Probate judge admits to allegations in complaint

By Scott Halasz - [email protected]

XENIA — Greene County Probate Court Judge Thomas O’Diam answered a complaint alleging misconduct in his courtroom.

The complaint, filed March 29 with the Ohio Board of Professional Conduct of the Supreme Court, alleges that the judge violated rule 2.8(B) of the code, which states that “A judge shall be patient, dignified, and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers, court staff, court officials, and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity, and shall require similar conduct of lawyers, court staff, court officials, and others subject to the judge’s direction and control.”

It alleges that O’Diam spoke harshly to someone in his courtroom who previously told Greene County commissioners that the judge should “should recuse himself from cases in which ‘family members’ represent parties.”

In an April 19 response filed by attorney Joe Borchelt, O’Diam admitted to most of the allegations while saying other parts of the certified complaint speak for themselves.

The alleged violation occurred during a June 6, 2019 status conference regarding the estate of Carolee Buccalo, which was being handled by Brittany O’Diam, Judge O’Diam’s daughter. Buccalo’s son, Grant David Buccalo, was called to the stand and questioned at length about the comments he made to the commissioners in 2019 regarding family members representing parties in Judge O’Diam’s court.

According to county records, Brittany O’Diam has represented clients in her father’s courtroom more than 40 times since O’Diam took over the bench. The judge did not recuse himself — until Buccalo’s case — but Brittany O’Diam filed a waiver of disqualification, which is a form parties sign acknowledging the judge’s potential conflict of interest and agreeing to move forward with the case.

Buccalo did sign one of those forms when Brittany O’Diam took on the case, but he said he was an “emotional mess” when he signed the wavier. He also said his comments to the county were not meant to be taken personally by Judge O’Diam.

The complaint indicates that Buccalo did not specifically mention his mother’s estate case or express concern about his own involvement with Judge O’Diam, other than to say that he had never met him and wouldn’t recognize him. Buccalo then said he planned to file a grievance with the disciplinary counsel.

A three-person panel was assigned to review the case and O’Diam requested that the Board for Professional Conduct for the Supreme Court review the matter and “issue a decision that is right and just.”

By Scott Halasz

[email protected]

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.