Tennessee Supreme Court Rejects Chattanooga Attorney's Petition For Reinstatement

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The Tennessee Supreme Court today rejected the petition for reinstatement filed by a Chattanooga attorney whose law license has been suspended since 1998.

In 1997, attorney Nathan E. Brooks faced serious discipline for complaints filed against him by multiple clients. In 1998, he agreed to a two-year suspension of his law license, to pay restitution on 12 complaints filed against him, and to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceedings.

In 2002, Mr. Brooks sought reinstatement of his law license. His request for reinstatement was denied because he had never paid the costs and restitution he agreed to pay as part of the settlement of his disciplinary charges. Mr. Brooks appealed to the Tennessee Supreme Court, arguing that he was indigent and could not afford to pay the restitution and costs he had agreed to pay, and that requiring him to pay them violated his constitutional right to due process. In 2004, the Tennessee Supreme Court rejected his appeal.

Some 13 years later, Mr. Brooks filed another petition to reinstate his law license. Tennessee rules require any attorney seeking reinstatement of his law license to make an advance deposit for the costs of the reinstatement proceedings.  Mr. Brooks did not pay the advance deposit, so his petition was denied.

Mr. Brooks again appealed to the Tennessee Supreme Court, arguing that he was indigent and unable to pay the advance cost deposit. He again argued that not allowing him to have his law license reinstated without paying the advance cost deposit was a denial of his right to due process.

The Tennessee Supreme Court again rejected Mr. Brooks’ appeal. As to his due process argument, the Court explained that Mr. Brooks has no “right” to practice law; in Tennessee, the practice of law is a privilege and not a right.

The Court noted that all Tennessee lawyers pay a significant annual fee to cover the cost of investigating and prosecuting disciplinary charges against lawyers.  Here, faced with possible disbarment, Mr. Brooks negotiated a conditional guilty plea to multiple serious charges. Requiring him to pay—in advance—a deposit on costs associated with his request for reinstatement “reflects the Court’s reasoned decision to place the financial burden of Mr. Brooks’ reinstatement proceedings where it belongs, on him.” The Court held that Mr. Brooks was not denied due process by requiring him to pay the cost of reinstatement proceedings his misconduct necessitated.

Justice Sharon G. Lee filed a separate opinion concurring in part and not joining in part. Justice Lee concurred in the Court’s decision that Mr. Brooks’ petition should be dismissed for failure to pay the advance cost deposit and that there was no merit to Mr. Brooks’ due process claim. Justice Lee did not join in the Court’s procedural due process analysis, finding that because Mr. Brooks had not adequately raised a procedural due process claim, the Court’s discussion of that claim was unnecessary.

To read the majority opinion in Nathan E. Brooks v. Board of Professional Responsibility, authored by Justice Holly Kirby, and the separate opinion authored by Justice Sharon G. Lee, go to the opinions section of TNCourts.gov.


Chattanooga Chamber Calendar Of Events May 21-23

Tennessee's Unemployment Rate In April Remains At Historic Low

Thrive Yoga Raises $4,000 For Charity Through Community Outreach Events


May 21, Public Service Industry Council Meeting 9 to 10:30 a.m. Chattanooga Chamber: 811 Broad St. Public Service is one of four Industry Councils, an initiative of the Chattanooga Chamber, ... (click for more)

For the third consecutive month, Tennessee’s preliminary statewide unemployment rate for April 2019 remains at the all-time low of 3.2 percent, according to data released today by the Tennessee ... (click for more)

Thrive Yoga and Wellness in partnership with The Retreat at Nutrition World raised funds and awareness for McKamey Animal Center with Kitten & Puppy Yoga events earlier this month. Over ... (click for more)


Business

Chattanooga Chamber Calendar Of Events May 21-23

May 21, Public Service Industry Council Meeting 9 to 10:30 a.m. Chattanooga Chamber: 811 Broad St. Public Service is one of four Industry Councils, an initiative of the Chattanooga Chamber, partnering with Hamilton County's Future Ready Institutes. To become involved, email Mattie Moran , mmoran@chattanoogachamber.com , for more information. No cost. May 21, ... (click for more)

Tennessee's Unemployment Rate In April Remains At Historic Low

For the third consecutive month, Tennessee’s preliminary statewide unemployment rate for April 2019 remains at the all-time low of 3.2 percent, according to data released today by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD). Tennessee first set its all-time low unemployment rate in February and it has remained at a seasonally adjusted 3.2 percent each ... (click for more)

Breaking News

4 People Shot At 2 Hixson Locations; 2 Killed On Ardis Lane; 2 Men Shot At Northgate Crossing Apartments In Hixson

Four men were shot in two overnight shootings in Hixson. Two people were shot and killed on Ardis Lane. At approximately 10:07 p.m., Chattanooga Police responded to the 6700 block of Ardis Lane on a report of persons shot. Upon arrival, police located two men suffering from gunshot wounds. Hamilton County EMS responded and pronounced Kirtus Thompson, 27, deceased on ... (click for more)

Greg Vital Says Ancient Stone Cairns, Part Trail Of Tears Route Found On His Meigs Farm; Asks TVA To Reroute Project Viper Transmission Line

Lawyers for Georgetown property owner Greg Vital notified the Tennessee Valley Authority on Thursday that a second archaeological study of the site found 15 different Native American artifacts, not one, as TVA said in its official report in April. “There are 14 more historically significant cairns in a distinguishable pattern within a hundred yards of what TVA said was the only ... (click for more)

Opinion

Chattanooga's Shooting Epidemic

These shootings continue and something has to be done to try and stop them whether they are domestic, robbery or gang related. We obviously can not remove these handguns from every man, woman and child. I suggest that merchants that sell handguns raise the minimum age to 21 years for the purchase of handgun ammunition only. This 21 age requirement would not include ammunition ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Alabama’s Flat-Out Wrong

Ever since Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law the most nauseating abortion legislation in the history of the United States on Wednesday, I have tried to find a worse decision by the lawmakers in any state to equal such absurdity and I most certainly cannot. While I am confident those in the State house would have voted differently had each been asked, “What if it was your ... (click for more)