Here is Paul Simmerly’s letter to me that is a chilling expose on the “puppet master – the WA State Bar Association” who resides at the core of the ‘rotten onion’.
“Every attorney, judge, official, citizen and reporter should be concerned about the Robert Grundstein case: WSBA vs. ROBERT GRUNDSTEIN, Public Nos. 07-02058 and 10-00097”
The case of In Re Robert Grundstein, Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) Disciplinary Board Nos. 07-02058 and 10-00097, is the greatest miscarriage of justice I have seen in my 32 years of practicing law. It is an absolute disgrace to the legal system in Washington state. The conduct and actions of the WSBA Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) and Hearing Officer Lisa Hammel, who prosecuted Mr. Grundstein, are so incredible, outrageous and bizarre as to scarcely be believable. But please do not take my word for it. Check out the facts of his case for yourself.
Grundstein allowed to sit for Vermont Bar Exam despite being disbarred in Washington State.
Significantly, the State of Vermont allowed Mr. Grundstein to sit for the Vermont Bar after reviewing the Washington disbarment proceedings. This may be an unprecedented occurrence.
Background. Grundstein was exposing corruption. Grundstein was not in Ohio at the time alleged.
The Cleveland, Ohio judicial, court and law enforcement systems have an incredible, and possibly unprecedented, history of corruption. There have been at least 60 convictions of judges, prosecutors, clerks, administrators, employees, contractors and attorneys for official misconduct and corruption from 2008 to the present. Robert Grundstein, a resident of Vermont, was a member of the WSBA on inactive status and had never had a client in Washington State. In 2007, Robert Grundstein wrote an editorial critical of ex-judge Peter Junkin of Cleveland, Ohio (later removed from office during the FBI raids on Cleveland for alleged racketeering activities). Six months later, the County Sheriff (since arrested and convicted) had his detectives present evidence to the Grand Jury that on April 28, 2003, Mr. Grundstein altered a record that he had been convicted of a crime in Lakewood, Ohio Municipal Court, an original document in the exclusive possession and control of that court. That criminal conviction was for violation of Lakewood Municipal Code 549.04(c), Improper Storage of a Firearm, a 4th degree Misdemeanor which is the lowest Misdemeanor in Ohio law. The Grand Jury refused to give an indictment and returned a “No Bill”. Only four percent of presentments to the Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) Grand Juries get a “No Bill”. It is illegal to re-present. See the Ohio Supreme Court case of Froehlich v Ohio Board of Mental Health, August 20, 2007). Most importantly, Mr. Grundstein was not in Ohio on April 23, 2003 and had the ATM receipts to prove it.
Mr. Grundstein’s case was illegally re-presented to the Grand Jury and this time a True Bill was returned based upon false information. He had to fight this matter. The judge would not bring the case to trial. Mr. Grundstein moved to dismiss. The judge, Michael Russo, refused to rule on Mr. Grundstein’s motions. The prosecutor would not drop the case. Trial was scheduled three times and cancelled abruptly without notice. Mr. Grundstein refused to take a plea. Every time Mr. Grundstein came in to Cleveland from his home in Vermont for trial, he found out only upon his arrival in Ohio that the trial had been cancelled. The prosecutor scheduled eight (8) pre-trials for which Mr. Grundstein had to drive in to Ohio from Vermont. Nothing was ever discussed at them. The Criminal Clerk of Courts falsified the docket to say Mr. Grundstein kept asking for continuances. The Criminal Clerk of Courts, Mark Lime, is now in jail on 76 counts of altering records and theft.
After eleven trips to Ohio over the course of a year, Mr. Grundstein realized that Ohio was not going to give him a trial, rule on his motions or drop the case. Finally, he was forced to settle for a $50.00 fine. The prosecutor, Bill Mason, was forced to resign as a result of the FBI raids, shortly after Mr. Grundstein’s case was resolved. Another prosecutor involved in the case, Joe O’Malley, was sent to federal prison for case fixing, bribery and perjury.
WSBA Action. WSBA Senior Disciplinary Counsel Douglas Ende called Mr. Grundstein in February of 2008 to discuss the matter. Mr. Grundstein told them everything and he advised them that he wanted the WSBA to know all about the case. Mr. Grundstein sent Mr. Ende and the ODC many exculpatory documents. Someone from Ohio had sent the WSBA an anonymous letter about Mr. Grundstein in October of 2007. Mr. Grundstein didn’t hear from the WSBA for another three years when the WSBA sent him a Formal Complaint. In In re Ressa, 94 Wn 2d 882, 621 P.2d 153 (1980), the Supreme Court found a delay of three years in a disciplinary case to be unreasonable.
During Mr. Grundstein’s disciplinary proceeding, the WSBA amended the Statement of Charges against him a total of eight times, including an amendment that requested his disbarment when the original Statement of Charges only requested “probation”. All of these amendments were allowed by Hearing Office Lisa Hammel.
Jurisdiction in Washington State over what Grundstein did in Vermont and Ohio?
The WSBA sought to enforce what it thought were problems with motions Mr. Grundstein had filed in an unrelated legal matter in Vermont. Vermont had found no problem with those motions and had taken no disciplinary action against Mr. Grundstein. The WSBA also sought to discipline Mr. Grundstein for being illegally declared a “vexacious litigant” in a sham proceeding in the state of Ohio by a corrupt court. Mr. Grundstein was also illegally denied the right to appeal this designation as a “vexacious litigant”. That designation prevented Mr. Grundstein from ever filing another lawsuit without court permission. Mr. Grundstein had sued a man for stealing from his father’s estate. On the basis of that one case, the only case that Mr. Grundstein had ever filed in Ohio, he was declared a “vexacious litigant”. If the states of Ohio and Vermont have not sought to discipline Mr. Grundstein, how can the WSBA Bar discipline him for what he did in Ohio and Vermont? How can Mr. Grundstein put on his defense of a corrupt Ohio judicial system in Bar disciplinary proceedings in Washington State? What authority does the WSBA have to enforce what an attorney does in another state when that other state has no problems with what that attorney did?
No felony conviction.
Mr. Grundstein was disbarred. One of the reasons was that he committed a felony in Ohio. Normally, commission of a felony by an attorney results in automatic disbarment. The only problem was that Grundstein had never been convicted of a felony. This was of no concern to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, who continuously misrepresented the facts, or to the Hearing Officer, Lisa Hammel, who disregarded Mr. Grundstein’s affirmative defenses in this regard and the WSBA’s failure to prove the commission of a felony (It is a requirement that the WSBA affirmatively prove that Mr. Grundstein had committed a felony).
Brady v. Maryland, RPC 3.3 and 3.8 violations.
Douglas Ende, Disciplinary Counsel Linda Eide and the ODC had known for three years that Mr. Grundstein had not been convicted of a felony. Mr. Grundstein had informed them of that fact and had produced documents and citations to the Lakewood, Ohio Municipal Code, Section 549.04 which only deals with Misdemeanors. Please Google it. The U.S. Supreme Court decided in the case of Brady v. Maryland that a prosecutor must disclose and produce exculpatory evidence (evidence that tends to negate the guilt of the accused). The Washington State Rules for disciplinary proceedings against attorneys incorporate Brady v. Maryland principles and also require the ODC to disclose and produce exculpatory evidence. RPC 3.3 (a) (1) and (4) Candor Toward the Tribunal – “A lawyer shall not knowingly make a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal or fail to correct a false statement of material fact or law previously made to the tribunal by the lawyer” nor “offer evidence that the lawyer knows to be false”. Douglas Ende, Linda Eide and the ODC violated those legal requirements in order to obtain the illegal disbarment of Mr. Grundstein.
Alleged alteration of a court document.
Mr. Grundstein was also charged by the WSBA with a violation of RPC 8.4, alteration of a court document, the record of his Misdemeanor conviction for Improper Storage of a Weapon. Mr. Grundstein had taken a faxed copy of that court document, which had been typed in black ink, and wrote on it in blue ink, in his own handwriting, the “(c)” after Lakewood, Ohio Municipal Code 549.04. All of 549.04, including subsection “(c)”, deals with misdemeanors. Lakewood, Ohio Municipal Court only deals with misdemeanors. It has no jurisdiction over felonies. Mr. Grundstein did this because he had needed to explain the matter to the FBI in order to be able to buy a gun. He had to explain that he had never been convicted of a felony so he wrote the FBI a letter explaining that he had not been convicted of a felony, including in it the court document which had his added subsection “(c)”. There was no alteration and no intent to deceive anyone. He wrote on a faxed copy of a court document and never tried to pass his writing off as part of the court document. The FBI understood, never questioned what he had done, concluded he had not committed a felony and allowed him to buy a gun.
Hearing Officer findings that conclusively have no basis in fact or law – Hearing Officer stated that a misdemeanor was a felony. In her Findings of Fact and Law, Hearing Officer Lisa Hammel incorrectly found that Mr. Grundstein had changed the record on his 2002 conviction for Improper Storage of Firearm, from a Felony to a Misdemeanor. But Mr. Grundstein in fact had never been convicted of such a felony or any other felony. She was referring to the conviction under Lakewood, Ohio Municipal Code 549.04(c). Lakewood Municipal Court is a suburban Cleveland court. It only has misdemeanor jurisdiction. It can’t hear or charge felonies. The charge under 549.04 was a misdemeanor of the 4th degree, the lowest in Ohio. It didn’t get sent to Cuyahoga Common Pleas where felonies are heard. It was completely resolved as a minor matter in Lakewood. Mr. Grundstein had to come to Cleveland to defend his mother from people who embezzled from her. He neglected to leave his .22 pistol in Vermont. His car was towed during a rush hour violation. The police impounded his vehicle, unlocked it, went through everything and found his pistol.
Clerks refuse to include Grundstein’s exhibits in the record supplied to the Disciplinary Board and the Supreme Court. Three weeks after his Disciplinary Hearing, Mr. Grundstein received a copy of the Hearing record that he had requested for his appeal. All of his 42 Exhibits which had been admitted by Hearing Officer Hammel at the Hearing were gone. All of his documentary proof had been removed from the record by the Bar. Pages 357 to 448 of the transcripts of his disciplinary proceeding bear this out. The WSBA had taken it upon themselves to unilaterally remove every one of Mr. Grundstein’s exhibits that irrefutably proved his innocence and the state of the law in Ohio. These exhibits proved that Mr. Grundstein was not in Ohio at the times alleged, he never altered a court document, he was never convicted of a felony, he never changed a court record of a felony into a misdemeanor and that he never issued a subpoena illegally. The WSBA hid all Mr. Grundstein’s evidence of innocence.
To quote from the transcript: “HEARING OFFICER HAMMEL: (talking about a Grundstein exhibit) I guess I’m less concerned about your handwritten notes on here. That is certainly something that we could deal with with the testimony acknowledging that they are you handwritten notes, and we certainly have a lot of documents that have been admitted in this case that contain those.” (Italics and boldface added). Grundstein Transcript, Page 435.
Hearing Officer Hammel and Ms. Eide discuss Mr. Grundstein’s exhibits extensively in the transcript, assigning them numbers using a numbering system developed and used repeatedly by the Bar in disciplinary proceedings and Mr. Grundstein testified about what these 40 exhibits were as shown in these 91 pages of transcript. Apparently, the ODC unilaterally concluded that Mr. Grundstein’s exhibits had not been formally admitted and that a formal statement like “I move to admit Respondent’s Exhibit No. xxx” had to be uttered. No such formal statement is required. First, this is an administrative proceeding, much less formal than a Superior Court trial. As any competent trial attorney, Judge or Hearing Officer will tell you, testimony is not taken about a document until after it is admitted into evidence. Testimony was taken in Grundstein’s case about his exhibits which had been admitted into evidence. Quite obviously, the record of proceedings is meaningless if you have 91 pages of testimony about documents that are not part of the record. Perhaps most importantly, even if his exhibits were correctly excluded from the record by the Hearing Officer, Mr. Grundstein should have been given the opportunity to have his excluded exhibits included in the record and to make the argument to the Disciplinary Board and to the Supreme Court that his exhibits had been admitted or should have been admitted.
Why doesn’t this conduct constitute violations of RPC 3.2, 3.3 and 3.8 (duty to acknowledge exculpatory evidence at all times), the requirements of Brady v Maryland, obstruction of justice and spoliation of evidence?
Why doesn’t Ms. Hammel have the courage to stand up to the ODC and change her findings to reflect reality?
Misconduct by Office of Disciplinary Counsel ignored.
The Bar, WSBA Disciplinary Board and the Supreme Court have decided that Brady v. Maryland and RPC 3.3 and 3.8 have no application to attorney disciplinary proceedings. The WSBA Disciplinary Board was fully informed, on multiple occasions, of what had occurred, but completely ignored the situation and refused to do anything. The WSBA, the ODC, the Disciplinary Board, Hearing Officer Hammel and the Washington State Supreme Court are unconcerned about this. Why aren’t WSBA Hearing Officers concerned about the integrity of the record in disciplinary proceedings that they control? Why aren’t WSBA Hearing Officers and the Disciplinary Board concerned about misrepresentations that are made to them?
Compare this to the situation with the disbarred Duke Lacrosse team Prosecutor Mike Nifong. Nifong withheld exculpatory evidence that negated the guilt of several Duke University LaCrosse players on rape charges. He was disbarred by the State Bar of North Carolina on an expedited basis. Here, the ODC attorneys guilty of this misconduct are still at work despite egregious misconduct in other cases (Unger, Gauthier). In the Unger case, misconduct on the part of the ODC resulted in compensation of $75,000 being awarded to the attorney victim which was paid by Bar Association members. Again, no punishment for the ODC wrongdoers.
No appeal allowed. Clerks allowed to make decisions.
The Washington Supreme Court refused to allow Mr. Grundstein to appeal his disbarment. He tried to file his appeal eighteen days after the Disciplinary Board’s decision, thinking his filing was timely. The Supreme Court found that it was not, even though there is authority for a longer deadline. Former Justice Richard Sanders disagrees that his filing was not timely. Efforts to file motions to vacate his disbarment based upon CR 60 – fraud and irregularities in obtaining a judgment – were rejected by Clerks. He was not even allowed by the Clerks to file these documents to get them into the record in his own case and in front of the Disciplinary Board or the Supreme Court.
WSBA’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel has absolute power.
Mr. Grundstein filed Bar Grievances against all members of the Office of Disciplinary Counsel involved, but these were ignored and dismissed without any investigation or consideration. How can the Office of Disciplinary Counsel investigate Grievances against itself?
Mr. Grundstein’s odyssey through the disciplinary process is further described in the book he has just written, Vendetta: Cleveland Ohio Vermont to Washington State America’s Archipelago of Legal Failure.
PAUL E. SIMMERLY