Via Jim Hannah, Enquirer.com
INDEPENDENCE – Outspoken attorney Eric Deters said he is so frustrated with Kentucky’s disciplinarian process for lawyers that he is prepared to resign from the state’s bar association and just practice in Ohio.
After Deters completed a 60-day suspension on Nov. 8 for ethical lapses in Kentucky, the state’s chief disciplinarian for lawyers objected to the reinstatement of Deters’ license. Deters, still unable to pratice law, filed a federal lawsuit in Cincinnati on Wednesday that accused the state’s chief disciplinarian of participating in “legal torture” and “legal terrorism.”
The lawsuit seeks to get Deters reinstated.
Deters wrote in the lawsuit that until Kentucky reinstates him he can’t practice law in Ohio. That’s because two states have a reciprocal agreement that if a lawyer gets sanctioned in one state the same sanction applies in the other state.
Deters’ attorney, Larry Forgy of Frankfort, said the Kentucky suspension was because Deters cited the wrong legal entity in a civil case about eight years ago in Campbell Count concerning a dispute over home repairs.
Forgy added that the state’s chief disciplinarian cited additional, pending, disciplinary proceedings as the grounds not to reinstatement Deters’ license. The additional, pending, disciplinary proceedings are secret, but Forgy said they are for alleged ethical lapses and not because of anything sinister or illegal.
“I think Eric is not subordinate enough to the powers-to-be at the bar association,” said Forgy, a former Republican gubernatorial candidate in Kentucky. “Eric is 180 pounds of pugnacious rascality. He is the most successful lawyer in the tristate area. There is a lot of jealousy towards him.”
Deters also served a 120 suspension in 2012 for ethical lapses.
Kentucky Bar Association President Thomas Rouse referred questions about the current suspension to the bar’s spokeswoman, who declined to comment on the pending litigation.
Deters wrote that the bar association has put him in such a terrible situation that he “has reached the point of desperation.”
In an uncharacteristic move for Deters – who once took on a foe in a cage fight watched by hundreds at an Indiana fairgrounds – wrote that he was tired of fighting but the bar association seemed bent on not stopping until he was destroyed.
In a reference to the widely reported high rate of suicides of Kentucky lawyers, Deters wrote he found it amusing that the bar association claimed to be concerned about lawyers killing themselves when the association’s chief enforcer of lawyer ethics was trying his best to completely destroy Deters.
“Yesterday, the stress of what they are doing put me in the hospital by ambulance with heart stress,” he wrote on Oct. 14 in a document that was filed as an exhibit to the federal lawsuit. “Would killing be enough for them? That’s what they are doing to me.”
Deters wrote that bar counsel “punishes relentlessly with stress caused by their action. It’s financial, emotional, client related, staff related, family related, health related and everything related. They have no conscience.”
Deters compared his struggle with the bar association to Elvis Presley’s song, “Lord, You Gave Me a Mountain.”
“Bar Counsel keeps giving me mountains,” Deters wrote. “Nothing appeases them.”
When reached by telephone on Friday, Deters said he was considering giving up his Kentucky law license so the state bar could never suspend him again and threaten his growing Ohio practice.
“I stand willing to resign my Kentucky license so the Bar Counsel gets what they want and I can be left alone to practice law in Cincinnati,” Deters said. “I’m tired of their hurting me past their jurisdiction.”
But in an ironic twist, Deters said the Kentucky Bar Association will not allow him to resign while he remains under suspension. Deters said the bar association will accept nothing less than a permanent disbarment.
That’s something Deters says is out of the question because Ohio could cite its reciprocal agreement and disbar him in the Buckeye State.
Deters cited an ongoing case where he represents more than 300 people who claim a doctor performed unnecessary spine surgeries on them at three hospitals as a reason why he wants to continue to practice in Ohio. He wrote that he considers them career-making cases.
Deters wrote people wouldn’t keep hiring him if he was an awful lawyer. He said he has built a law firm with offices in Kentucky and Ohio of 18 lawyers and more than 25 staff members. Deters has three trials scheduled in Ohio through April 22. He has a murder trial in Kentucky in May. Deters said other lawyers in his office are currently handling his cases.