NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — McMinn County attorney Joseph H. Crabtree’s suspension from the practice of law was increased to three years, according to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court increased Crabtree’s suspension to three years, with one served on active suspension and the remainder on probation.

The Board of Professional Responsibility Hearing Panel concluded that Crabtree violated several Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct, including violations of the duties of diligence, communication, conflict of interest and expediting litigation, among others.

They identified four aggravating factors, including multiple offenses, prior disciplinary history, substantial experience in the practice of law and refusal to acknowledge the wrongful nature of much of his conduct.

Over the past two years, four complaints were filed with “The Board” against Crabtree, who has been a licensed attorney since 1985. The complaints alleged a lack of communication and follow-up with clients, missed deadlines and incomplete work.

According to the Supreme Court, a client discovered her case has been dismissed when she went to the court clerk’s office seeking information. The costs were assessed to the client and she was not informed. The court believes that Crabtree allowed the statutes of limitations to expire on claims despite the clients bringing their cases to Crabtree with sufficient time to file them.

Crabtree and two clients testified at the disciplinary hearing but Crabtree was not able to provide mitigating factors.

The court said Crabtree filed to appeal in the McMinn County Chancery Coury but failed to file the transcript, his brief or a response to the Board’s motion to dismiss. He also tried to file an appeal with the Tennessee Supreme Court, but it was dismissed because he reportedly failed to file a transcript and follow the Rules of Appellate Procedure.

The Hearing Panel imposed a two-year suspension, with six months served on active suspension and the remainder on probation.

The Supreme Court concluded the original suspension imposed by Hearing Panel was inconsistent with the serious nature of Crabtree’s conduct and the discipline ordered in similar cases.

The Board filed a notice of the submission and an order of enforcement with the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court proposed, under the authority provided in Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9, increasing the punishment, in this case, to ensure uniformity across the state.

“The Supreme Court thoroughly reviewed the record and noted Mr. Crabtree’s apathetic and unconcerned attitude toward his professional obligations, including the proceedings against him. The Court agreed with the aggravating factors identified by the Hearing Panel and found a pattern of disregarding ethical obligations toward clients and neglecting court orders,” according to the news release.