Second petition against lawyer postpones hearing

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By Damon Lawrence

The disciplinary hearing for Harriman attorney Donice Butler that was scheduled to take place this week at the Roane County Courthouse has been postponed.
The Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility, which oversees the conduct of attorneys, filed a petition for discipline against Butler in May 2012.
Another one was filed on Friday.
“The board has requested the hearing be continued due to a supplemental petition that is before the hearing panel,” Rita Webb, the executive secretary for the board, said.
Butler called it a stall tactic by the board.
“This gives the board another reason to continue the case again,” she said. “These are complaints that could have been brought up in the first petition, but they weren’t.”
“These are the same group of individuals, and this is something that I have pointed out to the board and asked that they please pay attention to the parties involved,” Butler added. “There is a relationship between the complainants and a couple of attorneys that I am at odds with.”
One of the complaints in the new petition has to do with Tom Hogan, a former Harriman police officer.
According to the petition, Butler filed a grievance for Hogan with the Harriman Police Board on Oct. 27, 2009.
“A hearing was conducted by the police board on Nov. 16, 2009, and the board issued a ruling on Nov. 18, 2009, upholding Mr. Hogan’s termination,” the petition said.
“Despite Mr. Hogan’s desire to pursue review of the police board’s decision, Ms. Butler did not seek judicial review of the board’s decision within 60 days of the ruling.”
Butler filed a complaint in Roane County Circuit Court in October 2010 alleging wrongful termination of Hogan by the Harriman Police Department.
“On Jan. 9, 2012, counsel for the defendants filed a notice of setting the motion to dismiss for summary judgement, and served a copy of the notice on Ms. Butler,” the petition said.
“Ms. Butler did not file a response to the defendants’ motion and failed to appear at the hearing. An order was entered on Jan. 27, 2012, granting the defendants’ motion and dismissing Mr. Hogan’s case.”
The board accuses Butler of violating the rules of professional conduct on competence, diligence and communication.
Margie Delozier retained Butler in June 2008 to defend her against a lawsuit. According to the petition, Delozier later hired attorney Mark Foster and fired Butler.
“On Oct. 28, 2008, Mr. Foster sent a letter by facsimile to Ms. Butler informing her that Ms. Delozier had terminated Ms. Butler and retained him,” the petition states.
Butler is accused of authorizing attorney Tom McFarland to sign her name to an agreed order after her services were terminated.
“By agreeing to a settlement not authorized by her client and signing an agreed order after being terminated by her client, and in direct contravention of her former client’s instructions, Ms. Butler violated rules of professional conduct 1.2 (a) (scope of representation), 1.16 (a) (3) (termination of representation), 1.4 (communication), 3.3 (candor to the tribunal) and 8.4 (d) (prejudice to the administration of justice),” the petition states.
Butler said Friday that she is disappointed, shocked and angry about the latest petition.
“I think the prior petition was so weak that once they began looking into it that they had to pile on some other things to save face,” she said.
“I don’t appreciate it.”
Butler, who is represented by attorney Chris Cawood, said she intends to prevail.
“I feel disappointed that the taxpayers of this state are even paying for this,” she said.
“I think when the truth comes out at the hearing, it’s going to be a total waste of taxpayer money and resources.”