Old Glory

Veteran Phoenix lawyer Gary Peter Klahr fought The Bar and The Bar won

None had any idea what the charges were against Klahr, but that doesn't matter to him. He cherishes their kind words, quoting often from the transcripts.

"Basically, I consider myself one of the good guys of society," Klahr says, demonstrating his own naiveté when he notes that he's listed in Who's Who in American Law and Who's Who in America.

Modestly, he adds, "They even said they're putting me in Who's Who in the World. I wouldn't choose myself for that, frankly."


In a north central Phoenix neighborhood with lush landscaping, well-tended homes and skyrocketing prices, Gary Peter Klahr's house looks abandoned. The scant grass is dead, and the only ornament on the white house is drippings on the driveway, obviously from a paint job.

The windows are dark. Klahr doesn't answer the front door; instead he calls out from the empty carport, explaining he always uses the back door. That entrance offers a trip through the length of the house, en route to Klahr's destination, a small bedroom set up as an office.

Klahr's decorating style is decidedly casual. Just inside the back door, there's a couch and television set (two, actually, one on top of the other), the floor and all other surfaces piled high with copies of the Arizona Republic and other periodicals. A sliding glass door leads to the back, where an old wheelchair holds a full trash bag and more piles of paper. Behind it, a drained, cracking swimming pool.

The only clear space in the kitchen is the refrigerator door; there are no mementos magneted to it, just a bottle opener. The counter is packed with pill bottles. In the dining room, on the large table, an enormous mountain of paper — more newspapers and magazines — literally touches the chandelier. It looks like fodder for an archaeological dig; a copy of Men's Fitness jumps out as an unlikely piece of the pile. There are bookcases everywhere, worn peacock blue carpet and an old pinball machine in the corner. It, too, is covered with paper.

From the dim hallway, there's an open bedroom door with another mountain on the bed. Around the corner is a small room facing out onto the front yard. Inside are obvious attempts at neatness, although cobwebs hang from the dingy walls.

This is Joey Walker's office. He is Klahr's paralegal, and also refers to himself as the firm's manager. He manages Klahr as well, or at least tries to. The house is messy, but smells clean, thanks to Walker, who also performs other houseboy-esque tasks such as doing Klahr's laundry. Walker insists Klahr does not know how to use his own washer and dryer.

Walker does not live at Klahr's home, but he does drive Klahr's car, which, incidentally, he purchased. Rather, Klahr bought the car, but Walker negotiated the deal. Klahr has always driven a Cadillac, trading it in every two years. Since the disbarment, Walker has downsized him to a Honda.

Walker, who is 26, has worked off and on for Klahr for more than 10 years. He started out answering phones at Klahr's law office, and trained on the job as an office manager and paralegal. Now he's basically Klahr's boss, assigning him legal research. Walker works out of Klahr's house, but never meets clients here; he sets up appointments at the Starbucks on Camelback near 16th Street.

Even in Walker's office, Klahr's mess encroaches. Klahr settles in the corner, on a twin bed covered with laundry, to talk.

And talk. And talk. Klahr's nonstop, lightning-speed chatter is as infamous and off-putting as his table manners. He has a tremendous memory for numbers and history, and when he really gets on a roll Klahr cocks his head and looks off into space, like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man.

But before he discusses his past, Klahr wants to make it perfectly clear that this whole disbarment thing is a huge travesty.

"They're not just firing me from a job, they're firing me from a career," Klahr says of the State Bar of Arizona. "They weren't interested in a win-win situation, they were interested in disposing of me."

He says he was accused of turning over his practice to psychotics and criminals. "Now, if that were true, that would be serious, but anybody who knows me knows if anything I'm too hands-on. I hover over people.

"I never abdicated my practice to anyone," he says. "We have worked with a lot of criminals and psychotics, but they did not handle our clients' cases, you know, and there's no substantial evidence that they did any damage."

Most of the trouble came from those other lawyers he got to work on cases he couldn't take by himself. "These cases were turned over to them in good faith, and we tried to supervise them, and some of them simply blew [the cases] off," he says, leaning back on the unmade bed, wedged next to a John Grisham hardback, file folders spilling at his feet.

As Klahr speaks, a wad of white spittle forms on his lips, and stays. A buttonhole is bursting on his plaid, short-sleeved shirt, which, along with dark slacks, is Klahr's uniform. His shirttail always hangs out.

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5 comments
motherhemp420
motherhemp420

I grew up in Phx...and fondly remember Mr. Klahr.  It was the time of the ever expanding "War on Drugs" and the Liquid Giraffe with Christine Bohling.  I never had dealings with Mr. Klahr but always knew the Hippies in PHX had a friend in Mr. Klahr fighting the craziness of "the war on drugs" and civil rights.  Thank you so much...If you don't know now, I'll tell you...You are loved just for being you...you gave all of us hope.  Peace to you GPK...

Michael Bragg Flanagan
Michael Bragg Flanagan

I was once the defendant in a civil action pleaded by Mr. Klahr. It took time out of a busy life, cost me in attorney fees although the proceedings were thrown out for lack of even basically establishing anything like wrongdoing, "I agreed to pay mine if he paid his" simply because I wouldn't have missed that day in court for the world! Can't speak for my counsel... or the befuddled Judge. The man can expound. Lawyers say if you have evidence pound the evidence, absent evidence pound the table!" Mr. Klahr didn't even need a table! I also wouldn't have missed the pretrial settlement "wunch" with Mr. Klahr... I simply could not eat a thing it was so... enuf, I personally will regret Arizona not having a Gary Peter Klahr to kick around! He was an institution unto himself no doubt! And... there may be some Dracula left in him... like Yogi said, "It ain't over til it's over!" Michael Bragg

Chamberbrains@yahoo.com
Chamberbrains@yahoo.com

Gary Klahr is in ill condition at the moment and those who have a bitterness in thier mouth need be silenced for you do not know the man who has had open arms for those in need dispite is sociable skills he was very carring and warm hearted in many ways tho different he was by all means no creep nor was he dihonest to any of you his manors were just and his services were well served and for those who deny these facts or rebuke the truth uttering false accusations let the shame fall apond every work you yourselfs do

Former Prep Employee
Former Prep Employee

I met GPK back in the mid-90's when he was representing 2 students at the Phoenix Preparatory Academy in their suit against the mandatory school uniform. I was a member of staff and was incensed that this creep obtained my personal home address and contacted all of us by letter TWICE in an attempt to encourage us to be insubordinate and undermine the implementation of the School Uniform Policy and Dress Code. Turns out that he lost both students' cases AND the appeal and the uniform policy went on to be extremely successful.

Alexandra
Alexandra

I have know Gary from the 1886,... he was alway one of hte best to know.. I was looking for him.. need to get a hold of him,thanksAlexandra Seals/ Tell him Roger Rudman was my x partner he will remember.. I think best wishes to him

 
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