Appeal of the Disqualification of JoAnne Denison

Dear Readers;

As you know, last Thursday, the Probate Court DENIED Gloria’s Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction (Sodini) on the grounds it had been brought up numerous times before and denied.  PS argued the appeals court denied it–which is not true and I the order denying it was published on a post, but I will put it on the blog.

At this juncture, Gloria CAN appeal my Disqualification a couple of years ago.  These motions can be appealed at the time they happen, according to Ill. Sup. Ct. Rule 306 (7) or they can be filed when a motion which can dismiss all grounds or claims is decided.  So this gives Gloria another chance to file the appeal if she wants.

In any case, here it is.  If it doesn’t help Gloria, perhaps it can help someone else.  Just do a search and change the names.


take care and have a great day.

In Re the Estate of
Mary G. Sykes,
An Alleged Disabled
A Petition under Sup. Ct. Rule 306(7) to
appeal Probate trial court case:
No.: 09 P 4585
To: See attached service list:
PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that on________________ 2012, we filed the following
documents in the above entitled cause, a copy of which is attahced hereto:
JoAnne M. Denison,
Attorneys for Petitioner, Denison &
Assocs, PC
Prepared By:
JoAnne M. Denison, Atty. No. 14,867
Denison & Associates, PC 1512 N
Fremont St, #202 Chicago, IL 60642
phone: 312-553-1300
fax: 312-553-1307
In Re the Estate of
Mary G. Sykes,
A Disabled Adult
Appellant, JoAnne M. Denison,
Disqualified counsel for Gloria Sykes,
Daughter of Mary G. Sykes
Appeal from the trial court in the case of:
No.: 09 P 4585
Now comes the Petitioner, JoAnne M. Denison, disqualified counsel for an
interested party, Gloria J. Sykes (“Gloria”), in the above captioned matter, wherein Ms.
Gloria Sykes, is the daughter of the above disabled adult and Ms. Denison herewith
Petitions this honorable appellate court to respectfully reverse the two trial court’s orders
dated 1) December 10, 2012 where the trial court judge ruled Ms. Denison could not file
an appearance on behalf of Gloria and 2) on August 16, 2012 this same trial court
(different judge) recently denied Ms. Sykes’ Motion to Dismss/Non suit on the grounds the
Trial Court lacked Jurisdiction (Soldini). The undersigned former counsel of record believes
that both the decisions were in error–that the trial court has acted without jurisdiction since
December 7th, 2012 when the Petitioner failed to serve 1) written notice; 2) to adult
siblings and children; 3) notifying them of the time, date and place of the hearing on the
Petition for Guardianship; 4) by mail or in person–all of which are strict jurisdictional
requirements under the seminal case of In re Soldini.
The trial court further rubber stamped the motions of the Guardian’s Ad Litem,
Attorney Stern and Attorney Farenga, when Ms. Denison was disqualified for only
notarizing one document for Mary G. Sykes (“Mary”)! She presented evidence to the trial
court she never represented Mary, she had sent Mary no bills, and had no time records of
representing her. Ms. Denison had, in the past only represented Gloria.
Simply notarizing a document is not, in and of itself, grounds to disqualify counsel.
Additional details for the grounds for this Petition are set forth below:
1. This appellate matter arises out of a Motion to Disqualify which was granted and
made final on December 10, 2009 against Attorney Denison and her firm, Denison
& Assocs, PC to appear in the above captioned proceeding in the Probate Court of
Cook County, First District. Exhibit A1, Order of December 7, 2009, attached
hereto. On December 10, 2009, this order was modified to add the words “final
and appealable.” Exhibit A2, hereto.
2. Ms. Gloria Sykes was a Counter Petitioner in the above captioned matter for
Guardianship of her mother, Mary G. Sykes. Exhibit B, Amended Cross Petition of
January 18, 2009, attached hereto.
3. On or about November 10, 2009, Ms. Gloria Sykes and Ms. Joanne Denison, a
licensed Illinois attorney, came to an agreement that Ms. Denison would represent
Ms. Gloria Sykes in the above matter because the matter had become hotly
contested and Ms. Gloria Sykes was experiencing difficulties with her then counsel
of record arguing and winning motions.
4. On or about November 12, 2009, Attorney Denison attempted to file her
appearance in the above captioned proceeding and Mr. Harvey Waller, Counsel for
the now Plenary Guardian, Carolyn Toerpe, elder daughter of Mary Sykes, together
with Guardian Ad Litems Attorneys Cynthia Farenga and Adam Stern, objected to
this appearance on the grounds that Attorney Denison had previously notarized a
document which Mary Sykes had signed.1 All of opposing counsel–Attorneys
Farenga, Stern and Waller claimed that Attorney Denison would need to be called
as a witness during a trial to determine apportionment of assets in prior filed
litigation between Gloria and Kemper Insurance which was settled in August 2008
and all the settlement documents were approved by the litigation judge at that time.
The transcript of November 12, 2009 is attached hereto as Exhibit C, see pages 4-
5. The Order of November 12, 2009 sets a briefing schedule of five days to file
Motions to Oppose Counsel and five days for Denison & Associates to respond.
Exhibit D, attached hereto.
1While Attys Waller, Schmeidel (they represent or did represent the Guardian) told the
court the Agreement notarized was a private agreement between the parties and a section 1401
motion was not required to set aside the Apportionment Agreement, this was in fact not true, but
the Agreement was reviewed by a Law Division judge and entered as an Order. It is not true
that the Apportionment Agreement was merely a private agreement–it was a Court Order and in
order to change that court order, a section 1401 proceeding had to be filed by either the GAL’s
or the Guardian within two (2) years from the date of the order–an action none of the attorneys
have taken in time. The Order was notarized, reviewed by the Law Division Judge, and then
entered in August 2008. Now two (2) years have passed and it is too late to contest the
contents of that Court Order.
6. On November 17, 2009, Attorney Denison filed a Preliminary Memorandum,
attached hereto as Exhibit E, pointing out 1) she never represented Ms. Mary Sykes;
2) her law firm records show that she never represented her and provided copies of
time sheets for the month in question and computer records; 3) and an email
submitted to the court indicated that she never discussed apportionment with either
Mary or Gloria Sykes–she only discussed the amount of the settlement and the
attorneys fees with Gloria Sykes; 4) the notary clause only stated the signatory
appeared before the notary and was known to the notary and then signed the
document. The notary clause did not state whether the signatory was of sound
mind or competent, and no assessment was made at that time to any of those
issues. All of these facts indicate clearly that Attorney Denison would not need to
be called as a witness at trial. Attorney Denison voluntarily provided this informal
discovery to all opposing counsel well in advance of the hearing on the merits.
7. On November 19, 2009, Attorney Stern filed a Motion to Disqualify Attorney
Denison. Exhibit F, attached hereto. Attorney Denison submits that such a motion
was frivolous in nature and only calculated to prevent Gloria Sykes from using an
attorney she knew would be vigorous and vigilant in defending her and representing
her interests.
8. On December 7, 2009 date a hearing was set and the Motion to Disqualify was
argued. A transcript of the argument is attached hereto as Exhibit G. During this
argument, opposing counsel argued a series of “what if” scenarios and the circuit
court then granted opposing counsel’s Motion to Disqualify her. Exhibit G, pgs. 12-
15. The court found that it would need to hold an evidentiary hearing on the issue
and Attorney Denison asked for an evidentiary hearing to be held instanter. The
court indicated this would be possible at the next available hearing date.
Immediately subsequent to this hearing, Attorney Farenga, when drafting the order,
said that she wanted two (2) months to seek discovery of all the issues, then a status
date would need to be held, and only after that an evidentiary hearing could be
held–meaning Gloria would be denied counsel of her choice for months and
months–long after a plenary Guardian was appointed for Mary.
9. Such a request is further evidence that the Motion to Disqualify Counsel was
primarily a means to deny Gloria Sykes counsel of her choice who would defend her
case vigorously. While Attorney Denison first requested to file an Appearance on
November 12, 2009, no discovery was served by any opposing counsel, despite the
fact the hearing was held nearly one month later on December 7, 2009. On
December 10, 2009, Attorney Denison informed the court to what had happened
with GAL Farenga and requested that she wanted to appeal and to make on that
date, the decision of the court full and final and subject to appeal. Transcript of
December 10, 2009, Exhibit H, hereto.
10. On December 24, 2009, Attorney Denison submitted a Motion for Reconsideration
attached hereto as Exhibit I. That Motion was either not argued or only partially
argued and then the court ruled that the Motion could not be filed. Exhibit J,
Transcript of December 29, 2009 Hearing, attached hereto, pages 1-13.
11. Two years have passed since Ms. Denison was initially refused representation of
Gloria. When Ms. Denison attempted to file a Petition for Appeal, Gloria
prevaricated on whether she wanted to appeal. The deadline passed and counsel
waited for a decision which never came. It became apparent that Attys Stern,
Farenga and Waller, by agreeing to file and prosecute a Motion to Disqualify Ms.
Denison, had seriously damaged that attorney client privilege, with the client
repeatedly claiming both publicly and in private that Ms. Denison had been
(rightrully) disqualified, not understanding what Ms. Denison and other attys were
telling her about the situation–name, it is an improper and frivilous disqualification
for merely notarizing a docment.
12. A major grounds for the disqualification, that Ms. Denison might be called as a
witness, has never happened. A hearing scheduled to invalidate the apportionment
agreement–the basis of the disqualification, began on July 13, 2012, was continued
to August 16, 2012 and Ms. Denison has not appeared on any of the witness lists.
13. However on August 16, 2012, Ms. Denison was finally able to convince Gloria to
file a Motion to Dismiss/Nonsuit based upon the Sodini case. After becoming
involved in the case and helping Gloria once again as much as Ms. Denison could,
Ms. Denison strongly encourage Gloria to file a Motion to Dismiss/NonSuit based
upon lack of Jurisdiction (Soldini). Another attorney, Mr. Ken Ditkowsky discovered
this case and further, that no written notice of the original hearing date of
December 7, 2009 had ever been served on the adult siblings and children of Mary.
Declarations signed by Gloria and Mary’s adult sister, Yolanda, are attached hereto.
This clearly violates the holding in In Re Sodini that service of these written notices
by the Petitioner are jurisdictional in character.
14. The order denying jurisdiction is further attached hereto as Exhibit A3. It should be
noted by this trial court that on the day this Order was entered, Gloria initialed and
approved it in one version. Later it is obvious that Atty Stern crossed out some
verbiage and changed it after approval. That altered order, which was not
approved by Gloria, is
WHEREFORE, Attorney Denison believes that there was absolutely no grounds for
her disqualification other than opposing counsel filing a frivolous motion and arguing it,
and she earnestly requests that this honorable court of appeals GRANT the instant Petition
to Appeal her December 7, 2009 Order disqualifying her on the grounds the trial court lost
all jurisdiction on that date–and jurisdiction is vitally important to a case it may be brought
up at any time. Ms. Denison desires a court order to represent any Sykes family member
without interference from the trial court. It was not known in December of 2009 that
proper Sodini notices had not been served upon the close relatives.
Respectfully, even if the undersigned attorney’s appeal or Petition is denied for any
reason, she is respectfully requesting that the ARDC be directed to investigate the entire
matter, including the actions of Attorneys Stern, Farenga, Schmeidel and Waller for an
appropriate resolution of the question, just how does a Probate trial court with not one, but
TWO Guardian’s ad Litem continue on a case clearly lacking jurisdiction for over 31
JoAnne M. Denison
Attorney for Petitioner, Gloria Sykes
Prepared By:
JoAnne M. Denison, Atty. No. 14,867
Denison & Associates, PC
1512 N Fremont St, #202
Chicago, IL 60642
phone: 312-553-1300
fax: 312-553-1307
I hereby certify that the foregoing Petition to Appeal of the Disqualification of
JoAnne M. Denison has been served by the method indicated below to the following
counsel that has filed an appearance in the above cause of action:
Mr. Peter Schmeidel
Fischel & Kahn
155 N. Wacker Drive
Suite 1950
Chicago, IL 60606 via email and USPS first class postage prepaid
Cynthia R. Farenga
1601 Sherman Ave., Suite 200
Evanston, IL 60201
Fax 847-866-8885 via email and USPS first class postage prepaid
Adam Stern
105 W. Adams St.
Chicago, IL 60603 via email and USPS first class postage prepaid
on this August 24, 2012
JoAnne M. Denison

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