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Blacksburg lawyer faces DUI, gun and drug charges
Joseph G. Painter Jr. was charged after authorities investigated a report of a conflict between a man and a woman late Tuesday.
STEPHANIE KLEIN-DAVIS | The Roanoke Times
The Ashley Plantation neighborhood, with $400,000-plus homes on a golf course in Botetourt County, contains signs like these along Greenfield Street, because a convicted sex offender’s wife is building a home in the community. The husband, Calvert Anthony Thompson, has a history of sexually assaulting young women but was released from prison in June and has reconciled with his wife of 20 years. ]
Doris Ann Oliver
Thursday, February 28, 2013
A Blacksburg lawyer and a former client were arrested late Tuesday on drug and gun charges after police responded to reports of a fight between a man and a woman in a car.
Joseph G. Painter Jr., 65, was first arrested by a Montgomery County sheriff’s deputy on a charge of driving under the influence after authorities received a call at about 10:51 p.m. concerning a potential altercation in a car on North Franklin Street in Christiansburg, according to Capt. Brian Wright.
The vehicle was then located in the parking lot of the Super 8 on Laurel Street, just off of Franklin, Wright said.
An officer from the Christiansburg Police Department also responded, and Christiansburg police pursued additional charges based on information that officers gathered at the scene, Wright said.
According to a Wednesday news release from county Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt, Painter was charged by a Christiansburg police officer with one count of distribution of a Schedule IV controlled substance and two counts of selling or giving a firearm to a convicted felon.
The passenger in the vehicle, Doris Ann Oliver, 21, of Roanoke, also was arrested and charged with two counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, one count of possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, one count of possession of a controlled substance, one count of possession of controlled paraphernalia, one count of possession of marijuana and one count of possession of a concealed weapon, according to a news release from Christiansburg police.
According to online court records, Oliver pleaded guilty on two separate occasions in 2010 in Montgomery County to possessing a Schedule I or II controlled substance and to grand larceny. She received a three-year suspended sentence on the grand larceny charge, with three years of supervised probation. She was sentenced to two years in prison on the drug possession charge, with all but one month and 15 days suspended, and two years of supervised probation, according to online records.
Painter represented Oliver on the drug charge and again when Oliver later violated her probation, according to Oliver’s case file. Oliver received a six-month sentence for violating her probation, which she began serving on July 10, 2012, according to her file.
Painter sent a letter to the Montgomery County Circuit Court clerk’s office on the day that Oliver reported to jail, according to the file.
“As I have previously mentioned to you verbally, I do not want to be appointed in the future for any type of case to the above named individual,” Painter wrote, discussing Oliver. “I am now putting the same in writing. (I understand that there may well be new probation charges coming.)”
Pettitt said Wednesday that she could not comment further on the case because Painter appears regularly as a defense attorney in cases that her office prosecutes. A special prosecutor, Martinsville Commonwealth’s Attorney Joan Ziglar, has been appointed to the case, Pettitt said.
Painter, who was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1987, has been in legal trouble before, for intentionally setting a series of grass fires. In April 2001, Painter pleaded no contest to three counts of misdemeanor setting fires and pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor destruction of property, according to online records. The charges stemmed from a series of fires reported in Montgomery County’s Prices Meadow subdivision, which backs up to Painter’s former home on Rucker Road. In all, 17 brush fires were set between Sept. 11, 1999 and April 6, 2000, based on Roanoke Times reports.
The newspaper also previously reported that Painter had complained about the subdivision’s construction, particularly about what he called unstable bedrock on the lot behind his home. As part of the plea agreement in 2001, Painter received a suspended jail sentence and had to move at least a quarter-mile from the property.
His license to practice law was suspended for one year, starting in June 2003.
During a hearing on the status of his law license, Painter said, “I know that no matter what I do, I will always be known for the rest of my life as the lawyer who went crazy.”
Painter has been a candidate for numerous political offices, including two attempts at the commonwealth’s attorney’s office. In 1999, he ran unsuccessfully for the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors.
More than a decade ago, Painter sought a judgeship. The General Assembly appointed Bobby Turk, then a Radford lawyer, to fill it..
According to the website for his law practice, Painter graduated from Virginia Tech in 1969, earned a master’s degree and a doctorate at the University of Tennessee and completed his law degree at the University of Georgia in 1985.
He “has practiced law in over fifty jurisdictions in both State and Federal law at all levels” and is “well known for his expertise in firearms law,” according to the site.
Edward Davis, bar counsel for the Virginia State Bar, said Wednesday that an arrest of a lawyer can trigger a bar investigation, but Davis could not confirm or deny whether an investigation into Painter had started.
If an attorney is convicted of a felony, his or her license is summarily suspended until a hearing can be scheduled, Davis said. At that hearing, the attorney has the chance to argue why the license should not be revoked, he said. If an attorney’s license is revoked, he or she must wait at least five years before asking to be reinstated, Davis said.
Most misdemeanor convictions are assessed on a case-by-case basis, Davis said.
Both Painter and Oliver were being held without bond Wednesday in the Montgomery County Jail, according to the release from Christiansburg police. According to online records, no trial dates had been set.
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