Cushingberry facing allegations he neglected a legal case - KMSP-TV

More troubles for Cushingberry? Facing allegations he neglected a legal case he took on

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(WJBK) -

George Cushingberry Jr.'s first month on Detroit City Council has been memorable -- for all the wrong reasons. Now his latest controversy comes from a legal case he took and allegedly neglected a couple of years ago.

Paul Haddad hired Cushingberry to convince state officials his Detroit market should stay eligible to participate in the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program.

We agreed on one thousand. Five hundred now, five hundred when we go to Lansing," Haddad tells Fox 2's M.L. Elrick.

Getting kicked out of WIC would mean Haddad's store could no longer accept food stamps, which are a big part of his business.

"So, I offered [Cushingberry] the $500. And then I kept getting administrative hearing dates and they kept getting canceled. So I'm thinking, ok, well that's him doing the work," Haddad thought.

But then Haddad got a letter from the state.

"I opened the letter to see when the next court date is. And guess what. It said your license is suspended due to default. Default? So I contacted them and they said that, you never had a cancellation, you were supposed to do this morning, and Mr. Cushingberry - we contacted him twice and he never answered," says Haddad.

Haddad says his business got kicked out of the WIC and food stamp programs.

The business diminished by 70 percent. That's when I took action with the Grievance Committee," he says.

Haddad's complaint to the Attorney Grievance Commission was a sore subject when Elrick stopped by Cushingberry's home and law office.


Elrick asks Cushingberry, "Mr. Haddad says you ripped him off. What do you say to that?"

Cushingberry responds, "He's full of shit."

Cushingberry's lawyer says the councilman will likely agree to give up his law license temporarily, but he's not admitting guilt.

"There's a lot of different ways that you can look at what's transpired and, you know how my grandmother always said there's three truths: There's what they say, it's what he says, and it's right there in the middle you find the truth," says Todd Perkins.

Perkins says he would be comfortable hiring Cushingberry as a lawyer. "I've found that some of the problems between lawyers and clients is definitely just in the grounds of communication."

Larry Dubin is a former chairman of the Attorney Grievance Commission. He's also a University of Detroit Mercy law professor. "I teach my students the need for good communication with clients, the need to do what you're supposed to do when you're supposed to do it. This is part of the privilege of being a lawyer, so I think lawyers need to take that very seriously. ... There are a number of lawyers who don't. And they need to be disciplined, and the system needs to protect the public from them," he says.

Cushingberry made news last week when it was discovered he was ticketed and released after an open alcoholic beverage container and marijuana were discovered inside his vehicle during a traffic stop on January 7, 2014. Cushingberry admits a strong smell of marijuana was present, but he attributes it to the second passenger in the vehicle who has a medical marijuana card. He also says an empty rum bottle was from an old party.

Cushingberry, who is black, believes he was a victim of racial profiling when police stopped him. Police Chief James Craig says one of the officers was black. Craig has ordered an internal investigation of the actions of a police supervisor who released Cushingberry, who was issued a ticket for failing to use a turn signal. The city's inspector general is also investigating Cushingberry's conduct.

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