Hawkins juvenile judge censured for rules violations in private practice

Jeff Bobo • Jul 1, 2019 at 6:30 PM

ROGERSVILLE — Hawkins County Juvenile Court Judge Daniel Boyd was censured last week by the Tennessee Supreme Court as a result of allegations that he lied to clients in his private law practice in 2017 regarding the status of a property dispute case.

Boyd's law license was suspended for 120 days last year as a result of a separate case in which Boyd admitted to “dishonesty” with regards to a client in his private law practice.

A link containing information about that 2018 suspension can be found in the online version of this article at www.timesnews.net

Although Boyd's law license remains on probation until 2021, Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility (TBPR) chief counsel Sandy Garrett told the Times News on Monday this latest censure pertains to rules violations that occurred prior to probation being imposed.

In this latest case, Boyd entered into a conditional plea with the TBPR admitting that his actions violated the Rules of Professional Conduct regarding diligence, communication, expediting litigation, and misconduct.

A public censure is a rebuke and a warning to the attorney and doesn't affect that attorney's ability to practice law.

In February 2018, Bobby Honaker of Johnson City filed a complaint with the TBPR against Boyd alleging ethical misconduct pertaining to a Hawkins County land dispute lawsuit that Boyd took over for him and other family members beginning in September 2015 after the original attorney stepped down.

That Hawkins County Chancery Court lawsuit, which was seeking an easement to land-locked property, was dismissed in April 2016 for failure to prosecute.

During a meeting with Honaker in January 2017 Boyd allegedly stated that the defendant's attorney, Joe May, didn't appear for a hearing in their lawsuit.

At that time, there was no lawsuit, nor was there a hearing that May failed to attend.

The complaint against Boyd alleged that he had made false statements intended to make the Honaker family believe he was working on their case when he wasn't.

In September 2017, Boyd allegedly told Honaker the case was set for that November.

Boyd was later contacted by William Rogers, a family member involved in the case, in October 2017 asking for the lawsuit to be settled before he had to leave the country on National Guard deployment.

Boyd allegedly told Rogers he would set a hearing in November 2017.

The complaint alleged that Boyd's statements were, again, false and intended to make the Honaker family believe he was working on their case when he wasn't.

In his response to the complaint, Boyd noted that shortly after he was hired in this case, the Honakers and Rogers purchased a small tract of land to gain access to their property, and he believed the easement issue was moot.

Boyd also admitted to making statements that he was working on the case because he intended on working on the case later.

As with the issues that led to his law license suspension last year, Boyd pointed to the overwhelming demands of managing his private law practice and the duties of juvenile judge as excuses for the violations.

“Many times when I would begin to focus on this matter, I would get pulled away to examine emergency custody petitions for Juvenile Court or handle phone calls on separate matters, other clients or other tasks,” Boyd stated. “As a result, this matter would fall through the cracks.”

Boyd further stated, “I do believe I did not adequately communicate with either of the Honakers or Mr. Rogers, nor did I adequately focus on this case.”

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