BEFORE THE HEARING BOARD

OF THE

ILLINOIS ATTORNEY REGISTRATION

AND

DISCIPLINARY COMMISSION

In the Matter of:

JOANNE MARIE DENISON,

Attorney-Respondent,

No. 6192441.

Commission No.  2013PR00001

FILED ---  January 8, 2013

COMPLAINT

Jerome Larkin, Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, by his attorney, Lea S. Black, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 753(b), complains of Respondent, JoAnne Marie Denison, who was licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois on May 8, 1986, and alleges that Respondent has engaged in the following conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute, and which should subject her to discipline pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 770:

 

(False Statements about judicial officials)

 

1.                  On July 20, 2009, Carolyn Toerpe ("Toerpe") filed a petition in the Circuit Court of Cook County to have her mother, Mary Sykes, adjudicated a disabled person due to concerns that Sykes suffered from dementia.  Toerpe's petition also sought Toerpe's appointment as the guardian of Sykes' estate and person.   The Circuit Court Clerk docketed the matter as Estate of Mary Sykes, docket number 2009 P 4585. 

2.                  On or about July 24, 2009, the court appointed Cynthia Farenga ("Farenga") as Sykes' guardian ad litem.  On August 26, 2009, because Farenga was unable to attend court, the court appointed Adam Stern ("Stern") special guardian ad litem, and both Farenga and Stern served as guardians ad litem for Sykes at all times alleged in this complaint.

3.                  On November 3, 2009, Sykes' other daughter, Gloria Sykes ("Gloria"), filed a cross-petition  in case number 2009 P 4585, nominating the Cook County Public Guardian to serve as Sykes' guardian.  Shortly thereafter, Gloria orally sought to be appointed the guardian of Sykes' estate and person without amending her written cross-petition.

4.                  In or before November 2009, Respondent was contacted by Gloria regarding matters related to Sykes' estate.  In or about November 2009, Respondent filed an appearance on behalf of Gloria; however, on December 7, 2009, Respondent was disqualified from Representing Gloria due to the fact that Respondent had notarized the signatures of Mary and Gloria on a document that gave Gloria Mary's entire interest in a lawsuit at a time when Mary may have been suffering from dementia.

5.                  On December 10, 2009, the court adjudicated Sykes disabled based upon the report of Dr. Mark Amdur that Sykes was incompetent, and the court appointed Toerpe the plenary guardian of Sykes' estate and person after a contested hearing on the care plans proposed by Toerpe and Gloria.  On December 18, 2009, Gloria filed a motion to reconsider the December 10, 2009 order appointing Toerpe as Sykes' plenary guardian, which was subsequently denied.

6.                  Between December 2009 and November 2011, the court made various findings of law in relation to the Sykes case, some of which involved Gloria's ownership in certain property.  In or about November 2011, Respondent began writing and publishing two Internet web logs ("blogs") devoted to discussing matters related to Mary Sykes' probate matter.  The two blogs were entitled, "marygsykes - An attorney blog concerning corruption and greed in the Probate Court of Cook County," and "marygsykes," respectively.  Respondent posted her own writings as well as the writings of others on both blogs.  Those writings included allegations that there was corruption in the probate court of Cook County, particularly in relation to Mary Sykes' probate case, that Sykes was the victim of elder abuse, and that the GALs and the court had acted inappropriately with respect to Sykes' estate, that they had violated the law, and that they had physically or mentally harmed Sykes. 

7.                  Respondent's blogs were open to the public and were not password-protected.  Respondent knew or should have known that the contents of her blogs were continuously available to anyone with access to the Internet.  Respondent a purported disclaimer on her blogs, which included the following language:

Sorry, but portions of this blog have to be entertaining so we can get the word out.  There is most certainly a great deal of (stinging) truth in it, esp. for the GAL's (sic), the probate court and a society that ignores (thereby condoning) the sleazy world of probate, and in particular the 18th floor of the Daley Center in Chicago, but everyone needs to understand, these are not pleadings, there is no Motion, Response and Reply set by any court, together with extended legal argument recorded by a court reporter and subject to a Motion to Reconsider if errors or new evidence is found. 

 

8.                  In her blog posts, Respondent refers to Adam Stern as "AS," Cynthia Farenga as "CF," Carolyn Toerpe as "CT," Toerpe's attorney Peter Schmiedel as "PS," and herself as "JD" or "JMD."  Respondent referred to Kenneth Ditkowsky, who also wrote articles relating to the Sykes case which Respondent posted on her blogs, either by his full name, or as "KD" or "KDD."

9.                  The blog posts referred to in paragraphs six, seven, and eight, above, include, but are not limited to the following posts:

a.   An April 19, 2012 blog entry entitled "Ken Ditkowsky's answer to the complaint filed against him by the ARDC via Cynthia Farenga," wherein Respondent suggests that the GALs and the Guardian ad Litem stole Mary Sykes' money by stating:

Kend (sic) Ditkowsky and I have been caught up in all of this because we have been working tirelessly on this blog and to inform others of this situation-and those attorneys who will churn fees at hundreds of dollars per hour-want us silenced.  They apparently have a lot of clout in Probate and even with the ARDC…

And I would like to note (JMD) that if you follow the money trail, it leads directly to the Plenary Guardian, the GALS's (sic) Adam Stern and Cynthia Farenga, and the Guardian's attorney's (sic) Harvey Waller and Peter Schmeidel/Dorothy Soehlig!

b.   An April 25, 2012 blog entry entitled "Ken Ditkowsky, esq. continues to find parallels to other cases…," stating:

 

As in the Sykes case, currently the GAL is adding other attorneys to the case to outlawyer the daughter and churn the feeding freenzy (sic)-all with court connected lawyers.

 

c.   An April 28, 2012 blog entry entitled "Fax to Lea Black at the Ill ARDC," stating:

Amazingly over six (6) months what was found is a clear pattern to exclude, snub, snob and ignore any pleading that Gloria filed, while on the otherhand (sic), anything offered either orally or by mere hint of suggestion by the tortfeasors (GAL's (sic) Adam Stern-AS, Cynthia Farenga-CF, the plenary guardian's attorney Peter Schmeidel and company - PS) was grated (sic) without findings, no hearing, no discussion, and often without any written Motion or Notice of Motion-a situation prohibited by Local Rule 2.1 which says all Motions must be in writing  and the movant must provide proper notice to adverse parties.

Isn't this the classic case of corruption?...

The judge in the Probate Court declared in August of 2011 she did not have to follow court rules or Illinois Statutes pertaining to Civil Procedure in Court-she was exempt. Then she grants this privilege to the court officer miscreants-and now it is clear for the world to see this is a continuing pattern, ala Dorothy Brown who has finally provided some meager form of computerization to the Circuit Courts.

Why aren't the Circuit Courts of Cook County computerized when the federal courts have been computerized since 200? (sic) 1) a thousand incompetent and computer illiterate patronage workers would have to be fired in a single day (although Dorothy Brown COULD keep them on as historical imagers pushing papers thru scanners, that's what I would do until they died or passed over to the eternal world of civil servant); and 2) politically connected judges and their puppet attorneys (the GAL's) would be exposed for what they are:  money grubbing, family strife churning leeches that create nothing but pain and misery in a family while swiping free parking money out of a well funded estate.

d.   A May 24, 2012 blog entry entitled "From Ken Ditkowksy - Reasons for a number of agencies to get involved and investigate," accusing the GALs and the judges of engaging in a conspiracy in relation to Mary Sykes by stating:

 

Again, the entire case was railroaded, the file was peppered with packs of lies, and these lies were rubber stamped by AS, CF and the Probate Court in a "done deal."

Scary.

 

e.   A June 1, 2012 blog entry entitled "You'll need some real maple syrup for this transcript and all the waffles it provides," stating:

 

Not to beat the making of waffles to death (pun intended), but from this transcript,[1] it is clear the judge is talking to the miscreant attys in the hallway, Scott and Gloria always see them coming from behind the judge's private areas, and it is clear that the court is being spoonfed BS law by atty miscreants rather than having to actually read cases and make decisions based upon briefing schedules.

 

f.    A July 7, 2012 posting entitled "Fax to Mr. Kevin Connelly, Sheriff's dept regarding seizure of attorney laptops for whistle blowing," stating:

 

I am an attorney running a blog on http://www.marygsykes.com/ which appears to be a very corrupt case, with corruption reaching to the highest levels, including the ARDC…

 

So just let me know if you are on the side of cleaning up the courts or if you are a SOP patronage worker that fears every day to be thrown under the bus for whistleblowing.  You get a choice today.  I think Judge Evans made his choice.  Too bad it's now permanently on the internet tagged under "corruption."

                       

g.   A document accessible from a link on the blog entitled "Table of Torts" wherein Respondent accuses Toerpe, Schmiedel, Stern, Farenga, the probate court, and others of wrongful action, including:

 

CT, CF, AS, PS and HW stand to benefit handsomely by declaring Mary incompetent, evicting Gloria, selling her home - all against her wishes.  The court does not stop this greed and evil.

 

In scary shades of Greylord revisited, JD notices that CF and AS are walking the hallways in the judges' private areas BEHIND the court room (12/21/11 status)… But unescorted trips to the judges' private area is a sure fire indicator of corruption…          

 

Additional torts.  It should be noted that because the Probate case involving Mary is without subject matter jurisdiction, the court and the GAL's actions were ultra vires or without any authority.  Hence, Judge Stuart's chaining of Gloria to tell all about her bank accounts was false imprisonment.  Further, AS, CF, and CT sent numerous pleadings by USPS and via the internet, and those would constitute mail fraud, wire fraud (Comcast is a wired service) and cyber fraud.  Thanks to KD pointing this out.

 

h.   A July 31, 2012, blog entry entitled "For Cynthia Farenga - Motion to Dismiss/Non Suit For Lack of Sodini Jurisdiction" wherein, Respondent posts a purported motion to dismiss Sykes' probate matter and falsely lists Farenga as the person who prepared the motion.

 

i.    A July 28, 2012 blog entry entitled "My fax to Diane Saltoun, Executive Director at the Illinois Atty General," stating:

 

While the above case has a long, long history, much of which is documented on a blog to be found at www.marygsykes.com, the reality of the situation is that this probate proceeding boils down to garden variety theft, embezzlement, malpractice and malfeasance by attorneys and the court…

Please look at the attached and all the information I will fax you shortly.  This is a case that could be bigger than Greylord-what is being done to deprive grandma and grandpa of their civil rights and how the Probate court (routinely) operates.

j.    An August 21, 2012 blog entry entitled "Altered court orders, fabricating attorneys, the saga continues," stating:

Going back to last Thursday, I believe 3 orders were drafted up on those 3 issues 1) the Motion to Dismiss (and Gloria asked the judge to add in the grounds and she did-numerous Motion (sic) to Dismiss had been denied; 2) a motion to enter and continue Dr. Shaw's testimony; and 3) I believe Amanda wanted the judge to issue another order firmly barring all of Gloria's evidence and testimony.

Orders one and two are linked below:

Nothing like the time honored true fashion of if you don't like what the order said when the parties agreed, just get the judge behind closed doors and get her to alter it.  And do it messily and have two "entered" stamps on it.

Even a grammar school child can forge a parental note with more skill and care than the minimal amount which was taken in this matter to cover up the tracks of their torts by these bumbling miscreants!

10.              Respondent's blog posts, as set forth in paragraph nine, above, that there was impropriety going on in relation to the Sykes case; that the GALs and the judges were corrupt; that the GALs and the court had engaged in financial exploitation or had financially profited in some way in relation to Sykes' guardianship case; that the judge had inappropriately taken away Sykes' rights; and that Stern, Farenga, and the judge had committed crimes, were false.

11.              Respondent either knew that her statements as described in paragraph nine, above, were false or she made the statements with reckless disregard as to their truth or falsity.

12.              By reason of the conduct described above, Respondent has engaged in the following misconduct:

a.                   making a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge, adjudicatory officer or public legal officer, in violation of Rule 8.2 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

 

b.                  conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation, in violation of Rule 8.4(c) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

 

c.                   conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, in violation of Rule 8.4(d) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

 

d.                  presenting, participating in presenting, or threatening to present criminal charges to obtain an advantage in a civil matter, in violation of Rule 8.4(g) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct; and

 

e.                   conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute.

 

WHEREFORE, the Administrator requests that this matter be assigned to a panel of the Hearing Board, that a hearing be held, and that the panel make findings of fact, conclusions of fact and law, and a recommendation for such discipline as is warranted.

 


[1]  Referring to the transcript of the July 8, 2011 hearing in relation to Mary Sykes' probate matter, case number 09P4585.

 

Lea S. Black

Counsel for the Administrator

One Prudential Plaza

130 East Randolph Drive, Suite 1500

Chicago, Illinois  60601-6219

Telephone:  (312) 565-2600

Respectfully submitted,

Jerome Larkin, Administrator
Attorney Registration and
Disciplinary Commission

By:  Lea S. Black