Hamilton County attorney suspended for sending threatening emails, failing to safe-keep client’s funds

Staff photo / A person exits the Hamilton County-Chattanooga Courts Building in 2016. Hamilton County attorney Kent Thomas Jones is suspended from practicing law for 90 days.
Staff photo / A person exits the Hamilton County-Chattanooga Courts Building in 2016. Hamilton County attorney Kent Thomas Jones is suspended from practicing law for 90 days.


A Hamilton County attorney has been suspended from practicing law after sending threatening or derogatory emails to one of his clients and opposing counsel in two separate matters.

Kent Thomas Jones was suspended effective Monday for 90 days, the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility announced in a statement.

Jones also did not properly maintain his client's funds in a trust account and failed to satisfy a lien obligation in time, which caused a client to suffer actual harm, the statement said.

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The board's hearing panel found Jones violated several Tennessee professional conduct rules, including diligence, safekeeping of property and funds, respect for the rights of third persons and engaging in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, the statement said.

Jones received an order of enforcement, so he likely disputed some or all of the alleged rule violations that led to his suspension. He did not respond Wednesday to requests for comment by phone and email.

He has been licensed in the state since 1999.

When a hearing panel or court enters an order finding violations by an attorney, those facts and rule violations are not agreed upon by the attorney, Sandy Garrett, chief disciplinary counsel for the Board of Professional Responsibility, said.

Public censures are different, Garrett said. An attorney can choose not to request a hearing and/or enter a conditional plea to formal disciplinary charges filed by the board.

"Then, the respondent attorney has agreed to the facts and rule violations included in the press release issued by the board," Garrett said in an email.

Jones received a public censure four years ago for allegedly showing up to court drunk to represent a client in a driving under the influence case, the censure states.

The client signed a written agreement with Jones and paid a $2,000 flat fee for his representation.

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On the day of court, Jones allegedly showed up late, smelled of alcohol and acted erratically, the censure states. He was removed from the courtroom, and he was later charged with public intoxication.

Jones' criminal charges were eventually dismissed.

He agreed to provide his client with a full refund but had still not paid the client back in full about three years after the incident, the censure states.

Jones was reprimanded for the alleged violations with the condition that he refund the remaining $350 to his client within 60 days.

Contact Sofia Saric at ssaric@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476.


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