The Tennessee Supreme Court has publicly censured McMinn County attorney Paul Donald Rush for his conduct during a triple murder case that ended in a mistrial.
Rush, assistant district attorney in the 10th Judicial District, had faced three ethics allegations brought by the Board of Professional Responsibility, the disciplinary agency for lawyers in the state.
The board filed a petition for discipline against Rush on July 6, 2012, alleging that he committed ethical misconduct in the prosecution of a criminal case. A hearing panel determined Rush intentionally solicited a statement from a prosecution witness that had been prohibited by a court order prior to trial. Also, the panel found that Rush failed to report misconduct to the Board of Professional Responsibility as ordered by the trial court.
His actions were determined to have violated the following Rules of Professional Conduct: 3.4(c), Fairness to Opposing Party and Counsel, and 8.4(d), Misconduct.
A public censure is a rebuke and warning to a lawyer, but does not affect the lawyer's ability to practice law.
The case involved Michael Younger, who was on trial on three counts of murder and robbery in the 1999 Valentine's Day slayings in Cleveland, Tenn. He was freed when a mistrial was declared.