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Real estate attorney James P. Cullen dead at 72

Anderson Kill is grieved to announce the passing of James P. Cullen, an eminent human rights and real estate attorney who was a member of the firm’s Real Estate and Construction practice until his retirement in December 2016. Mr. Cullen, 72, died at his home on December 8. The cause was cancer.

James P. Cullen

Mr. Cullen practiced in the real estate and construction law fields for over 40 years, negotiating contracts for projects including hospitals, schools and water treatment plants, including projects valued in excess of $500 million. He counseled numerous not-for-profit institutions and governmental entities to help them plan and execute projects to meet future physical plant needs.

Prior to joining Anderson Kill in 2002, Mr. Cullen headed the construction and real estate department for Deforest & Duer. Previously, he was the Assistant Counsel to the New York City Educational Construction Fund. While at Anderson Kill, he negotiated landmark construction agreements on behalf of the Fund, committing developers to build new schools as part of mixed-used projects at zero cost to the City in exchange for long-term leases granting air rights.  These included P.S. 59 and the High School of Art and Design, a combined school on East 57th Street in Manhattan, and Middle School 114 on East 91st Street, also in Manhattan.

Mr Cullen served for decades in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps in the U.S. military, beginning his service as an army private in 1969 after graduating from law school, and serving later as a brigadier general in the Army Reserve JAG and Chief Judge (IMA) of the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals. While in the army, he represented a chaplain in the investigation into whether there had been a cover-up of the 1968 My Lai massacre in Vietnam.

Mr. Cullen also worked for decades as a human rights advocate. In the early years of this century Mr. Cullen was an adviser to Human Rights First, a group of retired generals and admirals seeking to change the Bush administration’s detention and interrogation policies.  He was present in the Oval Office when President Obama, on his first day in office in January 2009, signed a series of executive orders banning torture and instituting a review of detention policies. He was  active on behalf of the Irish Republican movement, becoming president of Friends of Sinn Féin in 2012. He also served as Secretary/Treasurer of the New York Construction Industry Disaster Relief Fund, Inc.

James P. Cullen (right) with President Obama

“Jim devoted his career to service — to his country, to the City of New York, to hospitals and other nonprofits, to all his clients in the construction industry, and to human rights globally,” said Robert M. Horkovich. “We were proud and lucky to have him as a member of the Anderson Kill community. He will be sorely missed.”

Mr. Cullen earned a B.A. from Iona College and a J.D. from  St. John’s University.

Mr. Cullen is survived by his partner, Catherine Kelly, his children, Tara Carbonaro (husband Salvatore) of Wilton, CT, Kerry Bartelemucci (husband Lawrence) of Katonah, NY, Erin Stilp (husband Erik) of Milwaukee, WI, and Sean Cullen (wife Lindsey) of Scarsdale, NY, their mother, Traudy Cullen, and eight grandchildren.

A wake for Mr. Cullen will take place on Wednesday, December 13th,,4:00- 8:00 PM  at McMahon funeral Home, 491 Mamaroneck Ave., White Plains, NY 10605. The funeral service is on December 14th, 10:00 a.m. at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, 5th Ave, New York, NY.

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