'No one can stop me': Lawyer tells bar he isn’t really suspended, and it can't block his paralegal work
Kentucky lawyer Eric Deters in 2014. Screenshot from YouTube.
A Kentucky lawyer who says he is working as a paralegal at the law firm carrying his name claims to be retired, rather than suspended, which means that the Kentucky Bar Association has no authority to hold him in contempt for allegedly practicing law.
The Louisville Courier Journal has the story on Eric Deters, who once called Kentucky bar officials “jokes of human excrement.” He remained defiant in a response to the Kentucky Bar Association’s motion to hold him in contempt for practicing law while on suspension.
Deters wrote that he will “never shut up about the KBA and the legal system, and I will always work in law. No one can stop me from doing that.”
Deters maintains that the ethics rules he is accused of violating apply to suspended lawyers, not retired lawyers.
“If I am guilty of unauthorized practice of law—and I’m not—a prosecutor can charge me,” he said in his response. “I welcome the jury trial.”
The state bar filed the contempt motion after the Louisville Courier Journal reported that Deters had masterminded two federal suits seeking to halt a vaccine requirement for hospital employees.
The Kentucky bar had alleged that Deters violated its order to stop law practice by operating Deters Law in Independence, Kentucky, the Louisville Courier Journal reported in a prior story. The bar said no licensed attorney in the firm has the Deters name. Deters continues to use the firm name to solicit clients, draft pleadings and give advice, the bar said.
The Kentucky Supreme Court had refused to reinstate Deters in a June opinion noting that he has been suspended since 2013.
The opinion said Deters had run misleading commercials and social media posts that appeared to represent that he is a licensed lawyer in good standing. He also received “inappropriate compensation” in excess of $200,000 per year from 2013 through 2017. And his 2017 tax return listed Deters’ occupation as “attorney.”
The Kentucky Supreme Court opinion noted that Deters’ disciplinary history is mostly the result of an “aggressive litigation strategy.” A psychologist who had examined Deters in connection with his bid for reinstatement had written that Deters “is capable of ethical conduct if he chooses that path.”
The state supreme court concluded that Deters’ actions indicate a lack of respect for the profession and said he has “a notorious propensity to file malicious or frivolous lawsuits.”
The state supreme court said it agreed with Deters’ argument that it should adhere to his psychologist’s opinion.
“We do,” the Kentucky Supreme Court said. “Deters possesses the ability to follow the rules; he simply chooses not to.”
Hat tip to Above the Law.