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Hawkins juvenile judge's law license suspended for admitted 'dishonesty'

Jeff Bobo • Oct 18, 2017 at 5:15 PM

ROGERSVILLE — Hawkins County Juvenile Judge Daniel Boyd has agreed to a 120-day law license suspension for violating three rules of professional conduct pertaining to admitted "dishonesty" in his private law practice.

Boyd has also agreed to accept three years of probation and submit to additional training in the areas of ethics and/or management of his law practice.

Although a disciplinary hearing board approved Boyd's guilty plea and punishment earlier this month, it must also be approved by the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility (TBPR) and the Tennessee Supreme Court before the suspension takes effect.

Boyd had the option of contesting the allegations in a public hearing before a TBPR disciplinary hearing board. 

The Hawkins County Commission will have to appoint an interim juvenile judge while Boyd is suspended. Only the Tennessee General Assembly can remove an elected judge permanently through impeachment proceedings.

A complaint was filed against Boyd last year by the children of an elderly widow who suffers dementia and was seeking a claim from the will of her late husband.

The late husband has children from a previous marriage, and in September 2010, Boyd agreed to represent the widow by filing a petition for her late husband's elective share.

Over the course of the next five years, Boyd reportedly lied to the widow and her children on multiple occasions, stating that the petition for elective share had been filed and was progressing normally.

Instead, it has never been filed. In addition, the time period during which it could be filed expired and the widow became ineligible to continue seeking her claim.

Boyd also allegedly lied about court dates being rescheduled; he falsely blamed delays on the step-sons for retaining an attorney, and he falsely stated that two of three step-sons had "signed the house over to her" and that the signed paperwork was on Chancellor Doug Jenkins' desk for him to sign.

In 2013, Boyd presented the widow with a check for $5,000, which he claimed was from her husband's estate but was actually paid from his own personal funds to hide the fact that he hadn't properly represented her.

In his response to the complaint, Boyd admitted that he was dishonest with the daughters when they contacted him seeking an update on the progress of their mother's claim.

Boyd stated in his response that after he took over as "part-time" Hawkins County Juvenile Judge in 2011, the job consumed nearly all of his professional time.

"After being appointed, my calendar workweek became almost unmanageable," Boyd stated in his response to the TBPR. "It was at this time my conduct toward (the widow's) family became dishonest. I found myself being overwhelmed, telling them I was working on (the widow's) case."

Boyd further stated, "For all intents and purposes, I expected to work on their case. Unfortunately, I found myself not having the time to work on the case and leading them to believe I was. In hindsight, I should have either referred them to my father, who is my law partner, or referred them to another attorney. It has never been my intent to harm or cause harm to (the widow) or her family. I admittedly was overwhelmed and did not handle the situation appropriately."

There was also an allegation of conflict of interest. Boyd represents the daughter of one of the widow's step-sons, but he stated in his response to the TBPR he wasn't aware of the connection until 2016.

Boyd has agreed to plead guilty before the TBPR to violating three Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct: diligence, truthfulness in statements to others and misconduct.    

RELATED: How will Daniel Boyd's law license suspension affect his judgeship?                                                     

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