Many people, including high-profile people, are ragging on criminal defense attorney Eric Nelson for doing his constitutionally protected job by defending Derek Chauvin. At least one Minnesota attorney has been forced to preemptively declare that he is entirely undeserving of any criticism whatsoever connected to the case — despite being named Eric Nelson.
Attorney Eric C. Nelson, who practices “[e]xclusively in [f]amily [l]aw” and has done so “since 1996,” posted the following in red-letter font on his website in an apparent attempt to clear up the confusion:
NOTE: IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR THE ERIC NELSON WHO IS REPRESENTING DEREK CHAUVIN, THAT’S NOT ME. YOU WANT THIS GUY. (Welcome to Minnesota, where the name Eric Nelson is as common as walleye sandwiches. I wish my parents had named me Thor instead. Then I wouldn’t have this problem.)
To be clear, Chauvin’s defense attorney is Eric J. Nelson. His middle initial, which is clearly different from that of the aggrieved and unfairly maligned Eric C. Nelson, appears in scores of court papers on file in the Chauvin case which have been publicly available on a state court website since last year.
However, as TMZ reported Tuesday, too many angry people have not noticed the distinction. Callers have been blowing up the wrong Eric Nelson’s phone with a “deluge of hate and harassment,” TMZ noted, as a “result of the mistaken identity” which is “becoming overwhelming, both personally and professionally” for Eric C. Nelson.
The preemptory warning posted by Eric C. Nelson may have been an attempt to starve off a barrage of misplaced negative online criticism. Eric C. Nelson told TMZ his online reviews plummeted as a result of negative comments lodged by mistaken haters of Derek Chauvin who couldn’t be bothered to check the data before unloading their venom at whichever Eric Nelson they could locate. Eric C. Nelson said Google cleared up negative reviews left erroneously for him; his online reputation score appears robust and healthy as of the time of this writing.
There are four Eric Nelsons listed in the North Star State’s online lawyer directory. Besides the two aforementioned attorneys, Eric J. Nelson and Eric C. Nelson, a third is not currently licensed to practice. A fourth, Eric B. Nelson, is listed as among the counsel at a worker’s compensation firm. He is also entirely unconnected to the criminal prosecution of the former Minneapolis police officer who was convicted of murdering George Floyd on Tuesday.
Whether and to what degree attorneys can respond to negative online reviews is a thorny ethics issue which bar associations have only recently begun to address. Attorneys who are licensed and in good standing are deemed competent to practice law; the rules of professional conduct of the various states also require competency. Attorneys who respond to negative online reviews run the risk of breaking other ethics rules, such as those which forbid the attorney from disclosing confidential client communications or other secret information.
Eric C. Nelson said he notified the police of some of the more threatening messages he’s received.
Such mix-ups are unfortunately common in the social media age of keyboard warriors intent to take down those they dislike. A similar occurrence happened last year when alleged Jeffrey Epstein enabler Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested in New Hampshire. Though she was living in property owned by Granite Reality, LLC, one municipality incorrectly typed the owner’s name as Granite Realty, LLC, in a public database — thus causing substantial confusion with an unrelated business which had nothing to do with Maxwell whatsoever.
[image via the Law&Crime Network]
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