Calls were placed to Thomas O’Diam’s attorney, Joe Borchelt. Thomas O’Diam declined to comment on the complaint.
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 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 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.” He went on to tell county commissioners people need to feel that they “got a fair shake” when they leave the courtroom, and that it “wasn’t rigged.” 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.
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 then let Brittany O’Diam question Buccalo, too.
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. Buccalo, who is diabetic, asked for water and they would not give him any. Buccalo cried on the stand while being questioned, according to the complaint.
“It was not a good time,” he told the Dayton Daily News.
Buccalo said he’s glad the court is taking a look at this case. He said he did not file the grievance.
“I hope justice takes place,” Buccalo said.
O’Diam has been the county probate judge since 2013. Before that, O’Diam was a probate attorney for 28 years.