain service in a matter he filed with the Court. He also failed to respond to his client's request for information. In a second divorce matter, he failed to enter a decree of divorce for almost three years.

Michael T. Meehan (Washington County) - Mr. Meehan was appointed to several criminal cases. He abruptly moved to California and failed to appear in court on behalf of his clients. Mr. Meehan was found in contempt of court.

Billy P. Sams (Anderson County) - Mr. Sams told an inmate of the Knox County detention center that he could get the inmate transferred to the Veterans Hospital. Mr. Sams did not get him transferred and failed to respond to the client's inquiries.

Raymond A. Shirley, Jr. (Knox County) - In his representation of a client in an automobile accident matter, Mr. Shirley failed to respond to many of his clients' requests for communication, neglected her case and allowed her claim to be extinguished by his negligence in failing to achieve service on the defendant.

John Sholly (Knox County) - Mr. Sholly was found in contempt for failing to file a brief in a matter before the Court of Appeals.

Ronald Lee Stone, Sr. (Davidson County) - A default judgment was entered into against Mr. Stone's client. He failed to advise his client of this default judgment.

Linda Sesson Taylor (Madison County) - A nonlicensed individual on her staff was practicing law. Ms. Taylor did not know this. She was censured for failing to adequately supervise her staff.

Melvin J. Werner (Shelby County) - Mr. Werner failed to pay to the Court of Criminal Appeals the facsimile filing charge. The Court ordered him to pay the monies and he did not respond to the order. The Court found Mr. Werner in willful contempt.



Temporary Suspensions

David Pittard Ward (Knox County) - Mr. Ward's law license was suspended for failing to file a response to a complaint against him.



Reinstatements

Rex E. Leatherwood (Davidson County) - Mr. Leatherwood's law license was reinstated from disability inactive status subject to certain conditions, including a requirement that he pass the essay portion of the bar exam.

Robert E. Nichols (Knox County) - Mr. Nichols' law license had been suspended because of his failure to respond to complaints against him. He has now responded and, as a result, his license has been reinstated.


Inside Board Notes
Coping with Stress - By Henry L. Klein
Ethics Opinion Spotlight - By Laura L. Chastain
Suicide and Our Profession - By Robert S. Brandt
Disciplinary Actions - By William W. "Tripp" Hunt, III

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