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More trouble for embattled lawyer

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By Damon Lawrence

Attorney Spence Bruner of Roane County could find himself in more trouble following Tuesday’s decision by the Court of Criminal Appeals to hold him in contempt of court.

“The Board of Professional Responsibility will be notified,” Judge Joseph M. Tipton said.

The Board of Professional Responsibility oversees the conduct of attorneys for the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Bruner has been disciplined by the board on several occasions.

He was censured in September 2005. Bruner’s infractions in that case, according to the board, included failing to adequately respond to clients’ request for information, failing to file a timely motion to withdraw from a case and failing to appear at a hearing.

“In several instances in investigation of these complaints, Mr. Bruner did not respond to additional requests for information from disciplinary counsel,” the board said.

In January 2008, the board temporarily suspended Bruner upon finding that he failed to substantially comply with his Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Monitoring Agreement.

He was also suspended in September of 2008.

“Mr. Bruner submitted a conditional guilty plea agreeing to be suspended for 90 days, retroactive to Mr. Bruner’s temporary suspension on Jan. 29, 2008, and further agreeing to be on probation for three years,” the board said. “Mr. Bruner’s actions violated the rules of professional conduct.”

Bruner was temporarily suspended again in March of 2011.

The board said the suspension was due to his substantial noncompliance with his monitoring program agreement.

Bruner was reinstated a month later after a hearing panel recommended the temporary suspension be dissolved.

The Court of Criminal Appeals found Bruner in contempt for his willful failures to comply with orders of the court.

He was harshly admonished by the three-judge panel.

“There has been such a lack of compliance here beginning last March that I don’t know if I can
fully believe that you are fully in compliance with other courts and all that they require,” Tipton said.