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.




Patrick, Beard, Schulman And Jacoway, P.C. Attorneys Selected To 2016 Mid-South Super Lawyers List

Patrick, Beard, Schulman and Jacoway, P.C. announces that Richard A. Schulman, Michael A. Anderson, and Jeremy M. Cothern have been selected by their peers for inclusion in the Mid-South Super Lawyers for 2016. Each year, no more than five percent of the lawyers in the states of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive ... (click for more)

Hamilton County Emergency Communications District Implements Inform CAD, Mobile System

Hamilton County Emergency Communications District has gone live with Inform CAD and Mobile, a step in an upgrade of their emergency communications and response technology. Combining the new technologies in place at Hamilton County which include TriTech 911, which Hamilton County installed in 2014, Inform CAD, and Inform Mobile, provides the district with a modernized communications ... (click for more)

Curtis Coleman Sentenced To 144 Months For Dealing Heroin

Curtis Allen Coleman, 41, of Dayton, Ohio, was sentenced to serve 144 months in prison by Federal Judge Travis R. McDonough for heroin distribution in Chattanooga. Coleman pleaded guilty in August to a federal indictment charging him with, among other things, conspiracy to distribute heroin.  According to information on file with the United States District ... (click for more)

Red Cross Continues Tornado Relief In Southeast Tennessee

After tornadoes and strong straight-line winds moved through Southeast Tennessee on Tuesday evening, Red Cross mobilized more than 70 volunteers, provided shelter for displaced residents, and is working to ensure that emergency needs are being met for everyone who was affected.   “We are working very closely with our local Emergency Management Agencies and community partners ... (click for more)

Tennessee River Gorge Trust Trail Warriors Make You Want To Take A Hike

Trail warriors of the Tennessee River Gorge Trust make you want to take a hike.  The Tennessee River Gorge Trust staff and volunteers make a huge difference in the Chattanooga community and have been making the outdoor areas around the River Gorge clean and protected for more than 30 years.  They deserve to be recognized and praised for all of the hard work they have ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Why Our Schools Stink

Cheryl Roddy has spent her lifetime, for the biggest part, as a teacher for the Hamilton County Department of Education and, more specifically, at East Ridge High School. She has loved teaching there for nearly 40 years and is hardly “average;” she has her master's degree in education, was twice East Ridge’s teacher of the year, was the first teacher at East Ridge to reach the first ... (click for more)