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Israel Bar Association’s Disgraceful Cover Up

This is a summary of my complaint to the Ethics Committee of the Israel Bar Association and the disgraceful way in which they conspired to cover up my complaints against Attorney Gilad Corinaldi (גלעד קורינאלדי) .

See the Hebrew version here.

In February 2007 I received from Attorney Gilad Corinaldi (גלעד קורינאלדי) a brutally-worded threatening letter in which he declared that he was giving me “five days of grace” to pay his client “a more than appropriate sum of money, otherwise his client would contact the media and set up a special web site to publicize to the world her accusations against me. “Your fate is in your hands … Your good name and the future of your works hang in the balance,” he wrote. “A word to the wise should be sufficient.”

NOTE: I should add that before that day, I had never heard of either Gilad Corinaldi or Michal Tal. I had certainly never read her self-published vanity-press book. The table of similarities she later presented to the court consisted of fabricated quotes from my book compared to suitably doctored quotes from hers. One of the so-called similarities was that one of her characters had brown hair while one of mine had black hair, evidence, she claimed, not only of copying but also of a clumsy attempt to hide my tracks. There were more than 50 pages of this sort of delusional nonsense.

On Thursday, 22 February 2007, in an ex parte session (that is, a session of which I was unaware and did not attend) of the Jerusalem District Court, Mr. Corinaldi requested and obtained two injunctions against me and my publishers, on the grounds that he had been unable to contact me and that there was a real danger that I would flee the country and spirit my assets out as well. This, despite the fact that a day earlier, he had received by fax a letter from my lawyer (Mr. Mibi Moser) in response to his extortionist letter.

In his request to the court, Mr. Corinaldi wrote that he did not know my land line number, but hid from the court the fact that he had called my cell phone two nights earlier and spoken to my husband, who told him that I had in fact gotten his letter and that he would be receiving a response from my lawyers the next day.

Inexplicably, the court did not ask Mr. Corinaldi to support his allegations with any kind of proof. Even though both books had been published a decade before, the judge accepted Mr. Corinaldi’s argument that the matter was urgent and justified an ex-parte session. The judge took Mr. Corinaldi’s word for everything and granted the injunctions, ordering that all copies of The Ghost of Hannah Mendes be removed from bookstores, no questions asked. In fact, the judge even ignored Mr. Corinaldi’s statement (strategically buried deep in a paragraph at the end of his motion) acknowledging his receipt of my lawyer’s letter a day earlier.

All of this happened without my being present to defend myself. So much for due process and fair hearings.

I later learned that I was neither the first nor the only victim of Mr. Corinaldi’s tactic of an urgent ex-parte session late Thursday afternoon followed by front page coverage in the weekend press. The same thing had happened in the David Hachi Tov (דוד הכי טוב) case, with the same judge.

The next day, all the weekend papers carried the story on page one. I only learned of what had happened when a reporter I did not know called me at home (on my land line) at 6:45 AM, but by then it was too late. My side of the story was absent from all the media reports.

On the advice of my attorneys, I submitted to the Ethics Committee of the Jerusalem Bar Association two complaints against Mr. Corinaldi: the first about his brutal letter (which I considered to be an attempt at extortion) and the second about his alleged lies to the court, and that he had allegedly had his client sign a affidavit which he knew to be false. I have been told that these are serious charges, and that in the past, attorneys have been disbarred for similar offences.

In his first response to my complaints, Mr. Corinaldi ignored the complaints and instead demanded that the Bar Association impose a fine upon me because I had dared to file complaints against him. A year later, when the Ethics Committee had still not come to a decision, Mr. Corinaldi hired the previous chairman of the Ethics Committee, Attorney Toussia-Cohen, who wrote a letter in which he claimed that I was a hysterical woman who had been unable to appreciate the conciliatory and gentle tone of Mr. Corinaldi’s letter. Not a word about the second, much more serious complaint.

Eventually the Jerusalem Ethics Committee accepted Mr. Corinaldi’s position as presented by its former chairman while completely ignoring the second complaint. I appealed to the National Ethics Committee, which upheld the Jerusalem Ethics Committee’s decision. The National Ethics Committee also had not a word to say about the second complaint.

I then filed an administrative appeal with the Tel Aviv District Court, asking that the National Ethics Committee be ordered to rule on my second complaint. The National Ethics Committee responded that I was mistaken: both Ethics Committees had ruled on the second complaint, but alas, through a series of unfortunate clerical errors, had twice “forgotten” to inform me of their rulings.

In response to my claim that Mr. Corinaldi had never even responded to the second complaint, the National Ethics Committee suddenly produced a response of his, dated a year earlier, of which they had also conveniently “forgotten” to inform me. In fact, the response was dated after the Jerusalem Ethics Committee’s decision, meaning that the Jerusalem Ethics Committee had accepted Mr. Corinaldi’s position without even knowing what it was.

Mr. Corinaldi’s father, Professor Michael Corinaldi, is a well-known attorney and Professor of Law at Haifa University, who was once considered for a position on the Israel Supreme Court and who has held senior positions in the Israel Bar Association.

At the administrative hearing in the Tel Aviv District Court, the court ruled that it had no jurisdiction over the Israel Bar Association, and advised me to withdraw my appeal, otherwise I might have to pay the Bar Association’s legal fees. I had no real choice but to accept the court’s advice. The Bar Association’s attorney asked me why I was making such a big deal of this: after all, Mr. Corinaldi hadn’t threatened to murder me.

The judge suggested I complain to the police, but the police said that since my complaints were against a lawyer, I should complain to the Israel Bar Association, and even gave me the phone number. Very helpful.

At the end of 2010 (almost four years after I received the letter), the plaintiff Michal Tal died. Even though at the time, all the evidence (such as there was) and testimony had been presented, the court chose to simply cancel the case, rather than issue a verdict based on the available evidence, thus leaving open the possibility that the heirs could re-file and subject me to many more years of abuse and expense.

I appealed the District Court’s ruling to the Supreme Court, and the heirs chose to withdraw the case and concede that there had never been any factual basis for the accusations. On January 3, 2012, the Supreme Court ruled in my favor, ruling that “There is not and never was any basis whatsoever for any claim of plagiarism or copyright infringement brought against Naomi Ragen in the Jerusalem District Court”.

Tal’s claims were delusional,but the travesties and suffering I endured for five years over this frivolous case were very real. It has been a truly horrifying experience for me and my family. I am immensely pleased that justice has been finally been served and that the truth has come out in this case.  It is my hope and belief that just as the truth has come to light in this case,   I will eventually be fully exonerated in the other cases against me.

Here this painful story will end, I hope, until the next delusional wannabe writer decides to make a name for herself or himself at my expense.