Tennessee Supreme Court Increases Attorney's Punishment by Imposing a One-Year Suspension from the Practice of Law

August 4, 2017

The Tennessee Supreme Court has increased a hearing panel’s recommended punishment of a public censure and suspended Paul Julius Walwyn from the practice of law for one year.  He will serve six months of the suspension on active suspension and six months will be served on probation with a practice monitor.   The Court also required that Mr. Walwyn complete six additional hours of CLE on subjects related to the management of a law practice and/or client communication.

This disciplinary matter arose out of Mr. Walwyn’s representation of his client in a first degree murder trial.  Following the client’s conviction, Mr. Walwyn filed a motion for new trial, which was denied.  Mr. Walwyn failed to file a notice of appeal for three and a half years and failed to adequately communicate with his client in the interim.  The client filed this complaint during the delay in his proceedings, after which a late-filed notice of appeal was filed and was later accepted by the Court of Criminal Appeals.

The hearing panel determined that Mr. Walwyn had violated the Rules of Professional Conduct by not exhibiting the skill, thoroughness, or preparation necessary when representing his client; by failing to file a timely notice of appeal; by waiting three and a half years to file a motion to accept a delayed appeal; by failing to keep his client informed about the status of his case; by violating the Rules of Professional Misconduct; and by engaging in conduct that was prejudicial to the administration of justice with the above stated conduct.  Accordingly, the hearing panel imposed a public censure with the conditions that he be supervised by a practice monitor for one year and that he complete six additional hours of CLE on subjects related to the management of a law practice and/or client communication.

Neither the Board of Professional Responsibility nor Mr. Walwyn appealed the hearing panel’s decision.  The Tennessee Supreme Court then reviewed the discipline pursuant to Rule 9 of the Tennessee Supreme Court Rules and entered an order proposing to increase the punishment because it seemed inadequate.  After review, the Court, in a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Roger A. Page, concluded that a public censure was inadequate, particularly in light of Mr. Walwyn’s prior disciplinary record.  As a result, the Court increased the attorney’s discipline to one year on suspension with six months of the suspension on active suspension and six months to be served on probation with a practice monitor.  The Court also required that the attorney complete six additional hours of CLE on subjects related to the management of a law practice and/or client communication.

To read the Court’s opinion in In re: Paul Julius Walwyn, BPR #018263, authored by Justice Roger A. Page, go to the opinions section of TNCourts.gov