published Friday, July 8th, 2011

Missing Palmgren computers turned over to defense attorney

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When Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office detectives entered the Signal Mountain home of a missing woman a couple of weeks ago, the family’s computers were missing.

The computers instead had been turned over to Lee Davis, an attorney representing Matthew Palmgren, the husband of Gail Palmgren, the 44-year-old mother of two who has been missing since April 30.

Davis said in an interview Thursday that the computer hard drives have been sent to technicians to see if any files or history can be recovered that might lead to Gail Palmgren.

“We’ve sent them off to see what’s on them,” he said. “Obviously, if files have been deleted, they’ve been deleted.”

When Davis was asked if Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office investigators were notified about the location of the computers, he said, “I don’t know if they know I have them here or not. I certainly assume they do.”

Janice Atkinson, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, said Thursday that she didn’t know if investigators knew where the computers were. She said she’d try to get in touch with them but didn’t respond by press time.

The consent searches of the Palmgren properties, including the couple’s Signal Mountain home on Ridge-rock Drive, a storage unit in Red Bank and lake home in Alabama, were reached in conjunction with local law enforcement, Davis and the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office.

Out of five family properties on the list, three have been searched, all with conditions set by Matthew Palmgren and his attorneys.

As of Thursday, investigators have not found any evidence of foul play or that any crime has been committed in Gail Palmgren’s disappearance. Probable cause that a crime may have been committed must be established to obtain a standard search warrant.

Davis said from what he has seen on the computers, nothing appears to be of value to finding Gail Palmgren.

“From my cursory review, there’s nothing on there. If we get any information on there that helps us identify or direct where Gail went, certainly, we would share that with them [authorities] immediately,” he said.

Attorneys handling evidence of a potential crime belonging to clients they represent is a gray area in the law, said Wesley Oliver, an associate law professor at Widener University in Pennsylvania, who used to practice law in Nashville.

Davis’ law offices are “not a storage unit,” said Oliver. “If it’s a lawyer, he knows what he has. At what point does he have an obligation to the court to prevent obstruction of justice and turn this over?”

Oliver used the comparison of a killer giving his attorney the gun used in a slaying and not necessarily disclosing how the gun was used but just saying he wanted the lawyer to hold it.

He advises students in similar situations to contact a local bar association, or in this state, the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Tennessee Supreme Court, to get a written opinion on how to proceed.

According to Tennessee Supreme Court rules of professional conduct, a set of ethical rules that govern attorney conduct, the computers would fall under the confidentiality provision, protecting them from disclosure.

Oliver argued that confidentiality of information is different than evidence.

“To me, the problem seems to be, he seems to be in possession of the computer (law enforcement) doesn’t know he has and won’t be able to discover otherwise,” Oliver said.

Clients’ statements of guilt are protected by attorney-client privilege under law.

The fact that Matthew Palmgren’s attorneys are in possession of the computers does not mean they’re exempt from a search warrant in the future.

However, Oliver said most judges are reluctant to grant warrants for law offices because of the confidential files contained on criminal cases.

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mymy said...

Could there have been someone at the home when Gail returned that forced her to leave with them hiding in the jeep?

July 8, 2011 at 7:19 a.m.
tcscpa said...

Mr. Wildman: If there is no evidence of a crime, the police cannot obtain a search warrant. Right now it is still a missing person case. The Signal Mountain police called in additional resources almost from the beginning; remember, there is no crime known at this time.

July 8, 2011 at 8:16 a.m.
rolando said...

"As of Thursday, investigators have not found any evidence of foul play or that any crime has been committed in Gail Palmgren’s disappearance. Probable cause that a crime may have been committed must be established to obtain a standard search warrant.

That one is for all the Monday-Morning Quarterbacks out there who question why the police did not search sooner.

July 8, 2011 at 11:10 a.m.
rolando said...

That is really reaching, Mymy. You have been watching way too much "reality" TV...

July 8, 2011 at 11:11 a.m.
rolando said...

And now we have an associate law professor in Pennsylvania who knows more law than the Tennessee Supreme Court. Wow! Is he good, or what.

[Italics used for emphasis]

July 8, 2011 at 11:18 a.m.
maddawg said...

One would think that if your wife was missing that you would let investigators look at your computer and search your homes and properties. What is he hiding??? What is he afraid that they will find?? This guy is involved in her disappearance!

July 8, 2011 at 11:52 a.m.
jlakeldy said...

Are there current searches taking place we may volunteer for and if could someone please post information

July 8, 2011 at 11:59 a.m.
jlakeldy said...

@Rolando, Why so negative? your comments come across as very agressive, I'm curious why the attacks?

July 8, 2011 at 12:03 p.m.
hambone said...

I don't often agree with rolando but i do here. If there was any evidence that Mr Palmgren had done anything wrong the police would have him in a straight-back chair rubber hose and all!

July 8, 2011 at 1:04 p.m.
mymy said...

In reality it is usally someone close to the victium that is involved. What we now know, the husband should be the prime suspect and someone else is probably involved. Mrs. Palmgrens was heartbroken, stressed and, I believe, the Mr. was pushing every button she had to make her look bad and him look like a victim. She had done everything she could do to prepared and protect herself for what was coming. He knew it. His plans and life were falling apart. A bad choice was made, I believe. Only time will tell, hopefully.

July 8, 2011 at 2:46 p.m.
eastridge8 said...

Good post mymy...and (I can't believe I'm saying this) wildman!

July 8, 2011 at 3:20 p.m.
rolando said...

"In reality it is usally someone close to the victium that is involved."

You are absolutely correct, mymy; it is around 70-75% of the time. Mr. Palmgren probably is the prime suspect -- or would be when and if evidence of a crime against his wife appears. Problem is, there is no such evidence.

Also, there is the matter of that other 25-30% of the time it is not someone the homicide victim knows. The benefit of the doubt MUST go to Mr Palmgren.

July 8, 2011 at 5:14 p.m.
rolando said...

A question, wildman; Do you often demand someone lose or give up his or her constitutionally guaranteed protection against unreasonable searches and seizures? The Fourth Amendment prevents exactly that.

No one can be forced or required to allow such a search without a search warrant. Refusal is no reflection of any guilt, anymore than asking for a lawyer is admitting guilt.

You continue to attack the man simply because he takes advantage of his right to refuse an otherwise illegal search. Had the police had a reason -- any legitimate reason whatsoever -- they most assuredly would have obtained that warrant and performed that search you are screaming for. Pity they didn't just go barging into his house and found evidence of his complicity...his lawyers would have had a field day with that one. None of what they found -- illegally -- would be admissible in court.

What do you find so difficult to understand about that? Read the 4th Amendment.

And 3 police responses [in Signal Mountain] for "verbal disorder" aka arguing with each other, hardly constitutes "fighting". They were in the process of divorcing. So why the inflammatory language? Anything the neighbors say in hearsay...besides, they are obviously biased.

Polygraph test results [lie detectors] are seldom admissible...simply because they prove nothing, although they are sometimes a good investigative tool -- out of fear of the things.

July 8, 2011 at 5:37 p.m.
SeaSmokie59er said...

Mr. Palmgren is going to hire Casey Anthony's lawyer. No crime scene, no body, no time of death, no manner of death. A public's outrage, rush to trial = not guilty.

July 8, 2011 at 5:40 p.m.
rolando said...

jlakeldy said, "Rolando, Why so negative? your comments come across as very agressive, I'm curious why the attacks?"

There is a history with these folks on other threads about Ms Palmgren's disappearance, jlakeldy. Citing the 4th Amendment time and again is a little tiresome and one gets a bit short at times.

There is no evidence that Ms Palmgren is dead or alive...and Mr Palmgren deserves his day in court without the media trying, convicting, and hanging him before he is even arrested...they did that in the Caylee Anthony murder investigation and now Casey Anthony -- even though found "Not Guilty" -- will never be able to appear alone in public in fear of her life. As for a job? You are kidding, right?

I simply choose not to remain silent in the face of massive, repeated, baseless, knee-jerk attacks against Mr Palmgren for no reason other than to stir up public opinion...and sell newspapers.

July 8, 2011 at 6:02 p.m.
rolando said...

He's got a pretty good pair of lawyers right now, SeaSmokie.

After the Caylee/Casey fiasco, the sheriff is showing good sense in taking it slow and steady, piling up what evidence is available.

July 8, 2011 at 6:05 p.m.
rolando said...

Oh yeah, wildman. On that "illegal" search you would have the sheriff do...not only would anything they found during the search be inadmissible, but anything they later found because of the illegal search would also be inadmissible. It is called "The Fruit Of The Poisoned Tree" doctrine. When the root is poisoned, all the fruit is, too. Their whole case, gone.

July 8, 2011 at 6:10 p.m.
Dreamcatcher said...

Matt Palmgren is pretty slick! He isn't going to leave any evidence on a computer about how he paid a scumbag 40,000 bucks to make her disappear. Nor would he tell Tammy Helton/WHORE. There are plenty of scumbags around TN that would do anything for a small amount of money and probably her jeep. The police should be stopping every jeep like hers in the whole country and check the plate number and vin. Also checking with all paint and body shops to see if the've painted any jeeps. Scumbags that are for hire are desperate and stupid enough to hang on to a jeep that is that nice and drive it or sell it.

July 8, 2011 at 7:47 p.m.
rolando said...

And you know this, how, Dream?

July 8, 2011 at 8:50 p.m.
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July 8, 2011 at 9:24 p.m.
JordanA said...

I absolutely support our Constitutional right to be free from unwarranted searches. But anyone who does not believe probable cause exists in this case is either: (A) Not paying close attention or (B) Isn't aware of all the facts surrounding Gail Palmgren's disappearance or (C) Is Matt Palmgren's CRIMINAL DEFENSE/divorce attorney.

Three witnesses say they talked with Gail Palmgren and her children the night before she disappeared. All 3 say the children were excited about plans for the next day, including getting to see a new foal on Arlene Durham's farm AND spending the day boating with their dad. Arlene loaned Gail her netbook and three people saw Gail put the ONLY key to the Palmgren boat in that laptop bag. A week later, Matt Palmgren was driving that boat. How did he get that key? Does Lee Davis have Arlene Durham's netbook?

The day after Gail disappeared, Matt Palmgren purchased new cell phones for his children. He changed their phone numbers. And her cell phone account has been cancelled due to non-payment. If she is as mentally wacky as he claims and just snapped, then one would think that her husband of 15 years (divorcing or not) would AT THE VERY LEAST have a modicum of compassion for his own children and would do everything in his power to keep communication lines open for their sake.

If Mr. Palmgren is to be believed and his wife is truly some nut case who has unraveled, one would also think that he would gladly make his children available to speak with detectives, as HE says the children were the last to see her. Instead, Mr. Palmgren has refused to allow detectives to talk with them. Mr. Palmgren himself has refused to talk with police, as has his mother, who also recently hired a criminal defense attorney (Cavett).

In the week following her disappearance, their young son asked to speak with a school counselor about his mother. When Mr. Palmgren learned of this witnesses say he threw a very public tantrum, flying into a rage at the school, demanding that no one be allowed to talk to his children about their mom.

There are many more events that in totality provide more than enough probable cause. But in truth, all that's needed is a look at Gail Palmgren's cell phone log. Who contacted her between 7:30pm EST that Friday night and 6:30am EST the next morning? When detectives have that information, they will know who is responsible for Gail Palmgren's disappearance.

July 8, 2011 at 9:28 p.m.
MarshaA said...

rolando says "There is a history with these folks on other threads about Ms Palmgren's disappearance" -- I've been reading all the articles since the news first broke in early May, and there is a history with rolando's comments, too. It's up to each person to decide for themselves what to believe or not to believe, but some anonymous commenter on a news article who says he knows more than a professor of law is probably not as knowledgeable as he thinks he is.

The facts in this case suggest Ms. Palmgren either left while under mental duress, or she was prevented from returning home by some person. Regardless of what your theory is, police had a moral and civic obligation to check this out, especially since Ms. Palmgren spoke with the police moments before she disappeared while she was driving back to Signal. The police didn't follow up and they dropped the ball, not even going to look for a woman who -- if you take Matt's word for it -- was paranoid and delusional. She could have been a harm to self or others! Why didn't they check up on her? When she disappeared, why didn't they check her computers for emails or info that could lead to her? Did they even check her cell phone?

Even if you think Matt Palmgren is innocent of everything under the sun, that is STILL unprofessional behavior from law enforcement. This is absolutely undeniable.

July 8, 2011 at 10:05 p.m.
MarshaA said...

I would also like to add a few more statistics since rolando brought them up. Per the Bureau of Justice, "one third of female murder victims were killed by an intimate" and "of all female murder victims, the proportion killed by an intimate has been increasing." The National Institute of Justice says "more than 90 percent of 'systematic, persistent, and injurious' violence is perpetrated by men." Per Yale, "61% of female homicide victims were wives or intimate acquaintances of their killers" -- their sources is the 2004 NCADV Violence Policy Center Annual Report.

These are all direct quotes so if you want to check, you can look them up. Anyone trained in law enforcement would be familiar with these statistics, one would hope.

July 8, 2011 at 10:21 p.m.
Dreamcatcher said...

I bet those poor kids are sickened by there Dad about now. Imagine what they must be thinking after all of this and watching their dad treat their mother the way he did. I bet they are in fear also just like their mother was. But they are stuck with him without options. Wish that judge wouldn't have dissolved the familys request.

July 9, 2011 at 2:09 a.m.
thinkaboutitt said...

Let the facts speak for themselves: 1. Mr. Palmgren hired a criminal attorney instead of a family attorney, to file for custody of his and Gail's children, legal separation from Gail, and exclusive use of the primary marital residence. 2. Mr. Palmgren is an adulterer and used marital assets to support his affair. 3. Mr. Palmgren is the only person who has depicted Gail as mentally ill. 4. Mr. Palmgren abuses alcohol. 5. Mr. Palmgren has been involved in numerous domestic disturbances with his wife. 6. Mr. Palmgren essentially stole from his employer, BCBS, by not attending the conference at which they sponsored his attendance. 7. Mr. Palmgren's mistress hired a criminal attorney. 8. Mr. Palmgren's mother hired a criminal attorney. 9. Mr. Palmgren has not been open with law enforcement, i.e., has not volunteered to take a polygraph test; has not made his and Gail's children available to speak with LE; and allowed a search of his and Gail's properties only after his attorneys drafted documents to his liking. 10. Mr. Palmgren and his family have not offered a reward for information leading to Gail. 11. Mr. Palmgren and his family have not participated in any searches for Gail. 12. Mr. Palmgren was forced out of his previous job as well as his most recent job. 13. Mr. Palmgren asked Gail to "show herself" instead of pleading for the return of the mother of their children, who love and miss her.

Mr. Palmgren, his mistress, and his family will answer to a higher power, the one who judges each and every one of us.

July 9, 2011 at 11:48 a.m.
alabamalady said...

You are so right! They will have to answer to God who is a loving God. God loves Gail and she has lived a life worthy of God's love.

July 9, 2011 at 9:10 p.m.
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