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Disciplinary Actions

By William W. “Tripp” Hunt, III

Disciplinary Actions (July-December, 2005):



Disbarments And Suspensions

Cynthia N. Asbury Podis (Davidson County) (6 Months Suspension) — Ms. Podis failed to adequately prepare legal matters, neglected legal matters, failed to act with diligence, and failed to adequately communicate with her clients.

David D. James, Jr. (Shelby County) (1 Year Suspension) — Mr. James failed to communicate with his client, neglected his client’s legal matter and misappropriated his client’s fees. He further failed to answer the complaint and did not appear at the disciplinary hearing.

Marcus B. Potter (Kansas) (Indefinite Suspension) — Mr. Potter’s Kansas law license was indefinitely suspended as a result of his neglect of clients’ cases, failure to adequately communicate with clients, failing to refund unearned fees and placing unearned fees in his personal accounts, rather than a trust account.

Alan J. Pyron (Shelby County) (Disbarment) — In one matter Mr. Pyron took a client’s case on a contingency basis and when Mr. Pyron could not obtain pain medication from the complainant, Mr. Pyron dropped her case. In a second matter, Mr. Pyron helped his client obtain $22,389 from the complainant in an investment scheme whereby complainant loaned money and wired it to Mr. Pyron’s trust account. Neither Respondent nor his client repaid this money and Respondent failed to produce the loan agreement or his trust account records as requested by Disciplinary Counsel.

Kevin L. Ritchey (Pennsylvania) (Disbarment) — Mr. Ritchie was disbarred as a result of his conviction in Pennsylvania for indecent exposure.

Mark D. Talley (Shelby County) (5 Years Suspension plus Indefinite Suspension Until Restitution Is Made (All the time is suspended except for six months. The non-suspended time is considered as probation.) — Mr. Talley allowed his client to use Mr. Talley’s capacity as a lawyer and escrow agent to provide credibility to an investment scheme which unknown to Mr. Talley would ultimately defraud investors.

Paul Allan Terry (Overton County) (Disbarment) — Mr. Terry did not pursue a personal injury case resulting in the dismissal of his client’s case. Mr. Terry did not file an answer to the complaint, nor did he file an answer to the Petition for Discipline. He further did not appear at the disciplinary hearing.

Gordon M. Wasson (Arizona) (2 Years Suspension, followed by 2 Years Probation) — Mr. Wasson was convicted of drug and felony driving under the influence offenses.

Lawrence A. Welch, Jr. (Greene County) (3 Years Suspension) — Mr. Welch solicited and accepted a $6000 fee as a payment for Mr. Welch’s providing financial advice to a client, even though Mr. Welch had not training to do so. Moreover Mr. Welch structured the agreement so that he would be able to keep this money even if he provided no services. Mr. Welch in fact did not render any financial assistance.



Public Censures

Joe G. Bagwell (Sevier County) — Mr. Bagwell was found guilty of failing to adequately supervise his non-lawyer assistants and failing to keep adequate escrow records.

Rodger N. Bowman (Montgomery County) — Mr. Bowman neglected to close an estate for approximately 5 years with the result that his client had been held in contempt in the estate matter for not appearing to answer motions that had been reset multiple times with the consent and knowledge of Bowman.

Spence R. Bruner (Roane County) — Mr. Bruner failed to provide a client timely notice of the resolution of the client’s appeal before the Court of Criminal Appeals and failed to file a timely motion to withdraw in that case. In a second case, Mr. Bruner also made a unilateral decision not to cross-examine an adverse witness without consulting his client and failed to pursue the appeal desired by that client. In a third case, Mr. Bruner failed to adequately respond to his clients’ requests for information, failed to take requested and necessary action on their case and failed to appear at a hearing. Mr. Bruner further failed in these matters to respond to requests for additional information from Disciplinary Counsel.

Kirk Lee Clements (Sumner County) — Mr. Clements represented a client on criminal misdemeanor charges and in a custody case. He became sexually involved with this client.

Helen L. Cornell (Davidson County) — Ms. Cornell pursued a client’s invasion of privacy claim without factual basis and/or fabricated evidence. An independent contractor employed by Ms. Cornell telephoned the opposing party during the litigation, even though this party was represented by counsel.

Charles David Deas (Blount County) — Mr. Deas pled guilty in Blount County General Sessions Court to two counts of driving under the influence and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, all but 4 days of which were suspended. Mr. Deas failed to respond to Disciplinary Counsel to requests for additional information.

Thomas F. DiLustro (Knox County) — Mr. DiLustro had a sexual relationship with his client, whom he represented in a dependency and neglect proceeding relative to her daughter. Mr. DiLustro denied the relationship to the judge, but he later confessed the truth.

Jacques B. Glassman (Madison County) — Mr. Glassman was retained to represent a client in a civil rights case. Glassman was instructed specifically by his client on more than one occasion to file a complaint in the Federal District Court and not with the Tennessee Claims Commission. Despite this instruction, Mr. Glassman filed a complaint with both the Claims Commission and Federal Court. The Federal Judge dismissed the court case on the grounds that a complaint had been filed with the Claims Commission.

Debra Fannin Graham (Anderson County) — Ms. Graham was retained to represent a juvenile, but failed to appear at the juvenile’s hearing. She did refund the fee. In a separate matter, Ms. Graham failed to promptly file a petition for custody as requested and failed to adequately communicate with the client.

William Anthony Helm (Shelby County) — Mr. Helm seriously neglected two clients’ legal matters, was persistently dilatory in meeting his commitments to clients and to the Board and failed to promptly refund a fee to one client which he acknowledged was unearned. Mr. Helm further represented two clients with conflicting interests in an irreconcilable differences divorce for several months where he knew, or should have known that disagreements had arisen between these clients over the provisions of the marital dissolution agreement, and he negligently allowed his former secretary to alter the content of pleadings filed with the court bearing his signature. The Board found as mitigating circumstances his discharge of the secretary, the parties’ entry into an amended dissolution agreement resolving the conflict and the Court’s grant of permission for him to file an amended divorce complaint to prevent the effect of the prior alteration of documents.

William A. Lockett (Hamilton County) — Mr. Lockett made a misrepresentation regarding the condition of his mother’s health to adversary counsel and to the court in order to obtain a continuance of a trial. Mr. Lockett reported the misrepresentation to the adversary counsel and to the court and paid fees to adversary counsel as ordered by the court. In another matter Mr. Lockett made a misrepresentation to adversary counsel’s office in order to secure postponement of party depositions and did not pursue the representation with competence and diligence.

Bruce E. Poston (Knox County) — Mr. Poston represented a client in a criminal mater. His client was convicted and requested Mr. Poston to file an appeal. Mr. Poston failed to do so. Mr. Poston promised to file for a late appeal, but failed to do so. He further failed to respond to inquiries by Disciplinary Counsel as to the status of the matter.

C. LeAnn Smith (Davidson County) — Ms. Smith failed to file a timely notice of appeal for her client in a criminal case. She obtained permission to file a late notice of appeal, but still failed to timely do so. As a result, her client lost an appeal of right.

Paul Richard Talley (Jefferson County) — Mr. Talley represented two clients charged with illegal alcohol sales. The DA offered one of the clients a diversion. That client rejected the offer, but Mr. Talley informed the court that the offer has been selected. Mr. Talley was found in contempt of court.

Robert E. Tribble (Shelby County) — Mr. Tribble engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by practicing when his license was administratively suspended on the account of his failure to comply with CLE requirements.



Disability Inactive Status

David Lloyd Goad (Rutherford County) — Mr. Goad’s law license was transferred to disability inactive status.

Christopher Paul Renard (Shelby County) — Mr. Renard’s law license was transferred to disability inactive status.

Clark L. Shaw (Davidson County) —Mr. Shaw’s law license was transferred to disability inactive status.



Temporary Suspensions

Howard Brownlow Barnwell (Hamilton County) — Respondent’s law license was temporarily suspended for his failure to file a response to a complaint and for his posing a threat of irreparable harm to the public.

Scott Eric Crawford (Shelby County — Mr. Crawford’s law license was suspended upon his plea of guilty in U.S. District Court to laundering drug money, bribery, possessing an illegal handgun and obstruction of justice.

Sheryl Clark Rollins (Knox County) — Ms. Rollin’saw license was suspended for substantially failing to comply with a contract with the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program and posing a threat of irreparable harm to the public.



Reinstatements

Jane J. Buffaloe (Davidson County) — Ms. Buffaloe’s law license was reinstated subject to her compliance with conditions which include her entering into a monitoring contract with the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program and maintaining a trust account monitor, as well as a law office practice monitor. Her license had been suspended for 3 years as a result of trust account violations and her neglect of legal matters.

Herman Andrew Crisler, Jr. (Shelby County) — Mr. Crisler’s law license was reinstated to the practice of law subject to his passing the Tennessee Bar Exam and his entering into a monitoring contract with the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program. Mr. Crisler had been disbarred as a result of a number of ethics violations, including conversion of client monies and abandonment of clients.

Charles Mark Pullen (Madison County) — Mr. Pullen’s law license had been suspended for his failure to comply with his monitoring agreement with the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program. His license was reinstated subject to his compliance with a new Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program contract which was extended for 5 years, to obtaining a law office practice and trust account monitor and to his not entering into solo practice for at least one year.


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

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