July 13, 2009
Motion To Sever Bar Charges Properly Denied
The Tennessee Supreme Court rejected a variety of procedural and substantive objections and suspended a lawyer admitted in 1990 for two years. The court summarized the contentions:
In this direct appeal of a lawyer disciplinary proceeding involving three separate complaints, we are asked to determine whether the trial court correctly affirmed the hearing panel’s order suspending attorney Jes Beard from the practice of law for two years. Mr. Beard argues that the hearing panel erred in: (1) denying his motion to sever and continue the scheduled hearing; (2) finding that he violated several disciplinary rules; (3) applying the Rules of Professional Conduct, when those rules took prospective effect after his conduct occurred; (4) denying him the opportunity to present mitigating evidence; and (5) imposing punishment that was not comparable with punishments imposed in similar cases. Mr. Beard also asserts that the trial court erred in granting the Board of Professional Responsibility’s motion to quash his subpoena duces tecum and abused its discretion in denying his motion for recusal. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.
The court found that the evidence had established violations both before and after the effective date of the rule changes. the trial court had acted within its discretion in denying the motion to sever.
My own view is that a motion to sever disciplinary charges should rarely, if ever, be granted. The broader the picture of an attorney's practices that can be developed in a hearing, the better. (Mike Frisch)
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