A lawyer was reprimanded after officials alleged he came to court reeking of alcohol and was charged with public intoxication.
The Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee said this occurred while Kent Thomas Jones was representing a client in a DUI case. In a phone interview, he claimed he was never proven to have been inebriated. According to the censure memo dated Thursday, the attorney showed up late to court in September 2017 smelling of alcohol and was “acting unevenly,” officials said. Staff tossed Jones out of the courthouse, and the letter stated he was charged with public intoxication.
The defendant had paid the attorney a $2,000 flat fee, according to this account. On the day of the mishap, Jones agreed to refund the client his entire amount, officials said. His case regarding public intoxication was dismissed later. From the memo: “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.” The attorney was ordered to pay the unexpended $350, and the board gave Jones two months to do so. As part of the punishment, the lawyer was said to have “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).”
The rebuke did not impact Jone’s capability to practice law. The board merely gave him a warning. Under the censure, Jones noted he has already given a money order for the $350 and consummated his duty. Still, he stated that he felt that he had paid $2,100 already to the defendant before the censure, however, he failed to verify this because the checks were formulated under a closed out business account. Also, the lawyer added that the lone reason to put such monies in a trust account is if there were intermingled funds (belonging to numerous persons); though, in this instance that wasn’t the case.
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