JOHNSON CITY - A Johnson City attorney suspended from practice following charges that he encouraged a client to lie in court has pleaded no contest to attempted subornation of aggravated perjury.
Scott Pratt, 50, 200 Lake Meadow Drive, entered the plea agreement in Washington County Criminal Court on Wednesday. In exchange for his plea, he was sentenced to 11 months and 29 days of unsupervised probation. A contempt of court charge filed against him as a result of the same incident was dismissed.
In pleading no contest, Pratt continued to maintain his innocence but later apologized for a November 2005 e-mail that initiated the charges.
Explaining the incident, Pratt said he was preparing for the trial of a woman who had told him three or four different stories about her arrest on a drunken driving charge nearly two years earlier.
Pratt said he first sent the woman an e-mail in which he "was encouraging her to stick with the first story she told me," and she replied with an e-mail that accused him of trying to get her to lie.
"That's when I sent her that stupid e-mail," Pratt said.
"I made some mistakes. And I want to apologize for embarrassing a lot of attorneys around here. That e-mail was flippant. It was stupid. But there wasn't any malice in it."
Pratt said he will contest a forgery charge subsequently filed against him in Sullivan County for allegedly forging a client's signature on a probation hearing waiver form.
"I had my client's permission. He did not want a probation hearing. Two months later, he did," Pratt said.
Pratt is scheduled appear in Sullivan County Criminal Court on the forgery charge in June, at which time he said he will request a trial.
Pratt was represented by Knoxville attorney Ralph Harwell on Wednesday and has advised the Sullivan County court that former District Attorney General David Crockett will handle his case there.
The Tennessee Supreme Court's Board of Professional Responsibility suspended Pratt's license to practice law two months after Criminal Court Judge Lynn Brown cited him for contempt of court for the Nov. 30, 2005, e-mail which stated, "Everyone lies in criminal court, including the cops."
Citing a potential for public harm, the board suspended Pratt's law license without a hearing of complaints filed against him following the contempt citation but allowed Pratt the right to immediately contest the suspension.
Pratt said Wednesday he has no intention to return to practice.
"I was suspended before I had an opportunity to respond to things that were filed against me," he said. "This goes back a couple of years. It was a personal vendetta. And I have no interest in ever putting myself in that situation again.
"I've moved on. They haven't."
Asked about his future, Pratt said he has written a couple of books he hopes to publish and is "working hard, trying to raise my family and get this behind us."