Sunday, September 15, 2019

Tennessee Considers Discipline Matters

Two recent attorney discipline matters before the Tennessee Supreme Court

  • Board of Professional Responsibility v. James S. MacDonald– In this attorney-discipline matter, Mr. MacDonald challenges the trial court’s determination of violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct and imposition of a public censure.  Mr. MacDonald, as the attorney representing a client in a civil suit, added the conformed signature of the opposing party to a draft letter that Mr. MacDonald believed was signed and sent by the opposing party.  The hearing panel of the Board of Professional Responsibility determined that the Board failed to establish a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct.  On appeal by the Board, the trial court reversed the holding of the hearing panel, determining multiple violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct and imposing a sanction of public censure.  Mr. MacDonald, on appeal to the Supreme Court, argues that the trial court erred in its determination of ethical violations and asserts that the sanction imposed is unduly harsh.
  • In re: Hal Wilkes Wilkins– The Tennessee Supreme Court suspended Mr. Wilkins from the practice of law for one year on June 6, 2018.  As part of the suspension, the Court ordered Mr. Wilkins to close his IOLTA account within 30 days of entry of the Order of Enforcement or be subject to civil contempt proceedings.  On May 28, 2019, the Board of Professional Responsibility filed a petition for civil contempt with the Supreme Court, alleging that as of March 6, 2019, Mr. Wilkins’s IOLTA account had not been closed.  The Supreme Court thereafter ordered Mr. Wilkins to respond to the petition within ten days.  Mr. Wilkins did not respond.  Accordingly, the Supreme Court has ordered Mr. Wilkins to appear on September 5, 2019, to provide justification for his failure to abide by the Court’s Order of Enforcement.

(Mike Frisch)

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