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TN Supreme Court Affirms Disciplinary Costs Owed by Attorney

Press release from the Tennessee Courts System; May 24, 2013:

The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled today that Knoxville attorney Herbert S. Moncier must pay the costs incurred prosecuting the disciplinary proceeding that resulted in his one-year suspension from the practice of law in Tennessee.

On June 1, 2011, the Supreme Court assessed costs totaling $22,038.32 against Mr. Moncier. Afterward, Mr. Moncier petitioned for relief from costs, arguing that the disciplinary proceedings resulting in his suspension were unfair and unconstitutional.

A three-member panel of the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility (BPR) refused to grant him relief from costs. Mr. Moncier appealed to the Supreme Court, again arguing that he should not be required to pay costs because the disciplinary proceedings that resulted in his suspension were unfair and unconstitutional. Mr. Moncier also argued that the members of the BPR panel assigned to hear his petition for relief from costs were biased against him.

The Supreme Court addressed and rejected Mr. Moncier’s arguments and affirmed the BPR panel’s decision denying him relief from costs. Among other things, the Court concluded that Tennessee’s attorney-disciplinary procedure is consistent with the due process requirements of the Tennessee and United States constitutions and that disqualification standards applicable to judges do not apply to members of the Board of Professional Responsibility.

To read Herbert S. Moncier v. Board of Professional Responsibility Opinion, authored by Justice Cornelia A. Clark, visit the Opinions section.

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Knoxville Attorney’s Reinstatement Reversed by State Supreme Court

Press release from the Tennessee Courts System; July 3, 2012:

Nashville, Tenn. – The Tennessee Supreme Court has reversed a lower court’s decision and reinstated a Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility (TBPR) hearing panel’s ruling suspending a Knoxville attorney due to misconduct.

While working at the Knoxville law firm of Kennerly, Montgomery & Finley, William S. Lockett, Jr. received payments for legal services and failed to remit those payments to the firm as required by his employment agreement. Lockett pleaded guilty to theft and to willful failure to file income tax returns. After considering all aggravating and mitigating factors, a TBPR hearing panel found that Lockett should be suspended for four years and, if reinstated, should be supervised for one year.

Lockett appealed to the Chancery Court of Knox County. Following oral argument, the chancery court applied additional mitigating factors and reduced the suspension to two years.

In a unanimous opinion, the Tennessee Supreme Court reversed the chancery court’s decision, holding that the chancery court failed to base its discipline modification on any of the criteria set forth in Supreme Court Rule 9, section 1.3. The Court conducted its own review of the hearing panel’s decision and agreed that the four-year suspension was consistent with sanctions imposed on other attorneys for similar criminal conduct.

To read the William S. Lockett, Jr. v. Board of Professional Responsibility opinion authored by Justice Janice M. Holder, visit http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/lockettwsopn.pdf.