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In re Cullen

Decided: September 27, 1988.

IN THE MATTER OF JOHN J. CULLEN, AN ATTORNEY AT LAW

ORDER

The Disciplinary Review Board having filed a report with the Supreme Court recommending that JOHN J. CULLEN of HACKENSACK, who was admitted to the Bar of this State in 1973, be suspended from the practice of law for a period of six months, and good cause appearing;

It is ORDERED that the report and recommendation of the Disciplinary Review Board is hereby adopted and JOHN J. CULLEN is suspended from the practice of law for a period of six months, effective October 11, 1988, and until the further order of this Court; and it is further

Ordered that any application by respondent for restoration to the practice of law is to be accompanied by his submission of a psychiatric evaluation, at respondent's expense, by a psychiatrist to be appointed by the Board; and it is further

Ordered that the restoration of respondent shall be conditioned on his practice of law under the supervision of proctor for a minimum of two years with the proctorship to be conducted in accordance with Administrative Guideline No. 23; and it is further

ORDERED that respondent be and hereby is restrained and enjoined from practicing law during the period of his suspension; and it is further

Ordered that respondent comply with Administrative Guideline No. 23 of the Office of Attorney Ethics dealing with suspended attorneys.

APPENDIX

Report and Recommendation of the Disciplinary Review Board

This matter is before the Board based upon a presentment filed by the District XI (Passaic County) Ethics Committee as well as the Board's determination to hold oral argument on a separate recommendation from said committee that respondent be privately reprimanded for his actions in an unrelated matter.

THE JOHNSON MATTER

In March 1980 respondent was retained by Edward W. Johnson to handle a medical malpractice action. Mr. Johnson's wife, Aurelia, had been admitted to the hospital on August 10, 1979, with a confirmed diagnosis of Guillian-Barre Syndrome, a viral infection affecting the central nervous system. On November 17, 1979, the respirator supporting Mrs. Johnson malfunctioned, depriving her of oxygen for an undetermined amount of time and causing her to lapse into a coma. On May 7, 1980, Mrs. Johnson died without having regained consciousness.

On November 17, 1981, two years after the incident resulting in Mrs. Johnson's death, respondent filed a wrongful death action against the hospital, doctors and others entrusted with Mrs. Johnson's care, and the manufacturer of the respirator. The defendants filed their answers and served interrogatories upon respondent in December 1981 and January 1982. On February 11, 1982, the defendant manufacturer moved for and received an order compelling respondent to file more specific

pleadings identifying the model or serial number of the respirator alleged to have malfunctioned.

On April 14, 1982, when respondent's answers to interrogatories which were due on March 14, 1982, were not forthcoming, counsel for the defendant hospital filed a motion to compel answers to interrogatories and experts' reports. The court granted this motion and further directed that in the event respondent failed to answer interrogatories and supply experts' reports within 30 days, counsel could file an ex parte order for ...


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