761 N.E.2d 716 (Ohio Bd.Unauth.Prac. 2001), UPL 01-1, Disciplinary Counsel v. Palmer

Docket Nº:UPL 01-1.
Citation:761 N.E.2d 716, 115 Ohio Misc.2d 70, 2001-Ohio-4108
Opinion Judge:Per the Board.
Case Date:December 31, 2001
Court:Ohio Board of Commissioners on the Unauthorized Practice of Law

Page 716

761 N.E.2d 716 (Ohio Bd.Unauth.Prac. 2001)

115 Ohio Misc.2d 70, 2001-Ohio-4108




No. UPL 01-1.

Ohio Board of Commissioners on the Unauthorized Practice of Law.

December 31, 2001.

Page 717

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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David Palmer is Executive Director, Chairman, and sole active member of the Committee to Expose Dishonest and Incompetent Attorneys and Judges. He is accused of the unauthorized practice of law on three grounds: (1) activities on his web-site, amoralethics.com, which purports to offer "free legal advice"; (2) representations on his letterhead for the committee that he was "now offering free legal advice," and affixing the letters "J.D." after his name; and (3) his 1988 filing of a brief in the Ohio Court of Appeals for the Sixth District on behalf of a corporation of which he was president.

The burden of proof rests upon the relator "to prove its case by a preponderance of the evidence." Gov.Bar R. VII(8)(A). The board finds that the relator has failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the respondent has engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, and therefore the complaint is dismissed. This is nonetheless a close case, and in light of the extraordinary nature of the facts the board will explain the reasons for dismissal.

[115 Ohio Misc.2d 73 ] Charges Related To the Web-site

David Palmer is a vocal critic of attorneys and judges. His web-site, amoralethics.com, serves as the vehicle for his dissemination of those views. One prominent area of his web-site advertises "Free Legal Advice." A visitor to the "Free Legal Advice" portion of the web-site would find the following preamble:

"We are all led to believe that whenever we are faced with some legal matter that we automatically are required to employ an attorney. There are many matters of a legal nature that we can and should resolve on our own without incurring unnecessary expenses of an attorney. Although I am not an attorney, I can assure you that it is not necessary to be a lawyer in order to provide some guidance and/or advice on how to deal with your legal problems.

"Below you will find a brief history of my prior experience in the legal field and brief summaries of the various legal issues that I invite you to submit to me for review and advice. If I feel that you do in fact require the services of an attorney, I will advise you and attempt to provide you with the names of attorneys in your area

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that are competent to handle the matter and who I believe are ethical and honest."

Palmer recites a background as a court reporter and legal clerk in the United States Army. He states that he has "prepared numerous pleadings and motions at the request of and on behalf of various attorneys in Ohio, including appellate briefs." He lists a series of "legal matters that I would invite you to seek advice from me" topics, such as no-fault benefits, legal malpractice, personal injury auto accident, and the like. Typical of the contents of those sections is the entry under "No-Fault Benefits":

"There are in excess of 20 states that have passed no-fault laws regarding injuries incurred involving automobile accidents. The laws in these states require your insurer to pay your necessary medically related expenses within 30 days. Further, most of these states impose penalties against the insurer for not paying within 30 days of receipt of the proof and amount of each loss incurred. These penalties normally include interest and reasonable attorney's fees. If an attorney advises you that you need his or her services to collect no-fault benefits, then I would suggest that you immediately clutch your purse and/or wallet and find the nearest exit.

"If you are injured in a no-fault state and reside in another state, under most circumstances you are also entitled to no-fault benefits if your insurer writes insurance in both states. If you have any questions about your rights as it relates to no-fault benefits, please email me and I will respond as soon as possible. Remember that you do not need an attorney to collect no-fault benefits."

[115 Ohio Misc.2d 74 ] In a final section titled "Miscellaneous Legal Matters," Palmer states:

"If you have any questions or concerns regarding any legal matter, I would be more than happy to review it and provide you with guidance and/or advice within a reasonable amount of time. It is my desire to assist you in trying to solve your own legal matters when possible without incurring unnecessary legal expenses. It is important to remember that employing an attorney should be the last...

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