Kent Thomas Jones, a Cleveland, Tn., attorney licensed to practice law in Tennessee, received a Public Censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Tennessee Supreme Court.
Mr. Jones received a $2,000 flat fee for the representation of a client on a DUI. The client signed a written fee agreement that said the fee was a flat fee. The fee agreement did not state that the fee was nonrefundable.
On the day of court, however, in September 2017, Mr. Jones appeared late, smelled of alcohol, and was acting erratically. Court personnel removed Mr. Jones from the courthouse, and he was later charged with public intoxication. By email later that day, Mr. Jones agreed to provide his client a full refund. The criminal charges against Mr. Jones were later dismissed.
In the two and a half years since then, Mr. Jones has made three partial reimbursement payments to his client amounting to $1,650. Mr. Jones did not keep the fee in his trust account.
By these acts, Mr. Jones has violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.15 (safekeeping funds), 8.4(b) (criminal conduct), 1.5 (fees) and 8.4(d) (prejudice to the administration of justice). He is hereby publicly censured for these violations with the condition that he refund $350 to his client within 60 days.
A Public Censure is a rebuke and warning to the attorney, but it does not affect the attorney’s ability to practice law.