Deters appeals Massie candidacy challenge; Massie fires back Skip to content

Deters appeals Massie candidacy challenge; Massie fires back

Eric Deters and Thomas Massie continue their back and forth.

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Former Northern Kentucky attorney Eric Deters has appealed a circuit court’s March 15 dismissal of his candidacy challenge against Congressman Thomas Massie.

Meanwhile, Massie is seeking court sanctions against Deters. 

The 4th District Kentucky congressman – also being challenged by Deters in the upcoming May 21 Republican primary – is asking the Lewis circuit judge who ruled against Deters last month to require that any future court actions filed by Deters be screened for potential violations of rules of civil procedure.

The court saga began on Feb. 22 when Deters – a 2023 Republican gubernatorial candidate from Walton now running for Congress – filed a lawsuit in Lewis Circuit Court claiming Massie should be disqualified from the race because of residency questions surrounding one of two witnesses to his candidacy filing. State law requires both witnesses live in the same district as the candidate. Deters argued that TJ Roberts of Burlington, the witness in question and a 2024 state legislative candidate who was temporarily displaced by a fire at his home in 2023, did not meet the residency requirement. 

The circuit court disagreed, and the case was dismissed by Lewis Circuit Court Judge Brian McCloud on March 15. 

Deters appealed the case to the Kentucky Court of Appeals on March 20, alleging the lower court didn’t give him due process. Deters claimed, among other things, that the court overlooked his requests for depositions and an evidentiary hearing in the case. 

Back in Lewis Circuit Court on March 22, Massie attorneys Christopher Wiest and Thomas B. Bruns renewed a motion (first filed on Feb. 26) to impose sanctions on Deters on Massie’s behalf for various alleged actions in the case. The motion claims Deters gave “little to no notice” in his attempts for discovery in his case for disqualification of Massie – a case the motion calls “baseless.”

“Due to (Deters’) knowledge of the rules and the law, and his flagrant disregard for them in this proceeding, he should be sanctioned pursuant to C.R. 11,” the renewed motion states.

The motion asks the court to impose a “judicial screening requirement” on Deters to prohibit him from filing future court actions pro se (by himself) “unless such actions are screened first by a court to ensure they do not violate C.R. 11,” a civil rule requiring that court filings be “well grounded in fact and is warranted by existing law or a good faith argument,” among other requirements. 

Violations of the rule can result in an appropriate sanction including “reasonable expenses incurred,” according to the rule. 

Massie’s motion for sanctions is scheduled to be heard on April 19 in Lewis Circuit Court at 1 p.m. before Judge McCloud. 

Deters filed an April 1 response to the renewed motion. That response – filed pro se – includes several allegations against Massie’s legal counsel and a few first-person statements. The first statement is “I appealed the (Lewis Circuit) Court’s Order. That may or may not be successful.” The last few statements, also made in first person, are as follows: 

“I stand by everything I have done and filed in this matter. No discovery? Really? Unchallenged affidavits? Really? No hearing? Really? No appeal? Really? I will not be coming to Vanceburg (Lewis Circuit Court) on April 19, 2024. Respectfully submitted, Eric C. Deters, Pro se.” 

Meanwhile, with the May 21 primary seven weeks away, the Kentucky Court of Appeals has set an expedited briefing schedule for Deters’ appeal. 

This is not the first time that Deters has challenged the validity of a Kentucky political candidate. A state court last year dismissed his challenge against fellow Republican gubernatorial candidate Kelly Craft, who Deters claimed did not meet residency requirements to run for the state’s highest office.

Craft came in third in the 2023 Republican primary race for governor with 52,170 votes, based on official results from the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office. Deters came in fourth with 17,464 votes.

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Written by Rebecca Hanchett. Cross-posted from the Link NKY.



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