published Saturday, January 11th, 2014

Chattanooga lawyer suspended

The law license of Jesse Walker Dalton III, who practices in Chattanooga, has been suspended for one year for violating rules of professional conduct, a news release states.

The Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility said a former paralegal and a former associate filed complaints in February 2013 that Dalton appeared late for court and client meetings, missed client conferences, failed to return phone calls to clients in a timely way, appeared in the office with slurred speech, glazed eyes and disheveled dress and fell asleep during client meetings. The board also found that Dalton received a cash retainer and failed to deposit the retainer into his trust account.

The release stated that Dalton admitted violating Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3 (diligence), 1.4 (communication), 1.15 (safekeeping property and funds), 1.16 (declining or terminating representation) and 8.4 (a) and (d) (misconduct).

It said Dalton already is under suspension for not complying with continuing legal education requirements, and that the disciplinary suspension will begin when he is reinstated from the current one.

The board ordered Dalton to serve a three-month active suspension, with the remaining nine months probated subject to certain terms and conditions, such as engaging a practice monitor and an assessment by the Tennessee Lawyer's Assistance Program.

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