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Walker v. Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee

Supreme Court of Tennessee
38 S.W. 3d 540 (2001)


Ted Walker (defendant) was a divorce attorney in Tennessee. Walker was not certified as a specialist in civil trial practice, which included divorce law. Walker advertised his services by placing advertisements in local newspapers. Tennessee’s Code of Professional Responsibility Disciplinary Rule (DR) 2-101 required attorneys who advertised that they practiced a certain area of the law, but were not certified in that area, to include a disclaimer stating that they were not certified. In one advertisement, Walker specifically mentioned divorce law without providing the requisite disclaimer regarding his certification status. In a second advertisement, Walker included a disclaimer but did not adhere to the exact wording of the requisite disclaimer. The Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee (Board) (plaintiff) learned of Walker’s advertisements and filed disciplinary petitions against Walker. The Board found Walker to be in violation of DR 2-101 and issued a private reprimand. Walker sought review in chancery court, which upheld the Board’s decision. Walker petitioned the state supreme court for review, arguing that the sanction should be reversed because DR 2-101 violated the First Amendment to the Constitution.

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Holding and Reasoning (Drowota, J.)

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