Cincinnati Newspaper Mentions Federal Lawsuit Against Ky. Bar Association

The following newstory was posted on Jan. 12, 2011 on www.cincinnati.com, the website of the Kentucky Enquirer.  It will be published in the newspaper on Jan. 13th.

Deters suit seeks halt to Ky. Bar discipline

By Jim Hannah • jhannah@nky.com • January 12, 2011

  • COVINGTON – Lawyer and WLW radio personality Eric Deters has filed a federal lawsuit against the Kentucky Bar Association in an attempt to stop it from moving forward with disciplinary proceedings against him.

 

He asked for a restraining order to prevent a trial commissioner from issuing a public recommendation on the disciplinary charges, a recommendation that could be released as early as next week. Deters also asked for an injunction staying the bar proceedings against him, an order that would allow Deters to seek a new trail commissioner and a ruling that the bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct stifles free speech.

Read the lawsuit

U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves has set a hearing Friday in Frankfort on the suit.

The suit, filed Jan. 6 in federal court in Covington, claims Deters already rejected a 30-day suspension offered by the bar association. The defendants also include bar association President Bruce K. Davis of Lexington and Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John Minton Jr. of Bowling Green.

While Minton declined to speak about the suit, the bar association issued a written response about the suit and confidential disciplinary proceedings.

“Although it would appear that Mr. Deters has chosen to waive that confidentiality, the KBA has received no specific waiver from him to discuss any details of any cases which may involve a determination whether his conduct conformed to the rules of professional conduct that govern all lawyers,” the statement reads.

Former Kentucky Bar Association President David Sloan, a lawyer in Covington, said he hadn’t reviewed the suit but said it was unusual for a lawyer to file suit against the bar association.

“I don’t recall anything like that while I was president or when I was on the board of governors, for that matter,” said Sloan, who was president in 2005 and on the board of governors for six years.

The suit states the bar association filed six charges against Deters for violating the rules of professional conduct. Some of the charges involved Deters, on his radio program, calling Grant Circuit Judge Stephen Bates an unfair judge after he ruled against him in litigation involving the January 2007 Grant County school bus crash that critically injured two students.

Deters claims his First Amendment right to free speech is violated by a professional conduct rule that states “a lawyer shall not make a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity” of a lawyer.

“The Kentucky Bar Association has charged (Deters) for speaking candidly about what he believes could be a potentially politically corrupt situation and as such he has been penalized …” Deters’ suit said.

The suit attacks a series of public officials, not named as defendants, who Deters has publicly disagreed with over the years. One is a prosecutor Deters once ran for office against while the others are judges who have sanctioned Deters or prosecutors who have prosecuted Deters’ clients.

Deters denies in the suit that he did anything wrong. The suit claims that none of the charges involved dishonesty, moral turpitude, criminal conduct, fraud, theft, malpractice or any shameful act.

“In the history of bar counsel, no one has been more unfairly prosecuted,” Deters wrote in the suit. “This matter involves total dishonesty and lack of integrity by Bar Counsel. Bar Counsel should be above reproach. They should not try to make false statements against lawyers in good standing.”

The suit claims Deters has been a victim of “his enemies,” a collection of lawyers who file serial bar complaints against him. Deters said he was forced to discuss the disciplinary proceedings on radio because a couple lawyers were telling people that Deters was going to be disbarred.

Deters suit claims that the trial commissioner, Frank Doheny, who presided over the tribunal, was biased and refused to recuse himself. The suit claims Doheny used to defend medical malpractice suits and Deters is known for filing medical malpractice suits. In addition, the suit claims Doheny’s law partner, Linda Ash, represented a couple who filed a bar complaint against Deters.

“It’s why (Deters) desires an unbiased lawyer as the Trial Commissioner,” Deters wrote in the suit. “Bar Counsel has shown no integrity. They have filed false statements and false charges.”

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