Supreme Court Rules Memphis Attorney’s Behavior Warrants 2-Month Suspension

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Tennessee Supreme Court has reinstated a Memphis attorney’s 60-day suspension from the practice of law for his behavior during a trial.

Attorney R. Sadler Bailey was representing a plaintiff in a medical malpractice case in 2008. On the opening day of trial, in a case that already had become volatile among the attorneys, Mr. Bailey became upset when it appeared that Circuit Court Judge Karen Williams was about to rule against his client. After vehement arguments between the attorneys for the parties, the defense began their opening statements and Mr.

Bailey objected 12 times, most made in a manner that was in defiance of Judge Williams’ instructions.

The next day, Mr. Bailey criticized Judge Williams multiple times in court, and the defense sought a mistrial, which the judge initially denied. After continued complaints from Mr. Bailey, a mistrial was declared based on Mr. Bailey’s “contentious conduct toward the court.”

Both Judge Williams and defense counsel filed a complaint regarding Mr. Bailey with the Board of Professional Responsibility, which is responsible for investigating complaints and initiating disciplinary proceedings against attorneys in Tennessee.

A BPR hearing panel heard from four witnesses who described Mr. Bailey’s behavior as “disrespectful,” “frenetic,” and “harsh.” Mr. Bailey asserted that he was merely fulfilling his duty to zealously represent his client.

The Panel found that Mr. Bailey violated several Rules of Professional Conduct and that his extensive experience, misconduct during the course of the trial, and lack of remorse for his behavior supported imposing a 60-day suspension. Mr. Bailey appealed to the Chancery Court for Shelby County, which agreed that the violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct occurred, but decided that a 60-day suspension was not warranted. The BPR appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court concluded that Mr. Bailey’s 60-day suspension is consistent with Tennessee cases involving similar violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct and noted that the 60-day suspension is well below the minimum of six months that national standards of the American Bar Association recommend. The court also rejected Mr. Bailey’s claim that his actions were necessary to properly represent his client.

“Attorneys who cross this line may not avoid punishment by claiming that their misconduct served the greater good or the interests of their clients, as such exceptions would overwhelm the rules,” wrote Justice Cornelia A. Clark in the unanimous Opinion.

To read the opinion in R. Sadler Bailey v. Board of Professional Responsibility, authored by Justice Clark, visit the Opinions section of TNCourts.gov.




Volkswagen Celebrates 200 Million Vehicles Produced

The Volkswagen Group has now produced 200 million vehicles. Volkswagen is one of the few manufacturers in the world to have reached this total. At the Group evening, the sports car study Volkswagen XL Sport made its world debut as the 200 millionth Group vehicle. On the occasion of the production record, actress Catherine Deneuve, founding chairperson of “Cinema for Peace”, received ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Business Calendar Oct. 4 - 11

Monday, Oct. 6 Startup Week Chattanooga Presents David Weinberger noon-1:30 p.m. Chattanooga Public Library – 4th Floor: 55 E. Main St. Startup Week Chattanooga programming will officially begin with a keynote address from David Weinberger, a nationally-acclaimed author and researcher at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Widely recognized for his books Too ... (click for more)

Teen, 17, Charged With Aggravated Rape In Attack On 69-Year-Old North Chattanooga Runner

A 17-year-old has been charged with aggravated rape in connection with an attack on a 69-year-old runner in North Chattanooga on Monday morning. The teen was identified by Juvenile Court officials as Diontae Smartt. Authorities said he has given a confession. Smartt has a detention hearing Thursday at 12:30. The incident happened at approximately 7:30 a.m. ... (click for more)

Berke Implements New Pay Plan For Chattanooga Fire Department

Mayor Andy Berke joined the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and leadership of the Chattanooga Fire Department to unveil the department’s new pay plan Wednesday afternoon. At a press conference at Fire Hall #1 on Main Street, Mayor Berke and IAFF Local 820 President Jack Thompson signed a memorandum of understanding which sets forth regular raises for fire ... (click for more)

Keep John Roberts, Commissioner Of Red Bank - And Response

It has been a week since the Red Bank Neighborhood Pride Association held their candidate forum at Red Bank Middle School. I was privileged to have been asked to moderate the affair. What follows is my interpretation of the current issues facing the citizens of Red Bank and, at the end, a summation of whom I feel should be elected and whom I will be voting for personally. First, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My October Garden

Hark! It is the first day of October and, as I make my monthly stroll through the garden, I find a growing numbers of leaves and acorns. Autumn leaves are beautiful while acorns are nuts, thus you will get the idea as we make our monthly awards: A PRETTY LEAF to Phil Hughes after the Minnesota Twins pitcher came within one inning of earning a $500,000 bonus this season. The deal ... (click for more)