Sunday, November 10, 2019
A recent oral argument summarized on the web page of the Tennessee Supreme Court
Thursday, October 3, 2019
James A. Dunlap, Jr. v. Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility – M2018-01919-SC-R3-BP
Mr. Dunlap, a licensed attorney in the state of Georgia, was granted pro hac vice status to represent his client, a health care company, in its efforts to establish opiate treatment centers in Tennessee. This matter was referred to the Board of Professional Responsibility after Administrative Law Judge Kim Summers (“the ALJ”) revoked Mr. Dunlap’s permission to appear pro hac vice in Tennessee. The hearing panel of the Board determined that Mr. Dunlap violated his duty of candor and engaged in conduct involving dishonesty when he intentionally misled the ALJ by misrepresenting the status of his client’s federal case. Further, the hearing panel determined that Mr. Dunlap attempted to improperly influence the ALJ by threatening to sue the ALJ in federal court for not complying with his requests. Finally, the hearing panel determined that Mr. Dunlap’s actions, which it described as “duplicitous and bullying,” were prejudicial to the administration of justice. As a result of its findings, the hearing panel suspended Mr. Dunlap from the practice of law in Tennessee for twelve months. On appeal, the chancery court affirmed the hearing panel’s determinations as to Mr. Dunlap’s ethical violations and the imposition of suspension as the appropriate disciplinary sanction. On appeal to the Supreme Court, Mr. Dunlap challenges the hearing panel’s factual findings underlying its determinations as to his ethical violations. Mr. Dunlap also contends that there was no material harm as a result of his actions, and, therefore, a one-year suspension is unfair and disproportionate to any purported violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct.