How disbarred TB lawyer will pay for court-ordered mental health assessment remains unclear

Hamden’s former lawyer, disbarred, accused of making anti-Semitic remarks about a judge, asked her insurer to foot the bill for a mental health assessment to determine if she was suffering from a “condition” that would prevent him from following court orders, his lawyer said on Tuesday.

Nickola Cunha had until Tuesday to provide Middletown Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher with a plan to obtain the appraisal, which his lawyer Norm Pattis said could cost up to $15,000 if carried out by clinicians associated with Yale University.

As of last week, Cunha’s family did not have the money to pay for the Yale evaluation, which Pattis considered the “gold standard” for determining whether a client is competent to participate in their own defense.

On Tuesday, Pattis told Moukawsher in remote court proceedings that his client’s insurer had agreed to pay for the assessment, but there’s a catch – it can’t be ‘classified as a competency assessment’ . Pattis did not explain why the insurer wanted specific language. Instead, he asked the judge for a “short leash” and a court date within a week to confirm the insurance company would pay.

“We’re not 100% sure, but we think we’ve solved the problem,” Pattis said of the question of who will pay for the assessment.

Unlike criminal proceedings where the state pays to determine whether a defendant is competent to participate in his own defense, clinicians would consider whether Cunha, who repeatedly defied Moukawsher’s orders, had a mental health condition that prevented him to cooperate with the details of his disbarment. The judge said Cunha failed to provide the exact names and contact details of the clients and the detailed recipients for the time she spent on their cases.

Moukawsher struck off Cunha, 54, of Wallingford, earlier this year after filing a motion asking that a family court judge be removed from an ongoing divorce case because he “showed bias in favor of Jewish litigants and persons with disabilities,” according to court documents.

Cunha then repeatedly failed to take steps required by Moukawsher to settle his affairs with several clients, according to court documents. Her resistance to providing information to an appointed administrator led to her being arraigned in shackles this month after a weekend in the custody of the state Department of Corrections, the judge pointed out.

During that court appearance, Pattis argued that her client may have a mental health issue and that she would invoke the Fifth Amendment if asked about her billing practices. At least one client has accused Cunha of taking $70,000 from a settlement without his permission or knowledge, according to court documents.

After discussing the mental health assessment plan, Moukawsher asked Pattis and Brian Staines, the state’s chief disciplinary counsel, if they had been contacted by prosecutors about possible charges related to the claims. client.

“Is there any activity I should be aware of? asked the judge on Tuesday.

Pattis and Staines said they have not been contacted by any attorneys regarding Cunha’s clients. Moukawsher then agreed to give Pattis a week to confirm that the insurer would pay for the assessment.

Cunha was disbarred in January after Moukawsher ruled she made ’empty and malicious claims’, alleging another judge was engaged in a Judaism-based conspiracy and protected child sexual abuse in as part of her depiction of a Glastonbury woman engaged in a marriage dissolution case. .

As part of the ruling, Moukawsher ordered Cunha in April to turn over his clients’ contact information, along with active and pending cases, to a court-appointed trustee. The judge noted at the time that a recent withdrawal of $30,000 from a client’s account may have been illegal and required verification. That figure jumped to $78,000 after a discussion with the client, Staines said in court documents.

Cunha handed over the information for three clients on May 13, according to the trustee who was appointed by the court after he was disbarred. But Cunha did not provide full information on several other clients, according to court documents.

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