Attorney Burkhalter demonstrated pretty clear incompetence> Credit Tennessee for quickly addressing the issue and dispensing an appropriate disciplinary penalty of 3-year suspension.
The Tennessee Supreme Court’s Board of Professional Responsibility has suspended Ted Austin “Tab” Burkhalter Jr. for three years, including a one-year active suspension and the remainder on probation. He was the managing partner at Burkhalter & Burkhalter, 605 Smithview Drive, Maryville.
In October 2010, the Blount County Commission appointed Burkhalter to fill a seat vacated by Shawn Carter Sr., who resigned only two hours after being sworn into office. Carter, who was employed by the U.S. Postal Service as a letter carrier at that time, resigned due to the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity.
Burkhalter did not seek re-election four years later in order to pursue the General Sessions Court Division II/Juvenile Court judgeship that was won by Kenlyn Foster. In 2016, he sought to be a delegate for Mike Huckabee at the Republican National Convention.
The BPR suspension is tied to a four-year-old probate case in which he represented the executrix of an estate, Burkhalter said, in an interview Tuesday night with The Daily Times. He prepared a waiver of accounting and inventory calling for the signatures of three persons.
The attorney said he brought the documents to the female executor’s house but didn’t see every person sign it. He later picked up the document and saw it had three signatures, then notarized the three signatures appearing on the waiver.
Burkhalter filed the pleading with the court. He regrets that decision now, because it was “considered a superfluous document” and “wasn’t a necessary” filing.
“Nearly three years later, we were closing out the estate and one of the people said a signature wasn’t theirs,” he said. “I had no proof that it was signed by the person or that it wasn’t, because I never saw it.”
However, the BPR release says “one of those signatures was not made by the person whose signature it purports to be.”
Burkhalter’s clients were family friends, and he would have “never thought” something would happen that day. “I made a mistake, and I firmly believe that it’s important to accept responsibility for our actions and admit when we make a mistake. That’s what I’ve always taught my girls. Everybody wants to blame someone else nowadays, but that’s not right. I made a mistake, and I’m the one who has to suffer.”
As part of Burkhalter’s suspension, he won’t be able to advise clients on legal matters. However, his father, Ted Austin Burkhalter Sr., will be able to advise them, as will other staff members.
The younger Burkhalter also operates Burkhalter & Associates and serves as its managing partner. His legal suspension will not prohibit any of his certified public accounting, continued professional education, guardian, tax or trustee work, he said.
As a condition of his probation, Burkhalter must commit no further acts of misconduct, must be evaluated by Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program and must submit to a monitoring agreement if deemed appropriate by TLAP. He also must pay court costs totaling $2,865 within 90 days.
Source: The Daily Times