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New hearing date set in Butler case

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By Damon Lawrence

By DAMON LAWRENCE
dlawrence@roanecounty.com

Attorneys Donice Butler and Chris Cawood participated in a conference call Wednesday morning to discuss a new scheduling order for Butler’s disciplinary hearing.

The Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility, which oversees the conduct of attorneys, is seeking to have Butler punished over allegations that she violated rules of professional conduct.

The board filed a petition for discipline against Butler on May 3, 2012.
Cawood, who has successfully taken on the board on charges against him, is representing her in the matter.

A hearing before a panel comprised of three attorneys was scheduled to take place in Roane County July 18-19, but was postponed because of a supplemental petition filed by the board on July 12.

Members of the hearing panel along with an attorney for the board participated in the conference call with Cawood and Butler.

The new hearing dates are Nov. 18-21.

Cawood and Butler said they need four days now, instead of two, because of the allegations contained in the new petition.

“The former policeman who filed, we have several witnesses concerning his background and things that would need to come out,” Cawood said. “I’m looking at four days.”

The new petition contains allegations made against Butler by Tom Hogan, a former Harriman police officer, who was fired in 2009. In that case, Hogan accuses Butler of mishandling his wrongful-termination case with the city.

Another allegation in the new petition dates back to 2008.

“Going back five years, that’s really grasping at straws,” Cawood said.

Cawood and Butler said the board’s case is weak and accused it of trying to stall by filing the supplemental petition so close to the July hearing date.

“I’ve been in that same position before,” Cawood said. “If I have a very weak case, I want to change it to get something I think might finally stick. Unfortunately, I don’t think any of this will stick, either.”

A hearing before the three-member panel was also postponed this past January. Butler expressed skepticism about the November hearing going forward as planned.

“I worry about it, because I’m not sure about some of the people we intend to depose, and if it’s going to require permission from the court,” she said. “Hopefully we can get it done. I’m certainly prepared to do what I’ve got to do to get it done, and I know Mr. Cawood is.”

Among Cawood’s legal fights with the board was a disciplinary hearing over a sexual tryst he had with two women in his law office.

In 2008 the hearing panel selected for his case determined no discipline was warranted.

Cawood later wrote a book criticizing the board.

He called the book: “The Board of Unprofessional Irresponsibility.”