Greene County judge responds to allegations in complaint against him

Greene County Probate Judge Thomas O’Diam has responded to a complaint against him that alleges misconduct.

A complaint alleging misconduct by O’Diam was filed Mar. 29 with the Ohio Board of Professional Conduct of the Ohio Supreme Court. O’Diam responded April 19.

The complaint alleges misconduct by O’Diam in relation to a 2019 incident where he spoke harshly to someone in his courtroom who had attended a Greene County Commission meeting in 2019 and said he thought O’Diam “should recuse himself from cases in which ‘family members’ represent parties.”

The complaint says O’Diam’s conduct violated the judicial code that states “a judge shall be patient, dignified and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers ... and others with whom the judge deals with in an official capacity.”

Three people were assigned to a panel that will review the case.

In his response, through his attorney Joe Borchelt, O’Diam admits to most of the allegations in the certified complaint. He asks that the Board of Professional Conduct “issue a decision that is right and just.”

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The complaint states that Grant David Buccalo, whose mother’s estate was being handled by O’Diam & Estess Law Group Inc., which is the law firm where O’Diam’s daughter Brittany O’Diam practices, made comments to Greene County commissioners in May 2019 that Buccalo didn’t think the probate judge’s daughter should be allowed to practice in front of him.

Brittany O’Diam has represented clients in her father’s court on about 45 occasions over the past seven years without Thomas O’Diam recusing himself. In all of those cases, Brittany O’Diam has filed a waiver of disqualification, a form which all parties sign acknowledging the judge’s potential conflict of interest and agreeing to proceed.

Buccalo signed one of those forms when Brittany O’Diam was assigned his mother’s estate.

Buccalo told commissioners: “Justice depends on the appearance as well as the reality of fairness in all things. Otherwise, it erodes public confidence in the legal system.”

Buccalo did not specifically mention his mother’s estate case or express concern about his own involvement with O’Diam. Buccalo told commissioners he planned to file a grievance with O’Diam, court documents state.

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According to the complaint, after learning about those statements to the county commissioners, O’Diam set a status conference for Buccalo’s estate case. At this status conference, O’Diam played the recording of Buccalo’s comments at the county commission meeting and questioned Buccalo for almost an hour, court documents say.

Thomas O’Diam told Buccalo he took the comments to county commissioners personally and also accused Buccalo of proceeding to “trash” him, according to court documents.

O’Diam has been the county probate judge since 2013. Before that, O’Diam was a probate attorney for 28 years.

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