Smith v. Board of Professional ResponsibilityAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Court reversed the ruling of the chancery court reversing the decision of a hearing panel denying Attorney’s petition to be reinstated to the practice of law in Tennessee following his disbarment and ordering Attorney reinstated, holding that the chancery court misapplied the applicable standard of review.
In 2007, Attorney pleaded guilty to federal charges of receipt and possession of images depicting child pornography. In 2008, Attorney consented to his disbarment. In 2014, after he was discharged from prison and while on probation, Attorney petitioned to be reinstated to the practice of law. The Board of Professional Responsibility opposed the petition. The Supreme Court held that substantial and material proof supported the panel’s conclusion that Attorney had failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence his moral qualifications for reinstatement, and that the chancery court impermissibly reweighed the evidence in the record before it.
Authoring Judge: Chief Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins
Trial Court Judge: Special Judge William B. Acree
Drayton Beecher Smith, II ( Attorney ) pled guilty in 2007 to federal charges of receipt and possession of images depicting child pornography and was sentenced to five years of imprisonment. In conjunction with these charges, Attorney consented to his disbarment, which was ordered in 2008. In August 2014, after being discharged from prison and while on probation, Attorney petitioned to be reinstated to the practice of law in Tennessee. The Board of Professional Responsibility ( BPR ) opposed Attorney s petition, and a hearing panel was appointed ( the Panel ). After an evidentiary hearing, the Panel denied Attorney s petition. Attorney sought review in chancery court, and the chancery court reversed the Panel s decision and ordered Attorney reinstated. The BPR sought review in this Court. Initially, we hold that the chancery court had subject-matter jurisdiction of Attorney s petition in spite of the BPR s untimely filing of its application for costs. We further hold that the chancery court misapplied the applicable standard of review and thereby committed reversible error. Accordingly, we reverse the chancery court s ruling and reinstate the Panel s decision.