Old Glory

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

All agree that disbarment is about the worst thing that can happen to an attorney. Matt Silverman, spokesman for the State Bar of Arizona, calls it "the professional death penalty."

"Disbarring an attorney is almost like dishonorable discharge from the military. It sounds so dirty and horrible," Klahr says.

But was there any other choice?

Kevin Scanlon
Phoenix City Councilman Gary Peter Klahr, circa 1974.
Phoenix City Councilman Gary Peter Klahr, circa 1974.

Even those closest to Klahr don't rush to his defense. Of his four siblings, the only one he keeps in touch with is Bonnie Dahl, the head shop owner in Boulder. Klahr visits her for three or four days every August; it's his only vacation, although Dahl says he always spends the whole time on the phone with his office.

"I haven't lived in Phoenix in 27 years, so really, as far as the disbarment goes, I can't fairly judge what's come down or whatever, and I know that it's very upsetting to him, of course, but again, we only get his version, so I don't know the other side, in all fairness," Dahl says.

And Kathleen Masters, the attorney who has taken over Klahr's practice — an old friend and colleague who says she loves the guy, who says at most he's guilty of being disorganized — squirms when asked if she agrees with the decision.

"To tell you the truth," she says, "I'm glad I wasn't a member of the disciplinary committee because I don't know what I would have done."


Gary Peter Klahr's phone is ringing. In a society where even bad name ID is good, potential clients still find him. Hard to guess how, since his office phone has been disconnected for months.

(The firm is still operating as Gary Peter Klahr P.C., Masters confirms. Perhaps not for long — The Bar says that's illegal, even if Klahr is not a shareholder.)

Klahr rushes to the kitchen in his stocking feet to answer the phone.

Sometime in the past week, Joey Walker has managed to find the surface of the dining room table. Ten laundry baskets packed with old newspapers and magazines are stacked next to it. The kitchen counter is piled higher than ever, and the garbage can overflows with Hot Pockets and Domino's boxes.

Walker also found time to get away from Klahr long enough to share his own feelings about what has happened. He is absolutely furious with The Bar.

"Basically, they're going to murder him and get away with it. That's what they're doing. They're slowly killing Gary Peter Klahr," he says.

Walker describes his former boss — now Klahr works for him, in effect — as "a rough guy, but deep inside, he's got a heart." He adds, "Gary could probably be a doctor. That's how smart he is."

But not smart enough to know not to represent himself before The Bar, Walker concedes. And, yes, disorganized. Very disorganized.

Walker, for one, intends to stick by Klahr.

"I like to say that I think I'm a people person," Walker says, so he's a good complement to Klahr. Plus, he adds, "I like to organize stuff."

"I tell him, I put this basket here for your school board stuff. I don't want to see it on the couch, I don't want to see it on the table. I want it in the basket. . . . When I see it on the couch, I'm like, What is that?'"

Back in the kitchen, Klahr is consulting on the phone with a potential client about a bankruptcy case. He dutifully announces that he will have to pass the call to Walker, who will assign the case to a lawyer. These days, Klahr is spending most of his time preparing a brief in his second disbarment proceeding. Again, more charges stemming from mismanagement; the hearing officer has already recommended disbarment. This is not a man with a lot of hobbies. Klahr says he likes miniature golf and bowling, and his current favorite books are Robert Caro's volumes on Lyndon Johnson, but really, all Klahr wants to do is work.

"JOOOOOOOEEEEEEEEY!" Klahr bellows, clutching the cordless phone in one hand, pulling his pants up with the other, and running down the hall to Walker's office. His voice trails off as he rounds the corner, explains the call to Joey and heads back to the dining room.

There's a loud, muffled bang, and Klahr emerges, rubbing his forehead.

"Wow! Believe it or not, I just bumped into a wall," he says, sitting down.

"Let's see, where were we?"

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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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