‘PTSD’ NUT OR HIGH-LEVEL COVERUP? Cunningham v. New Jersey, Part 1

A veteran is in a 13 year battle with the New Jersey Supreme Court. He alleges a cover up and wants justice to prevail, they think he’s a nut suffering from PTSD who shouldn’t be taken seriously. Who’s right?

So what’s the story? In this first part, I will address the facts as presented by John “Jack” Cunningham. Cunningham is a disabled Vietnam veteran who served with honor and was honorably discharged. He does suffer from PTSD and is currently on disability because of it. PTSD doesn’t make a person unable to tell truth from conspiracy. It’s also not something others should use to discredit and slander.

Cunningham hired the law firm of Maynard & Truland, LLC to help him with a legal matter – a divorce. He signed an Agreement to Provide Legal Services and gave them a retainer check. He became unhappy with the timeliness of the representation he received. This lack of timeliness cause a default to be entered against him in the divorce, an action that the firm took weeks to advise him had happened. It was so egregious that Cunningham’s ex-wife offered her written statement to help him defend himself in later Court documents. She stated that despite having an attorney present, Mr. Cunningham seemed to be representing himself. The kicker? Cunningham was billed for this questionable representation.

He complained to the firm and the State Ethics Committee. What he was not aware of was that a partner at that firm, Robert Correale, who had showed up at his divorce arbitration but was utterly unprepared and never spoke, was on said Ethics Committee. Correale sent a certification to the Supreme Court Office of Attorney Ethics in defense of his firm. This certification conveniently left out key facts, and per Mr. Cunningham, outright lied about others, and had no supporting documentation. Supporting documentation is a commonly accepted practice, and the absence of any throws most defenses into question.

This ethics violation was assigned for investigation to the committee that Correale was Vice-Chair. In other words, the complaint about Correale and his firm was to be investigated by Correale. A clear violation of attorney ethics as pertains to conflict of interest.

Robert Correale, Cunningham alleges, used his sphere of influence as a sitting member of the Ethics Committee, to block his allegations of legal malpractice and other ethics violations. This was even after Correale resigned from the committee. Other issues, such as conveniently disappearing court recordings before transcription, and openly mocking Cunningham in Court documents, were not unusual. He also billed him for more than his retainer and sued Cunningham for that balance when he refused to pay.

Cunningham went on a letter writing campaign that has lasted 13 years. It took the response of Governor James McGreevey to get the Office of Attorney Ethics to admit that, if Correale’s committee carried out the investigation there would be a conflict of interest. It was only then that the investigation was transferred to another committee outside Correale’s direct area of responsibility. Apparently, though, not outside of his sphere of influence.

Cunningham continued his campaign to see that Correale was charged for his ethics violations. 13 years later, this hasn’t happened.

Part 2 of this will address the issues in more depth, but I certainly question the lack of appropriate response from the law firm, McGreevey administration, or from the Christie administration. If all Cunningham’s allegations are true, and he does have plenty of written evidence to back himself up, why is this being buried? If the firm messed up, why not just admit it?

Could it be that it’s easier to just cast the complainant as a crazy Vietnam Vet who shouldn’t be taken seriously? No damages, it just quietly goes away. The problem is they underestimated this veteran. He isn’t going quietly!

More to come (watch for part 2)

Image: http://2011periodg.wikispaces.com/Post+Traumatic+Stress+Disorder

About the author: Suzanne Olden

Suzanne Reisig Olden is a Catholic Christian, Conservative, married mother of two, who loves God, family and country in that order. She lives northwest of Baltimore, in Carroll County, Maryland. She graduated from Villa Julie College/Stevenson University with a BS in Paralegal Studies and works as a paralegal for a franchise company, specializing in franchise law and intellectual property. Originally from Baltimore, and after many moves, she came home to raise her son and daughter, now high school and college aged, in her home state. Suzanne also writes for The Firebreathing Conservative website ( www.firebreathingconservative.com) and hopes you'll come visit there as well for even more discussion of conservative issues.

View all articles by Suzanne Olden

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