Supreme Court Affirms Public Reprimand for Knoxville Attorney's Professional Misconduct

August 10, 2017
The Tennessee Supreme Court has affirmed a public reprimand for Knoxville attorney Danny C. Garland, II, based on his professional misconduct. 
 
In 2014, the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility filed a petition for discipline against Mr. Garland. The petition alleged, in part, that while handling an adoption case, Mr. Garland failed to communicate appropriately with his clients, failed to exercise reasonable diligence in his representation, and committed professional misconduct. A hearing panel found that Mr. Garland had violated the Rules of Professional Conduct and recommended that he be publicly reprimanded. The hearing panel considered his misconduct in handling the adoption case, his prior disciplinary record, and his experience in the practice of law. Mr. Garland appealed to the Knox County Chancery Court, which affirmed the hearing panel’s decision. Mr. Garland appealed to the Supreme Court.
 
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court. In an opinion authored by Justice Sharon G. Lee, the Court held that Mr. Garland failed to keep his client reasonably informed about the status of the adoption case, failed to promptly comply with his client’s requests for information, and failed to act with diligence in his representation, thereby causing a lengthy delay in the resolution of the adoption. In particular, the Court found Mr. Garland’s firm policies, practices, and procedures for communicating with clients and monitoring case files to be ineffective. The Court upheld public censure as an appropriate sanction for Mr. Garland’s professional misconduct.
 
In a dissenting opinion, Justice Holly Kirby determined that the Board of Professional Responsibility should have proceeded against Mr. Garland under the rules governing a lawyer’s supervision of and responsibility for the conduct of his nonlawyer staff. Because the Board failed to do so, the hearing panel did not make the proper findings for review by the Supreme Court.
 
To read the majority opinion authored by Justice Sharon G. Lee and the dissenting opinion of Justice Holly Kirby in Danny C. Garland, II v. Board of Professional Responsibility, visit the Opinions section of TNCourts.gov