Ohio Supreme Court probes misconduct complaint against Greene County attorney

Judge Thomas O'Diam's court in Greene County. FILE

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Judge Thomas O'Diam's court in Greene County. FILE

Complaint against Brittany O’Diam is related to pending case against her father, Judge Thomas O’Diam

A complaint alleging misconduct by attorney Brittany O’Diam, daughter of Greene County Probate Judge Thomas O’Diam, was filed this month by the Ohio Supreme Court’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

Brittany O’Diam is accused of violating five “rules of professional conduct” which include charging illegal or excessive fees, making false statements before a tribunal, improper ex parte communication with a judiciary official, and embarrassing or harassing a third party, according to court filings.

In the complaint filed with the court’s Board of Professional Conduct, the office of disciplinary counsel “requests that respondent be found in violation of the Ohio rules of professional conduct and be sanctioned accordingly.”

Brittany O’Diam did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.

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The filing is related to a 2019 incident in which both Brittany and Judge Thomas O’Diam spoke harshly to Grant David Buccalo in O’Diam’s courtroom.

Buccalo’s family had hired O’Diam & Estess Law Group in Beavercreek, where Brittany O’Diam practices law, to handle his mother’s estate. Buccalo attended a Greene County Commission meeting and said he thought Judge O’Diam “should recuse himself from cases in which ‘family members’ represent parties.”

Upon hearing of Buccalo’s comments, Judge O’Diam convened a status hearing where he and his daughter cross-examined Buccalo for 75 minutes without an opportunity to respond, according to the court complaint. Brittany O’Diam at one point asked Buccalo if he “thought it appropriate to inpugn my character as an attorney in the public forum,” saying that he had delayed and refused to cooperate.

Brittany O’Diam then charged Buccalo additional fees for his “problematic” behavior, claiming that his conduct had necessitated additional time devoted to the case, according to the complaint.

That complaint was filed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel on Dec. 1. Brittany O’Diam’s response is due Dec. 21, after which the board will schedule a disciplinary hearing. The hearing is estimated to take place next Spring.

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Rick Dove, director of the Board of Professional Conduct, said that his office has handled similar situations where lawyers have had overlapping allegations, and other cases where family members (usually both lawyers) had been accused of conflicts of interest.

However, he did not know of a case in the last decade in which one family member was an attorney, and the other was a public official.

“Since she’s a lawyer, the rules violations are different, but some factual allegations overlap, certainly,” he said.

Buccalo said he did not file the grievance that led to the complaint, adding that his health had declined in recent years because of the incident.

“I wish none of it had ever happened,” he said. “I’m truly grateful to the Supreme Court staff.”

Judge O’Diam has a separate case pending before the Ohio Supreme Court related to the same incident.

The complaint in that case said 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.”

Arguments for that case were heard in November.

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