EVERETT — A personal injury lawyer who practiced in Everett has been disbarred for violating a restraining order by sending repeated emails to his former wife, lying to the state bar association and other ethical violations.
Eric Hoort, 51, worked as an attorney in Washington state for over 20 years. He was officially disbarred Tuesday.
In 2018 and 2019, Island County sheriff’s deputies responded to multiple calls about fights between Hoort and his then-wife at their home on Camano Island.
The woman reported Hoort had been using drugs, “anything he could get his hands on,” according to incident reports written by police. Hoort reportedly stole the woman’s prescription medications.
In May 2019, the woman provided a written statement to police. She described a fight that had happened three months prior. Hoort reportedly attacked the woman when she found drugs that weren’t prescribed to him in their home.
“I didn’t call the police,” she wrote, “because he threatened to take my animals and has hurt them in the past.”
The woman reported she was recovering from back surgery when Hoort attacked her, and that the injuries she suffered delayed her recovery and possibly injured her back further.
On May 29, 2019, Hoort was served with a temporary protection order prohibiting him from having “any contact whatsoever” with the woman, or coming within 500 feet of her.
Hoort disregarded the order and emailed the woman the next day, according to his notice of disbarment released Thursday by the state bar association.
“I was just served with your paperwork from the sheriff,” Hoort wrote in the email. “I am speechless honey. I’m all done now. I don’t deserve this. You win (name redacted). I love you and want to be married but you clearly don’t. I’m beyond words. I will sit here and pray and hope …”
The Island County Sheriff’s Office contacted Hoort and told him the order prohibited email and other written communication. Hoort told police he was “unaware” the order prohibited email communication, and that he would not attempt to contact her again.
Yet he did not go 24 hours before he emailed the woman again. Hoort sent three more messages the next day, according the disbarment notice.
An Island County prosecutor charged Hoort with three counts of violating a domestic violence protection order.
Court records suggest the criminal case is still pending.
After the state bar notified Hoort they were conducting a disciplinary investigation, he tried to resign from the practice of law. According to state court rules, a lawyer who is the subject of an investigation by the state agency cannot voluntarily resign.
Hoort did not disclose to the state bar that he was under investigation in the domestic violence case — a “knowingly false certification” that was “intended to evade a public record of discipline, and thus was conduct intended to obtain a benefit for himself,” according the disbarment notice.
A Daily Herald reporter called two phone numbers listed for Hoort, but could not reach him for comment last week.
The state bar’s disciplinary board noted aggravating factors in the decision to disbar Hoort, including a past reprimand the lawyer had received over a decade ago and that he had a “dishonest or selfish motive.”
Hoort had been disciplined in 2005 for failing to take legal action before the statute of limitations expired in a client’s wrongful termination case. The client had been arrested for investigation for attempted murder, fired for being absent without leave while in jail — and then acquitted. Hoort took the client’s money but then didn’t pursue the case.
The board found Hoort violated three of the state’s professional conduct rules, by failing to make “reasonable efforts to expedite litigation” in the interest of the client, failing to provide representation that was diligent and failing to provide representation that was competent.
Ellen Dennis: 425-339-3486; email@example.com; Twitter: @reporterellen