Mental health evaluation ordered for disbarred CT attorney


MIDDLETOWN — A decide purchased a mental health and fitness evaluation for a disbarred attorney who failed to display up for a May well courtroom day to handle her disbarment and use of shopper cash.

Middletown Top-quality Courtroom Choose Thomas Moukawsher disbarred former Hamden lawyer Nickola Cunha, 54, of Wallingford, before this year just after she filed a motion requesting that a household court judge be eliminated from a pending divorce case mainly because he “showed bias in favor of Jewish litigants and the disabled,” court docket files reported.

Cunha then frequently unsuccessful to acquire the steps demanded by Moukawsher to settle her affairs with various shoppers, officers stated. Her resistance to supply information to an appointed trustee led her to be brought to courtroom in shackles Monday subsequent a weekend in the custody of the point out Division of Correction, the decide pointed out.

“I’m quite sorry to see you had been sporting them,” Moukawsher explained of the handcuffs he asked judicial marshals to remove. A couple of minutes right after listing the quite a few possibilities he gave Cunha to supply her customer data to the trustee, the choose mentioned, “you gave the courtroom no preference.”

Cunha’s law firm, Norm Pattis, claimed in a listening to Monday afternoon that his client is struggling from a mental wellness problem that has interfered with her means to execute the judge’s orders.

“Her conduct is out of character,” Pattis claimed informed the judge. “I’m not guaranteed she is capable of aiding in her have defense.”

Pattis said he and her relatives members believe that her mental health and fitness is the explanation Cunha has not complied with court docket orders. Pattis also reported allegations that his Cunha improperly withdrew consumer money could change into 1st-degree larceny charges so she would plead the Fifth Modification if she were requested any queries during Monday’s listening to.

“The court docket gave her ample chance,” Pattis claimed. “The orders are really crystal clear about the techniques to be taken and they weren’t adopted. She’s either hiding details or she’s incapable of making what you requested.”

Moukawsher claimed the case was forcing him to weigh Cunha’s liberty verses the property of her shoppers.

“It could be the rationale she hasn’t complied with the orders to give her textbooks could be that she has one thing to cover,” the judge stated.

He then gave Pattis 15 times to occur up with a plan to have Cunha evaluated. In the meantime, the do the job of the trustee assigned to sort out the affairs of Cunha’s clientele has been stalled with at the very least 1 consumer offering a assertion, indicating she believed Cunha improperly took $78,000 from a settlement.

A judicial marshal performing on a capias warrant issued by the choose took Cunha into custody at a Wallingford cafe Friday night with the help of community law enforcement, Wallingford Police Sgt. Stephen Jaques reported. Cunha was eating with her spouse Louis when police and the marshal arrived, Jaques said. Louis Cunha tried to avert his spouse from being taken into custody and grabbed the arm of a law enforcement officer, Jaques reported.

He was billed with interfering with an officer and launched on a $5,000 surety bond. The judicial marshal took custody of his wife. Pattis said she was held by the condition Section of Corrections until eventually Monday morning.

Nickola Cunha was allowed to leave with her relatives next her courtroom visual appeal.

Cunha was slated to surface just before Moukawasher in mid-May perhaps to give a trustee with a list of client addresses and phone quantities and to offer with shopper money that officials claimed she had inappropriately held, court files reported. Cunha unsuccessful to display up, prompting the judge to difficulty a capias warrant, buying state marshals to just take her into custody to promise her visual appeal in court docket.

The deadline for the capias warrant was prolonged several times, court documents exhibit, prior to Moukawsher purchased Cunha taken into custody on May perhaps 18.

The state’s Main Disciplinary Counsel Brian Staines submitted paperwork on June 1, professing Cunha had inappropriately taken $78,000 from an incident settlement for a client after she experienced by now withheld her $96,000 rate for dealing with the situation.

Staines also claimed in the files that Cuhna initially explained to the decide she took $30,000 from the client’s incident settlement to fork out for previous pro bono perform, but “failed to explain all over the hearing that the genuine quantity she took was $78,000.”

“She experienced no authority from the customer to consider this funds,” Staines wrote in the filing.

Cunha was disbarred in January right after Moukawsher dominated she had built “empty and destructive claims,” alleging another choose was engaged in a Judaism-centered conspiracy and shielded youngster sexual abuse as section of her representation of a Glastonbury female engaged in a dissolution of relationship circumstance.

In late April, as element of the ruling, Moukawsher requested Cunha to switch above her clients’ get hold of info, together with lively and pending data files to a court docket-appointed trustee. The decide mentioned at the time that a modern withdrawal of $30,000 from a client’s account may have been illegal and expected an audit.

Cunha turned more than the data for three shoppers on May well 13, in accordance to the trustee who was appointed by the courtroom right after her disbarment. But Cunha failed to supply full information for a number of other clients, court documents said. The trustee is also on the lookout for economical details for some clientele and what Cunha did with their retainers, courtroom documents mentioned.

Ben Lambert and Liz Hardaway contributed to this story.


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