The KBA Bar Counsel’s Office Seeks Punishment of Deters on allegation he is seeking the Overthrow of the Government! We have found no rule that makes the KBA the regulator of our political thought and speech.

 

By LawReader Senior Editor Stan Billingsley

The Bar Counsel’s office, actually accused Eric Deters for calling for the “overthrow of our government”.

Deters went on radio on Monday and Tuesday (May 14,15) to defend himself against the actions of the KBA Bar Counsel’s office attempt to limit his political speech.

Jay Garrett, and the Bar Counsel’s Office has opposed the 61 day suspension imposed upon Eric Deters by the Board of Governors and by the Ky. Supreme Court. After Deters was acquitted of l5 of l9 counts filed against him by the Bar Counsel, Garrett has attempted to increase the period of suspension imposed by the Supreme Court. The Bar Counsel has filed additional charges against Deters and now attacks his political speech statements made on radio.

Garrett filed an objection to Deters automatic reinstatement after he was sentenced to serve the 61 day period of suspension imposed by the Ky. Supreme Court. The Character and Fitness committee granted Deters now must conduct an investigation and provide Deters  a hearing, but never-the- less the action of the Bar Counsel has extended Deters period of suspension sentence and he will not be reinstated until the Committee takes action on Garrett’s motion. It is presumed that their ruling will be reviewed by the Ky. Supreme Court. This could further delay Deters reinstatement.

Deters on the radio show he hosts, called on people to march to Washington and to carry their guns (enforcing their 2nd Amendment rights).” “I called for a new American revolution. I never said the marchers should take bullets with them.”

Deters apparently joked on this subject, and said on radio that “We won’t take ammo, but we would scare the hell out of them. I want reform not overthrow, I love America.”

The context of this comment on radio appears to be nothing more than political satire, but the actual words are not far different from statements made by Patrick Henry in 1775 calling on the State of Virginia to join the Revolution against the English King.

“This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty towards the majesty of heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.”

“If we wish to be free — if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending — if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained, we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us!”

“Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!” Patrick Henry – March 23, 1775

We note that Patrick Henry was a lawyer. The State of Virginia did not disbar him for his comments!

The KBA apparently seeks to regulate Deters political speech and to use his politics to deny him reinstatement to practice law.

The statements made by Deters on his radio show were political comments. I personally disagree with Deters on many political issues.  I have not found any Supreme Court Rule which allows the regulation of lawyer’s political free speech.

The KBA has already sought to punish another attorney for a letter he wrote to the Legislative Ethics Commission criticizing their legal reasoning in dismissing ethics charges against Senate President David Williams. We find no basis in the Supreme Court Rules which direct the KBA and the Bar Counsel to seek to sanction lawyers for their political speech.

If Deters has violated any law, how is it within the jurisdiction of the KBA to use their claim against Deters in the Character and Fitness Committee review of his character?   Deters has never been charged with calling for overthrow of the government. The jurisdiction of the BA to regulate political speech is highly questionable.   Such accusations usually are introduced by  prosecutors with the  intent to poison the minds of a jury or an administrative body in a hearing. If this was a court of law it surely would have been striken from the record.

For god’s sake, They are seeking to suspend a lawyer for making political statements on an AM radio station!! He even said on radio that he was cancelling his idea for a march on Washington.

The Character and Fitness Committee may be called on to rule in this case. It is possible that the Supreme Court may have to review these issues.

We suggest that this issue raised by the Bar Counsel, presents a wonderful opportunity for the Character and Fitness Committee and the Supreme Court to reject this attempt of the Bar Counsel’s office to make the KBA the regulators of political thought and speech of Kentucky lawyers.

READER’S COMMENT ON FOREGOING ARTICLE:

May 18, 2012  – Retired Law School Proffessor:   “It is time to FIRE all people at the KBA who handle any aspect of lawyer discipline and to start FRESH with lawyer discipline.

Leave a Comment:

*