Supreme Court Rejects Clarksville Lawyer's Claim That Disciplinary Process Violates Constitution

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

The Tennessee Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the professional discipline of a public censure upon Clarksville-based attorney Fletcher Whaley Long and rejected his constitutional challenges to the Court’s disciplinary enforcement rule. 

A hearing panel had determined that Mr. Long violated four provisions of the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct that arose over his failure to provide an accounting of his fees, deposit a retainer fee in his trust account, refund unearned fees and adhere to disciplinary rules. The Montgomery County Chancery Court affirmed the hearing panel’s decision and the public censure for Mr. Long. 

On appeal, Mr. Long challenged the constitutionality of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9, governing disciplinary enforcement of attorneys. Mr. Long contended in part that the Rule violated due process, because it combines investigative, enforcement, and adjudicative authority in the same agency, the Board of Professional Responsibility. 

The Tennessee Supreme Court rejected Mr. Long’s constitutional challenges, including his due-process argument. Justice Sharon G. Lee explained in the opinion that the Board’s Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel investigates allegations and institutes disciplinary proceedings if necessary. However, hearing panels composed of independent attorneys appointed by the Board then adjudicate the proceedings. 

“Because the investigatory/enforcement responsibilities and the adjudicative responsibilities are functionally separate within the Board, Rule 9 does not violate due process principles,” wrote Justice Lee. 

To read the opinion in Long v. Board of Professional Responsibility, authored by Justice Lee, visit the Opinions section of TNCourts.gov.

Miller And Martin Names Nashville Attorney To Head Health Care Practice Group

Miller & Martin PLLC announced that Nashville attorney David Lewis will head the health care practice group for the southeast firm, according to Jim Haley, chairman. Mr. Lewis joined Miller & Martin’s Nashville office in May after serving as the vice president and associate legal counsel at LifePoint Hospitals in Brentwood.  He will be responsible for the ongoing ... (click for more)

Michael Williams Has Law License Suspended

Michael Gregory Williams, of Hamilton County, was suspended from the practice of law on Thursday by Order of the Tennessee Supreme Court for four years.  The suspension will begin on Nov. 9. A Petition for Discipline was filed on Oct. 30, 2013, alleging that Mr. Williams had misappropriated funds from an estate for which he had been appointed administrator and had failed ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Area Under Hard Freeze Warning As Winter Comes Early

The Chattanooga area was under a freeze warning as winter rushed in early. The biting weather came as crew members were about to hit the water for the annual Head of the Hooch at Ross's Landing. Here is the warning: ...FREEZE WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 3 AM EST /2 AM CST/ TO 9 AM EST /8 AM CST/ SUNDAY ... THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN MORRISTOWN HAS ISSUED ... (click for more)

Downtown Chattanooga Apartment Complex That Brought $3 Million Profit Exempt From Most Taxes Until 2022 Under PILOT

A downtown Chattanooga apartment complex that recently was sold at a $3 million profit is exempt from most property taxes through 2022 under a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement.   No payment of school taxes was included in the deal for Walnut Commons at Walnut Street and Aquarium Way.   The only taxes due on the property for the next eight ... (click for more)

A Vote For Education Is Critical In Tennessee

In a state where just 28 percent of eighth graders are proficient in math and 33 percent are proficient in reading according to national assessments, education is deserving of more attention in 2014 elections. Across the country, more parents are making informed decisions about their child’s education, but for Volunteer State parents without resources, choices are difficult to come ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Garden In November

As the first day of November arrives today, it is cold enough in my garden to officially certify that fall has fell! There are even signs of ice on the ground but there is a bounty crop of acorns so, in keeping with our monthly tradition, some will get shiny acorns and others will get a chunk of cold ice: A SHINY ACORN for Patriots football coach Bill Belichick for scoffing at ... (click for more)