The Board of Professional Responsibility of the Tennessee Supreme Court has recommended that District Attorney General Bill Gibson's law license remain suspended.
Gibson was re-elected last August to a new eight year term as District Attorney for the 13th Judicial District, which includes DeKalb County, but in September his law license was temporarily suspended after allegations surfaced that Gibson had corresponded with a convicted murderer, whom he had prosecuted, without the knowledge of the man's defense attorney
The letters from Gibson to Chris Adams allegedly offered legal and spiritual counseling
Since the suspension, Gibson has been trying to get his law license re-instated, but the three member panel of the BPR, which was appointed to hear the petition, issued a report Thursday stating that Gibson's actions in two cases during the past few years constituted a complete betrayal of his obligations to the people in his district as well as a willful disregard of his ethical obligations as a lawyer.
As the controversy was heating up over Gibson's letters to Adams, authorities discovered another case in which Gibson may have acted unethically. The D.A. is accused of trying to get the drug conviction of a Cookeville woman, set aside without telling the judge in the case about his friendship with the defendant, Tina Sweat.
According to the BPR panel's report, Gibson used the powers of his office to manipulate the system and deceive a judge in order to help Sweat and says his denial of that obvious truth was deeply alarming to the panel hearing his petition. The report further states that Gibson's denials of manipulating the system to help Sweat indicate that he is either willing to lie under oath to protect himself or lacks even a rudimentary understanding of his ethical responsibilities as a lawyer.
Gibson remains under investigation by the TBI
A brief news release issued by the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility on Thursday states that \"On September 25, 2006, the Supreme Court entered an Order temporarily suspending William E. Gibson from the practice of law. Mr. Gibson, through counsel, filed a Petition to Dissolve or Amend the temporary suspension on October 25, 2006. A hearing was held on March 25 and 26, 2007 before a panel of the Board of Professional Responsibility. On April 26, 2007, the Hearing Panel filed their Report and Recommendation finding that Mr. Gibson continues to pose a threat of substantial harm to the public and therefore the Panel recommends that Mr. Gibson's temporary suspension not be dissolved.
Another BPR-appointed panel of lawyers is expected to be chosen to decide how Gibson is to be disciplined for his alleged violations of ethics standards.