After disciplining Nashville lawyer Mike Sneed 13 times in the past 18 years and seeing him violate the terms of his most recent suspension on a whopping 50 different occasions, the Tennessee Supreme Court today permanently revoked his law license and found him guilty of criminal contempt.
The high court, which regulates the practice of law in the state through its Board of Professional Responsibility, sentenced Sneed to 50 days in jail and a $2,500 fine on the contempt charges. It ordered him to surrender to the Davidson County Sheriff’s Department within fifteen days to serve his sentence. Its order is available at this link.
Attorney General Bob Cooper sued Sneed last June on behalf of the Division of Consumer Affairs, claiming he was continuing to practice law even though his law license had been suspended in March for 18 months. The BPR imposed that penalty after finding Sneed had been "neglecting client files, failing to communicate with his clients and failing to keep adequate trust account records."
The contempt charges arose from an investigation by court-appointed Special Master Barbara Moss, an attorney with Norris & Norris in Nashville. Moss reported to the court that since being suspended, Sneed had failed to withdraw from pending cases, taken on new clients and told judges that he was not under suspension.
Moss said she was "especially concerned" that Sneed "took money from vulnerable people promising legal services that he could not deliver." She said his "repeated and egregious conduct" warranted the harshest penalties available under the law.
In 2006, Sneed was at the center of controversy after the Nashville Scene reported that he took advantage of Hispanic clients referred to him by Nolensville Road entrepreneur Carmen Ceja. In a separate ruling today confirming Sneed's disbarment, available at this link, the Supreme Court recounted several episodes in which Sneed's legal representation led to detrimental outcomes for Hispanic clients.