By Nickola Cunha
For those who accuse me of anti-Semitism, you’re 100% wrong.
I believe in equality across the board. I would have pointed the same concern out for any favoritism I felt was occurring in any courtroom.
When a litigant is subject to a written decision that wrongly states the facts, filled with findings that ignore the law, rules of practice and common sense, this is a public crisis.
Attorney Nickola Cunha claimed Judge Gerard Adelman was biased. She got disbarred.
I feel strongly and defend my reporting of the concerns.
As a human being and citizen of CT and the USA, I have the right to expect and be guaranteed that my human rights and those of my clients are not ignored or purposefully violated.
I’m not perfect and never held myself out to be. But I have always vigorously represented every client, regardless of the legal matter. It’s very easy for anyone to Monday morning quarterback. Critiquing and poking holes in someone else’s work is always easy.
I knew what was occurring. Judge Adelman treated me and my client, and her witnesses, with bias and disrespect. I’ve tried many cases in many areas of law. I appeared before many family court judges, some of whom I admire and respect.
This was judicial bias.
Judge Lynda B. Munro
One of my hardest trials was before Judge Lynda Munro. I admired her knowledge of the law, her adherence to the law, and the respect she extended to all in her courtroom, equally, even though the case involved horrendous evidence she had to sit through.
It was my first complex family law trial.
The attorneys in that case were far more experienced than I in dealing with the complex nature of the case. I stood my ground, worked day and night to try and keep up with the other attorneys. They were not easy on me, and sometimes they didn’t appreciate the way I handled things. I admire and respect them to this day. They taught me a lot, and as hard as that trial was, it was rewarding to me as a professional.
Over 20 years have passed between my first complex family trial at the regional court and the matter that ultimately ended my career that I love, and worked hard to be the best I could be.
I witnessed and was subject to what I believe is unacceptable judicial bias. In Ambrose v Riordan, I believe the case was filled with downright judicial abuse.
It was my ethical obligation to report what I believe were serious concerns. I found it hypocritical and a direct conflict that when I reported and directed the court to evidence to support my concerns, I was retaliated against. I was noticed for a hearing to show cause for my alleged conduct in front of the court.
While trying to prepare for the hearing to show cause, I was denied access to the record to prepare. I was treated with the utmost disrespect. I was ambushed with allegations by disciplinary counsel with no advance notice, and denied the opportunity to offer any evidence.
My matter is subject to a pending writ of error. Therefore, I’m going to hold back on specific details. What I will repeat is, unless someone has reviewed the entire record, and the full exhibits offered to the court before I was summarily disbarred, they are not qualified to make valid criticism.
I will end with this:
From my perspective, there are no winners or losers in family court. I believe in the commitment of marriage. I believe the more people – family first, then friends and community involved with raising children, the better. This is in the children’s best interest. I don’t believe any parent should use their children for gain.
I believe that no matter what a person’s status or age, whether a litigant or otherwise, when they contact a public official with information that rises to the need for investigation, that should happen based on the standards and laws those officials are supposed to follow. That did not occur in the Ambrose case, and does not occur in many so-called complex family matters.
So I offer this as food for thought: Maybe the concern in the Ambrose case was that the ones participating in bias, and financially benefiting from this case, had to ensure I was gone before I put my client’s case on.
Karen Riordan and Chris Ambrose. Ambrose put on his case. When it came time for Riordan to put on her case, Judge Adelman ordered a hearing on his own bias.
At the hearing on Judge Adelman’s bias, Judge Thomas Moukawsher decided he wanted another hearing on attorney Nickola Cunha’s conduct. At that hearing, he disbarred Cunha.
In CT, unlike other states, a judge can summarily disbar an attorney.
The consequences of this case reached beyond the family unit. It’s a tragedy for the state. What happened to the mother, Karen Riordan, the three children, their extended maternal family, their lifelong friends and the community, cannot be remedied. However, it can be used to learn and work towards helping those harmed recover.