by Toby Sells
A Memphis attorney has been disbarred by the Tennessee Supreme Court and will have to pay restitution to two of his past clients for “dishonesty, deceit, and misrepresentation.”
The board found that Skouteris accepted and deposited settlement checks for six clients but failed to maintain sufficient funds in his trust account to cover the settlement payment back to those clients. He failed to deliver timely payments to some of his clients. He also deposited one settlement into a personal operating account.
Also, he “failed to provide competent representation” to clients and did not respond to their requests for information. He did not use written contingency fee agreements, which guarantee payments to an attorney only if money is won in a settlement or trial.
Finally, Skouteris failed to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility on three complaints of misconduct.
“By his conduct, Mr. Skouteris engaged in dishonesty, deceit, and misrepresentation, and engaged in conduct that was prejudicial to the administration of justice,” according to a news release from the Board of Professional Responsibility.
According to a November judgment from the Supreme Court, Skouteris was disciplined by the board in 1997, 2000, and 2003.
In 1997, the attorney was informally punished for withholding money from two clients to pay their medical bills and issuing worthless checks to their medical providers.
In 2000, he was censured by the board for withholding money from clients to pay their medical bills, failing to pay medical their medical providers, and failing to maintain the clients’ settlement proceeds in his trust accounts. For this, he had to attend a board workshop on ethics, complete six hours of ethics education, speak at three seminars on how he mismanaged his trust account, have that trust account monitored for the year 2000, and submit quarterly reports to a disciplinary counsel during that period.
The most recent case against him comes from six complaints of misconduct from 2007 to 2011. They all deal with mismanagement of settlement accounts.
The board asked Skouteris to explain some of these failures and he testified that he had been going through tough times personally, had lost both of his parents, had gone through a divorce, and tore his Achilles tendon. But maintained that he was still a “good lawyer, not such a great accountant.”