In re Justice, No. 1:11-MC-3

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Eastern District of Tennessee
Writing for the CourtCHIEF JUDGE REEVES
Docket NumberNo. 1:11-MC-3
Decision Date03 April 2020


No. 1:11-MC-3


April 3, 2020



This is an unusual matter of reciprocal attorney discipline regarding Loring Justice ("Justice"). Previously, Justice was subjected to attorney discipline in the Eastern District of Tennessee in the form of a six-month suspension due to unethical conduct before the Honorable District Judge Thomas W. Phillips. Subsequently, the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility initiated a separate disciplinary proceeding, during which Justice repeated numerous misrepresentations regarding his conduct, despite this Court's previous admonitions. Due to Justice's conduct and continued misrepresentations during the state disciplinary proceedings, Justice was disbarred in Tennessee effective August 1, 2019. Consequently, Justice is back before this Court for reciprocal discipline.

This Court issued a Show Cause Order noting Justice's discipline by the Tennessee Supreme Court and requiring Justice to demonstrate why disciplinary action should not be taken against him. [Doc. 81]. Upon Justice's response [Doc. 82], the matter was referred to the Honorable Christopher H. Steger, United States Magistrate Judge, for review and recommendation. [Doc. 83]; see E.D. TENN. L.R. 83.7(h).

This matter is now before the Court on the Report and Recommendation ("R&R") filed by Judge Steger [D. 91], regarding the disposition of the attorney discipline matter and Justice's Motions to Deem Show Cause Order Satisfied or Alternatively Request for Full Evidentiary

Page 2

Hearing" ("Hearing Motion"), [Doc. 85], and "Motion on Local Rule 83.5(a)(6) and Request for Application of Loring Justice to Eastern District of Tennessee" ("Local Rule Interpretation Motion"), [Doc. 87]. The R&R recommends that Justice be disbarred from the practice of law in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee. Further, the R&R recommends that this Court deny Justice's Hearing Motion and Local Rule Interpretation Motion. Justice then raised seven objections to the R&R. [Doc. 93].

For the reasons that follow, the Court finds Justice's objections to be without merit and all seven objections are overruled. The R&R will be adopted. Justice's Hearing Motion will be denied. Justice's Local Rule Interpretation Motion will be denied.

Further, the Court finds that Justice is no longer "entitled to practice in the court" of Tennessee, the state "identified on [Justice's] application for admission," as required by Local Rule 83.5(a)(6). No infirmities have been identified in the Tennessee disciplinary proceedings that would cause this Court to disregard that condition created by Justice's disbarment in the state of Tennessee. Consequently, the Court has determined that reciprocal disciplinary action is warranted, and Justice will be disbarred in the Eastern District of Tennessee.

I. Nature of the Proceedings

This Court has the inherent power and responsibility to oversee the conduct of attorneys that practice in the Eastern District of Tennessee. See In re Moncier, 550 F. Supp. 2d 768, 772 (E.D. Tenn. 2008); see also In re Landstreet, 490 F. App'x 698, 701-02 (6th Cir. 2012) ("The district court has inherent duty and responsibility to supervise the conduct of attorneys appearing before the court."). Attorney disciplinary proceedings are part and parcel of that solemn responsibility. "A disciplinary proceeding is neither criminal nor civil; rather, it is an investigation into the lawyer's conduct to determine whether the lawyer may continue to practice a profession

Page 3

that is imbued with the public interest and trust." In re Landstreet, 490 F. App'x at 702 (quotations omitted).

This Court requires that the attorneys of its bar "be currently admitted to practice in the highest court of a state, territory, or the District of Columbia." E.D. TENN. L.R. 83.5(a)(1). Once an attorney is admitted to the bar of the Eastern District of Tennessee, their admission entitles "an attorney to practice in this Court while and so long as he or she remains in good standing in this Court and is entitled to practice in the court of the state, territory, or District of Columbia identified on the attorney's application for admission." Id. at (a)(6). Consequently, when a member of this bar is no longer entitled to practice in the court of the state identified in their application to the Eastern District of Tennessee, that attorney is no longer entitled to practice in before the courts of the Eastern District of Tennessee.

Accordingly, "[t]he Court may also discipline any member who has been suspended or disbarred from the practice of law by the state in which he or she is a member, or by any court of record." E.D. TENN. L.R. 83.7(a). Commonly called "reciprocal discipline," this type of discipline flows from this Court's inherent authority to suspend or disbar lawyers due to the lawyer's role as an officer of the court which granted admission. In re Snyder, 472 U.S. 634, 643 (1985). When the professional standards for Tennessee attorneys, for attorneys in the Eastern District of Tennessee, or both, are violated, this Court bears the unwelcome, but necessary, task of imposing discipline upon the offending attorney. When an attorney transgresses both the standards of the bar of the Eastern District of Tennessee and the professional standards for all Tennessee attorneys, then duplicates that wrongdoing without contrition, as is the case here, this Court must solemnly and soberly impose an appropriate sanction for that attorney's misconduct.

Page 4

II. Background1

A. Initial Disciplinary Proceedings in the Eastern District of Tennessee

On September 26, 2011, then-Chief Judge Collier issued a Show Cause Order pursuant to Local Rule 83.7 informing Justice of several factual allegation that had been levied against Justice regarding a fee petition he had submitted during litigation before the Honorable Thomas Phillips, United States District Judge. Justice responded and Judge Collier held lengthy proceedings, including a substantial evidentiary hearing, to determine if Justice had engaged in unethical conduct. Judge Collier made numerous factual findings regarding Justice's conduct and found that Justice "engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation" and "intentionally offered evidence to the court that [Justice] knew to be false," among other findings of misconduct. [Doc. 25]. As a result of Judge Collier's findings, Justice was suspended for a term of six months.

B. State Disciplinary Proceedings

Justice's conduct was also reported to the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility (the "Board"). Tennessee's investigation was held in abeyance until this Court concluded its disciplinary action. Following Judge Collier's institution of discipline, the Board petitioned for state attorney discipline against Justice. The state disciplinary action came before a Hearing Panel of the Board of Professional Responsibility ("Hearing Panel"). During the proceedings before the Hearing Panel, Justice chose to testify in his own defense, but challenged the circumstances under which he chose to do so. Following the proceedings, the Hearing Panel made independent factual findings regarding Justice's unethical conduct regarding the fee petition, Justice's dishonesty before Judge Collier, and Justice's dishonesty before the Hearing Panel. These factual findings

Page 5

stood in accord with Judge Collier's previous factual findings. The Hearing Panel suspended Justice from the practice of law in Tennessee for one year.

Both Justice and the Board filed petitions for certiorari to the Chancery Court for Knox County, Tennessee (the "certiorari court"). Justice argued that his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination had been violated and the discipline was too severe; the Board argued that the discipline was too lenient, and that disbarment was appropriate. Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies considered the appeal on the record and briefs of the parties, and determined that disbarment was the appropriate remedy, though the certiorari court was "reluctant" to impose disbarment. Bd. of Prof'l Responsibility v. Justice, No. 189418-3, slip op. at 26 (Knox Cty. Ch. Ct. Feb. 2, 2017).2

Justice moved to alter or amend the judgment, in which he spewed a flurry of attacks on the integrity of Judge Davies, the certiorari court, and the Hearing Panel. Judge Davies then issued a Final Order, stating:

Although the Court believed the sanction of disbarment was justified in this case, the Court acknowledges it was reluctant to impose such a severe sanction on Mr. Justice. However, any lingering doubt as to the disbarment of Mr. Justice has been obliterated by his motion to alter or amend. Justice blames everyone and everything for his predicament, other than his own misconduct. He impugns the Panel by suggesting they were motivated by a desire to curry favor with the Federal District Court. He impugns the integrity of the Board by suggesting that this entire proceeding is a "payback" because he represented clients who filed a complaint against an attorney with the Board. He impugns the integrity of the court reporter by suggesting that she destroyed her audio recording of one of the hearing days. He has made false assertions in his pleadings such as "the Board never requested Justice produce [the hand-written time records]." He has suggested that disciplinary counsel and the Court have had inappropriate communications, which is completely untrue. Finally, his pleadings demonstrate a

Page 6

complete lack of respect and distain for the Court and this disciplinary proceeding.

Bd. of Prof'l Responsibility v. Justice, No. 189418-3, slip op. at 13 (Knox Cty. Ch. Ct. May 31, 2017).

The state disciplinary matter then came before the Tennessee Supreme Court on appeal, and the...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT