► Columbus Dispatch – 06/26/01 – Man accused of impersonating lawyer Print E-mail

Columbus Dispatch – June 26, 2001 – Man accused of impersonating lawyer

Jon Craig
Dispatch Statehouse Reporter
 
‘Watchdog’ offers free legal advice via his Web site
 
It was as if a notorious terrorist were on trial.
 
A State Highway Patrol officer was assigned to enforce order. One lawyer was asked if he was concealing a gun. News reporters were asked to identify themselves. Everyone in the room seemed on edge.
 
Osama bin Laden of Afghanistan?
 
No, David Palmer of Powell.
 
The self-proclaimed legal watchdog, who has been the bane of the Ohio judiciary, stood accused of impersonating a lawyer—for which actor Raymond Burr was celebrated for turning into an art from as Perry Mason.
 
Palmer, who previously filed more than 50 felony theft complaints against nine judges, stood accused of the unauthorized practice of law.
 
Evidence of Palmer’s transgression could be found on his Web site and his letterhead; which in addition to “offering free legal advice” also advertised that the defendant was available to do “light hauling and landscaping.”
 
Yesterday’s four-hour free-for-all in a Rhodes Tower hearing room involved the legal interpretation of letters and words. In the end, Palmer could be ordered to stop giving legal advice and pay the cost of the case against him.
 
A recommendation by the Ohio Supreme Court’s Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline which held the hearing, isn’t expected until the fall.
 
Assistant Disciplinary Counsel told the board that the complaint against Palmer has nothing to do with his watchdog role as executive director of the Committee to Expose Dishonest Attorneys and Judges.
 
But Palmer said he thought yesterday’s hearing was a “vindictive, punitive action because of my activities in exposing judicial or attorney misconduct.”
 
In a separate case, Palmer withdrew criminal complaints May 30 against retired visiting judges pending further investigation by Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien.
 
Anelli alleges Palmer misrepresents himself as a lawyer by placing the initials J.D., the common abbreviation for a law degree, on his stationery and offers “free legal advice” on his Internet site www.noethics.net.”
 
“I find a little comedy keeps me from going nuts,” Palmer said. Indeed, he made the court reporter and several commissioners laugh when he mentioned his “light hauling and landscaping” services.
 
One defense witness who sought advice from Palmer, Rubin Szerlip of Mount Vernon, testified, “I though (J.D.) meant ‘Just Dave.’”
 
Elsebeth Baumgartner of Oak Harbor, an Ottawa County lawyer and pharmacist, testified she uses the abbreviation esq., which stands for esquire—on her business cards when she practices law.
 
“It’s a parody. This is someone who has some criticism of our profession,” she said in support of Mr. Palmer.
 
The retiree said he often advised people to consult a lawyer, bar association or judge if they encounter problems in a case. But Palmer said he also tells them to stay as far away as possible from the courthouse.
 
“If you get justice, it was not by design, it was by accident,” he said. “I consider myself to be a dispenser of a great big dose of common sense…I have never accepted money.”
 
Palmer accused the disciplinary counsel’s office of dredging up decades-old accusations. For instance, Palmer was asked about a defunct corporation and tax returns dating from 1980 and a legal case dating from 1988.
 
Board Chairman J. Jeffrey McNealey said the commissioners will prepare a report to the Ohio Supreme Court, which can hold its own hearing. It will take about seven weeks to prepare transcripts and accept briefs.
 
Perrysburg lawyer David R. Pheils Jr. was asked why he billed Palmer for reviewing and copying his Web site but later complained about the free legal advice offered there. Palmer’s first question of Pheils was whether he was carrying a pistol, referring to a prior legal dispute.
 
The hearing attracted about a dozen Palmer supporters. Several said they had had bad court experiences. One man called him “Saint Palmer,” and a woman explained to her daughter that she was witnessing a “kangaroo court.”
 

Who's Online

We have 269 guests online

Donation Request

Your donations are needed to help defray the recurring costs for internet services, cable access, research via LexisNexis, media subscriptions, and the employment of a researcher and editor.

Donate Here

The Committee to Expose Dishonest and Incompetent Judges, Attorneys and Public Officials, Powered by Joomla!; Joomla templates by SG web hosting

website counter