Shania Twain stalker John Palumbo leaves Old City Hall Court in downtown Toronto on Tuesday November 15, 2011.
Credits: TORONTO SUN/Ernest Doroszuk/QMI AGENCY
Palumbo, 51, filed appeal documents last week, stating "the learned trial judge erred in accepting my plea of guilty" and sentencing him to a suspended sentence and three years probation on top of 7.5 months of time already served.
Palumbo pleaded guilty to criminal harassment and fail to comply with a recognizance for attending the Junos in Toronto, where Twain appeared in March.
The country superstar appeared via closed-circuit TV to testify at his trial in September. After hearing her testify, Palumbo abruptly changed his plea to guilty and was sentenced Nov. 15 by Justice Richard Schneider.
Palumbo's court documents filed at the Superior Court of Ontario indicates he wants either an acquittal or a new trial.
"This new trial would allow him to have Shania Twain back in his life as it did in the last trial," said veteran defence lawyer Cynthia Fromstein, who isn't his counsel but has practiced for more than 25 years.
"It's a way of legitimately keeping her in his life in their non-existent relationship, except in his mind," she said in an interview,
noting that striking a guilty plea isn't easy.
"Judges conduct plea inquiries beforehand, asking the accused if they understand that they are giving up their right to a trial and that no one is forcing you to plead guilty," said Fromstein.
Another defence lawyer said Schneider, who regularly presides over mental health court in Toronto and has a wealth of experience in the field, "is the best judge for this sort of case."
Palumbo's obsession with Twain has cost him almost eight months of freedom and his $250,000-a-year job as a surgical assistant in Ottawa.
His medical licence was suspended in May and the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons will hold a fitness to practice committee hearing at an undetermined future date, said senior communications co-ordinator Kathryn Clarke.
The hearings, which are closed to the public, could result in penalties ranging from a continued suspension, reinstatement with conditions or the permanent loss of his licence.
Dr. Helen Ward, the Ottawa forensic psychiatrist who treated the disgraced doctor between May 2010 and March 2011, has diagnosed Palumbo with bipolar disorder and narcissistic personality disorder in several court-ordered assessments.
She said that he knew exactly what he was doing but just didn't care.
Mental illness has plagued Palumbo over the past 20 years, starting during a London, Ont., residency, where he returned to Ottawa in 1991 and was admitted to hospital as a patient.
Depressed and suicidal, he reacted poorly to anti-depressants but was discharged within three days, and then improved.
He was back in hospital in the summer of 1992.