See below, it says it all….
From: Judith Ditkowsky, private citizen
June 29, 2013
To the Judicial Inquiry Committee of the State of ILLINOIS
100 West Randolph Street
To Members of the Board:
This communication regarding a probate hearing held June 25, Room 1804 Daley Center, Chicago IL at 2 pm, Judge Jane Stuart presiding will be quite extensive, therefore I am beginning with a summary.
Matter: 09 P 4585 Mary Sykes
Parties present at the hearing: Guardians et al:
Plenary Guardian, Mrs. Carolyn Toerpe, daughter of Mrs. Mary Sykes
Attorney for Plenary Guardian: Peter Schmiedel
Guardians ad Litem: Cynthia Farenga, Adam Stern,
Attorney for or working with the guardians ad litem: Amanda Byrne, of Fischel and Kahn Ltd., Chicago, IL
Attorney for Chase Bank: (name unknown)
Claimant: Gloria Sykes, pro se
1) LACK of jurisdiction.
2) EX-PARTE proceedings
3) EGREGIOUS UNFAIRNESS.
4) WASTE LAID to the personal and real possessions of the “ward”
5) COMMINGLING OF FUNDS
6) Unfounded Allegations of misconduct against Ms. Gloria Sykes
7) Misuse of the police force of the city of Naperville
8) Promulgation of an order which is unconscionable, legally, morally or in justice.
I. LACK OF JURISDICTION
Ms. Gloria Sykes provided Judge Stuart and all the known other parties mentioned a motion on June 24, 2013, including exhibits of recently received information on the NON-EXISTENCE of jurisdictional notices including a possible window warrant on Mary Sykes at any point before she came under the custody of Mrs. C. Toerpe, or before any guardianship actions were undertaken. Even while in the custody of Mrs. Toerpe, after the fact, records do not exist in the office of Tom Dart, Sheriff of Cook County, showing an executed summons. A letter signed by Sheriff Dart, along with a copy of records attests to this fact. Without an executed summons, or executed window warrant, no jurisdiction ever existed over the person or property of Mrs. Mary Sykes. Without regard to this fact, which was added to other non-service of warrants on other persons required to be served – and denials by Ms. Gloria Sykes that her mother was ever served in any manner according to law, Judge Stuart proceeded with hearings which existed under color of law, but without authority.
To me it seems quite clear that Peter Schmiedel, who provided a copy of the so called summons which he stated would definitively show that jurisdiction in this case existed, has NEVER IN HIS LIFE done such a plebian thing as actually start a service, follow it through with the appropriate clerks and sheriff deputies, and ensure that all “i’s” were dotted and every “t” crossed.
First of all, there are special sections in the Statute governing the elderly and other wards of the State requiring a special service form to be used. The form which Mr. Schmiedel so proudly presented was a garden variety service form. The statutory form has something like eleven protections which are to appear in LARGE FONT BOLD PRINT: things like “you are entitled to a jury of six persons” , “you are entitled to an attorney of your choice”, etc. etc.
Apparently, an attorney who needs to provide service to a citizen must first pay a fee of $50.00 to a clerk. The clerk then stamps the form in two places. In one place, the financial details of the payment are provided. In another place, there are stamped blanks where the name of the person to be served is filled in. Interestingly, the last name appears in a different handwriting and a different thickness of pen than the first name and middle initial of Mrs. Mary Sykes name. There is also an illegible signature followed by a badge number, also, interestingly, in the same different nib size.
It is the next step which is crucial. This particular document is supposed to be something called a window warrant. Evidently the person at the Sheriff’s office takes the receipt to a different clerk OR officer. The warrant is then supposed to be handed to a sheriff’s deputy who hands it to the end recipient, stamps the receipt with a BATES NUMBER (so that it can be cross-referenced in the Sheriff’s Files), and signs, UNDER OATH, on the line provided, after the recipient has received his or her copy or on his or her copy. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, on his letterhead, with his signature, has provided a copy of all records pertaining to Mrs. Mary Sykes. They show the failed service known about by all prior to May 5, 2013, to the address of Mrs. Mary Sykes: it failed, because Mrs. Carolyn Toerpe had ALREADY removed the unwilling Mrs. Mary Sykes out of Cook County to her own house in Du Page County BEFORE ANY SERVICE AT ALL HAD BEEN ATTEMPTED.
It was not until May 5, 2013, that a friend of Ms. Gloria Sykes took it upon herself to go to the Office of the Sheriff of Cook County to look up the record, and found, to her surprise, that there was no record of window warrant service. Thereafter, another friend wrote to the Sheriff, requesting the history of all records, and it was a copy of the reply letter, received the week of June 17 which was delivered to all the known attorneys and to Judge Stewart on Monday June 24, 2013. This effort was ignored by Judge Stuart.
I am a lay person, a retired chemistry teacher. I have recently read Wolf Hall, and believe that even Henry VIII had some sort of sheriff’s service procedure. The Illinois Statute, which I have read, provides that the Sheriff shall serve a copy of the petition for guardianship, a summons or notice in bold face, as described above, AND service to ALL near relatives such as Mrs. Mary Sykes surviving two younger sisters, and to both daughters. The server has to acknowledge that he gave the proposed ward the summons, the appropriate warnings in the appropriate print, and a copy of the petition, in a sworn or certified return. Also missing was any indication that Mrs. Sykes near relatives had any notice or knowledge whatsoever prior to any hearing, particularly not the specified full fourteen days of notice.
The document provided by Mr. Schmiedel did not accord in any way with the requirements of the Statute. It is the first duty of a judge in ANY proceeding to determine that jurisdiction has been attained, and that determination is procedurally determined and not a matter of individual judgment, speculation or preference. I have seen a plethora of case law on the subject as well; this is not something arcane, mysterious or little known!!!
II. EX-PARTE PROCEEDINGS
Judge Stuart ignored the right of all parties to a hearing to be present at all consultations involving the litigants. In full view of the court, she denied Ms. Sykes, a pro se litigant, the right to be present at the bar while she spoke privately to the lawyers and plenary guardian listed above. This meets any definition of ex parte proceeding that I, a non-lawyer, have ever been able to find. While Ms. Sykes is barred from representing anyone else, she stands as her own lawyer in these proceedings ; she is a de facto lawyer for herself and has been unjustifiably excluded.
II. EGREGIOUS UNFAIRNESS
Four lawyers for the three guardians were present, plus one lawyer for the Chase Bank who was not expected to be present, therefore no preparation for
his appearance was possible. They, and the plenary guardian, Mrs. Carolyn Toerpe, were accorded every courtesy. HOWEVER, had a member of the bar been representing Ms. Gloria Sykes, he would have been peppering each of the attorneys with “Objection: foundation”, “Objection: relevance”, “Objection: hearsay” and various other objections which as terms of art summarize whole bodies of legal principles. Therefore, the pro se litigant is extended lenience to use common terms which sometimes need explanation. It was rare that Judge Stuart extended the courtesy even of stating “objection overruled” or “objection sustained” or “objection taken under consideration”. Instead she snapped, a la Judge Judy, “I did not call on you”; “Wait your turn”; or simply ignored Ms. Sykes’ protests as to the FACTUALITY of the allegations of the attorneys. She did put Mrs. Toerpe under oath at one point; however, Ms. Sykes was not allowed to question Mrs. Toerpe directly.
When, however, it was Mrs. Sykes turn to speak, after at least an hour of unhindered testimony by the four attorneys and the plenary guardian, possibly much more, Judge Stuart gave her a few unhindered minutes, then started directly questioning Peter Schmiedel and others, and eventually ordered Ms. Sykes to sit down before she had had any chance to make her full case.
Personal Property: Personal property is generally of less value than real property. Nevertheless, the duties of the Plenary Guardian include most particularly preserving the financial value of personal property and preserving the emotional health of the ward. In order to preserve the financial value of personal property, particularly in the event of a sale, that property must be kept under proper conditions, must be appraised by a certified appraiser, an inventory must be kept, and a record kept of any proceeds of any sales. Mrs. Mary Sykes was the recipient of a police widow’s pension, was covered by a Blue Cross Blue Shield policy, and while living independently was able to cover her needs without recourse to selling her personal property. I am not aware of the particulars of her financial situation, but I do know that she lived the life of a typical far northwest side of Chicago matron in one of the city’s most prosperous neighborhoods, actively participating in her garden club, local politics (particularly involving public or semi-public gardens in the area), and her church. All of these activities involve luncheons, and other luxuries, including the yearly replenishment of her own gardens and the hiring of gardening personnel. In no way can it be believed that she lived, on her own, a life of poverty. Since all of her sources of income were still available to her, and her share of the household electricity and gas was less than one third to one fourth of the household expenses (she was presumably not cooking independent of the family or consuming single serving prepared foods) and she was not given the freedom to use her drivers’ license, so she was not using gasoline, or shopping for clothes for luncheons, or paying extra for charity luncheons, it is not clear why living in her daughter’s house consumed her income so severely that it was necessary for her personal property to be sold at all. Under oath, Mrs. Toerpe testified that she moved Mrs. Mary Sykes furniture first to a storage facility (the first month is usually free or one dollar), and then she moved the furniture to her personal garage, from which it was necessary to have a garage sale, in full view, no doubt, of this Mother she so “treasured”. One can only guess at the emotional impact on Mrs. Mary Sykes of seeing her antique furniture, upholstered in silk and covered with plastic probably for forty or fifty years, and her Waterford Glass, dumped into a garage and then out onto the driveway, for a garage sale… the leftovers, as Mrs. Toerpe testified, donated to her Mother’s ’favorite charity’, Goodwill and the Salvation Army. If this furniture bazaar was necessitated by the sale of the house (which will be covered next), it is typical in a neighborhood like Norwood Park for a House or Estate Sale to be held. This would at least have spared Mrs. Sykes the emotional agony and pitiful sight of seeing her belongings treated so cavalierly!!!!
The purpose of the Guardians ad Litem is to protect the interest of the ward against the possible conflict of interest between the plenary guardian and the ward, but it was Ms. Gloria Sykes who provided the description of the silk upholstered furniture and the Waterford crystal, and who would have detailed the collectibles etc. so disdained by Mrs. Toerpe had her time allotment been fairly treated. (The printed information about the personal property was given to Ms. Sykes by the Judge, who allotted her seven minutes to decide what to do with it!) Ms. Gloria Sykes had properly serviced the four attorneys, the judge, and the plenary guardian with information and had receipts showing that the documents she had prepared had been delivered; nevertheless, the abovementioned people had not bothered to look at their deliveries and were handed extra copies and as much time as they cared to take to deal with this material at the start of the hearing. Frankly, it is I, a North Side “matron” who have provided the description of the way of life of my neighbors in a nearby area , even those twenty years older than myself!
REAL PROPERTY: the plenary guardian in seeking this job represented that she would protect the real property of her ward. Yet, under oath, she testified that she produced twelve months or more of checks at a time and never bothered to consult the invoices the bank sent for the mortgage on the house. Predictably, with checks sent which were much smaller than the cost of the mortgage for months on end, and with the Plenary Guardian ignoring any communications from the bank, the house ended up in foreclosure. Although Mrs. Toerpe under oath claimed that she took action to take the house out of bankruptcy, Ms. Sykes, before she was forcibly silenced by Judge Stuart claimed that in fact she had taken said action. In any case, due to Mrs. Toerpe’s dereliction of duty, Bank of America foreclosed on the house, and Mrs. Toerpe detailed the fines, penalties and increased interest she was forced to pay to redeem the house. Mrs. Toerpe did NOT detail the costs of the attorneys, hearings, filing fees and the like which she also must have entailed by her heedless and irresponsible behavior. The Guardians ad Litem took NO AFFIRMATIVE ACTION to forestall this wasteful and deleterious behavior. There was controversy, again, upon the conflicting allegations of the sisters, as to who paid for the ADT security system and even where its control box was located, and which floors were protected!
Judge Stuart’s reaction was gently to admonish the Guardians ad litem “going forward” to speak to their client and encourage her to do her fiduciary duty. She, above all, had the obligation to see that the Guardians ad Litem performed their civic obligations in their appointed positions before the waste of property had occurred, since she clearly acts as if she in fact had and has jurisdiction over the person of Mrs. Mary Sykes. I am horrified at her callous indifference to the duty of the plenary guardians, the guardians ad litem, and her own sworn duties to uphold the Law of the State of Illinois as it refers to the real and personal property of a so-called “ward of the state”.
V. COMMINGLING OF FUNDS
Once the home and its contents had been disposed of under fire sale conditions, Mrs. Toerpe testified freely under oath that it was time for her to reimburse herself for the costs she had entailed, paying them “out of her pension” (at 2.2% x number of years worked x the average of her last four years of service, probably under pension enhancement of 5%/year for four years, and at a twelve month salary as a counselor in a district where thirty years ago ordinary ten month teachers made over $100,000 yearly, one can hardly imagine that this crimped her lifestyle, especially if she was paid as a Ph.D.)
Judge Stuart told her that she had commingled funds, since she had paid herself without a court order, and should never do such a bad thing again, and counseled the Guardians ad Litem that “going forward” they should explain this to their backward client. (All assets have been dissipated; ‘going forward’ is meaningless.) Why was this alone not enough to terminate her guardianship, if not to bring criminal charges is enough of a mystery to me to have caused me to spend hours writing this communication to you. Where was the protection the Guardians ad Litem were supposed to be providing their ward? They are attorneys expected to know the law of the land. I believe that their malpractice is also actionable.
VI. Unfounded Allegations of misconduct against Ms. Gloria Sykes
De Novo, the guardians ad litem introduced the actions of Ms. Gloria Sykes in, having determined the location of her mother’s new domicile on the hunch that her mother’s presence in her sisters’ home would no longer be necessary since she no longer possessed any tangible assets of monetary value, and therefore would be removed to a nursing home where she might soon die. Unfortunately for them, there is a statute ensuring that persons living in sheltered care facilities may not be isolated from family or friends. Ms. Sykes determined that her mother, Mrs. Mary Sykes, was living at the Sunrise Center, called the center in advance, and spoke with the nurse who told Mrs. Mary Sykes that her daughter was calling. Mrs. Mary Sykes first determined, by asking the nurse, that it was Ms. Gloria Sykes who was calling. She does have hearing aids but was unable to hear Ms. Sykes voice over the phone, but she was heard telling the nurse to tell Ms. Gloria Sykes to come to Sunrise Center immediately. Ms. Sykes decided to bring two friends with her; I was not invited. I heard from Ms. Sykes before the visit and from one of the friends and Ms. Sykes immediately after the visit.
It has been my experience, visiting friends at rehab centers after hip surgery, and also at the Alden Home in Lakeview and at Self Help (also in Lakeview) visiting a sick colleague for whom I had been informally named a Patient Advocate, that often ID is required and that sign in is always required. These patients were in full control of their own persons and property. Therefore I am certain that Ms. Gloria Sykes and friends were required to sign into the Sunrise Center. Their report was that Mrs. Mary Sykes immediately recognized her daughter Ms. Gloria Sykes, and clung to her with hugs and kisses. The short visit was extended to forty-five minutes to an hour, depending on the reporter (including Mr. Stern), because Mrs. Mary Sykes would not relinquish her daughter. When Mrs. Carolyn Toerpe arrived on the scene, Mrs. Mary Sykes is reported to have said, “Good. Now I have my two daughters together. There are some things we have to discuss.” At that point, Mrs. Carolyn Toerpe lunged at her younger sister, but was prevented from a full blown battery by the intervention of the male friend who had accompanied Ms. Gloria Sykes. Ms. Sykes was able to escape injury. Then Mrs. Carolyn Toerpe is reported to have grabbed her mother forcibly by the arm and dragged to a room which she then locked. By any measure, this is elder abuse, assault and battery. As she was being dragged away, I was told that Mrs. Mary Sykes asked Mrs. Carolyn Toerpe when she would next see her younger daughter Gloria. Mrs. Toerpe’s answer is reported to have been “Never”.
In some manner, Mr. Stern became aware of the presence of Ms. Gloria Sykes and her friends at the Sunrise center and is said to have falsely reported that Ms. Gloria Sykes had caused a commotion. I have been told that Mr. Stern was not even on the premises when this call was made. HOWEVER, other persons were on the premises. There is a record of the arrival of Ms. Gloria Sykes and her friends and of Mrs. Carolyn Toerpe in their own handwriting with a time listed in any sheltered care facility. This personal knowledge on my part is necessary to detail the extreme horror of what ensued in the Courtroom of Judge Jane Stuart.
Mr. Stern told his version of the story. Ms. Sykes had been ordered to sit down next to me, and the bailiff had been enlisted, although at most she had given Ms. Sykes a gentle touch on the shoulder. Ms. Gloria Sykes tried, from the pew on which we were sitting, to protest and object to the factuality of the fable Mr. Stern had concocted. This gave Judge Stuart an opportunity to show what a humane and justice upholding individual she was, while she castigated Ms. Gloria Sykes, without ever asking Ms. Sykes for her version of the story . The transcript will show the exact words Judge Stuart used. Any judicial temperament would have required that Ms. Sykes be treated as innocent until proven guilty. Mr. Stern used the action taken by the police at his behest to “prove” the bad actions of Ms. Gloria Sykes, but in fact, after one half hour, the police released Ms. Sykes and her friends from their custody, as there was no court order, as had been alleged by Mr. Stern, and no reason for their detention.
VII. Promulgation of an invalid and outrageous order
Mr. Stern, as a Guardian ad Litem is an Officer of the Court and he misused his position to mislead Judge Stuart and to make statements that were not provable, in light of the fact that he was not even on site to determine for himself what had occurred. Had Judge Stuart performed her judicial office, making inquiry of Ms. Sykes and the two friends who were actually present and available to testify in the court room at that time, she would have easily determined that at the very minimum, there were contested versions of the activity which occurred once Mrs. Carolyn Toerpe appeared on the scene. Judge Stuart then entered an order which is patently improper, as it bars all visitors from taking pictures, limiting the subjects visitors can talk about when visiting Mrs. Sykes (as a mother, I would know intuitively if my adult children were choosing their words in order to avoid certain subjects and this would trouble me deeply) and visiting Mrs. Mary Sykes without the written permission of Carolyn Toerpe, on the basis of the unverified and unwitnessed accusations of Mr. Stern. In fact, on Monday, June 24, 2013, I have been told, the two elderly sisters (in their mid eighties) had left the north side of Chicago to visit their beloved sister in Naperville, and had been barred from this visitation upon arrival. (This is a distance of at least thirty miles, possibly more). The order entered is, to my lay eyes, a travesty and worthy of the removal of the judge from the bench. I have attached a copy of the order to this letter and request you to compare it with the applicable statutes prohibiting isolation of seniors. In this case, TWO SENIORS, not just one, were isolated from contact with their third nearest relative, also a senior, making a total of three isolations.
In addition, the order that was discussed in the hearing is not identical to the four pages of the order entered by the court. The obnoxiousness of the provision that emposers the defective plenary guardian is highlighted by the following. Mrs. Carolyn Toerpe was reported to have committed actual physical and emotional (verbal) abuse to the ward, Mrs. Mary Sykes, as reported on June 23,2013 in the late afternoon/early evening in the presence of three known witnesses. Mrs. Sykes had been ordered from the bench and was sitting next to me, yelling out her protests while Mr. Stern was making these false accusations. The order states
“Visitation with Mary G. Sykes is subject to the prior written approval of the guardian Carolyn Toerpe. This visitation order supercedes all prior supervision orders.”
This delegates the judicial function to Mrs. Troepe with regard to ALL visitation, effectively isolating Mrs. Sykes emotionally and in all other aspects from the world in derogation of statute and case law, basic human rights, the Constitutions of the United States and Illinois. In addition on June 25, the date of the order, sworn evidence was taken of Mrs. Carolyn Toerpe that she subjected her mother to the unnecessary emotional abuse of a garage sale of her coveted personal property in her presence (Mrs. Mary Sykes lived in the Toerpe house). Additionally Judge Stuart stated that Mrs. Carolyn Toerpe commingled funds. She promulgated the most draconian of the orders on the basis of an unverified and uninvestigated statement by an party who was appointed to be the Guardian of Mrs. Mary Sykes’ interests as opposed to the interest of the Plenary Guardian, without investigation. The order was issued ON THE DAY that said Guardian ad Litem had by commission and omission been shown to have failed utterly in that task. For example, the unnecessary bankruptcy proceeding took place because Mr. Stern did not properly supervise the amateurish efforts of the plenary guardian, who claims to be a Ph.D, in paying the bills.
VIII. Misuse of the Naperville Police Force
The City of Naperville maintains its police department to enforce its laws and to maintain order. The police force was summoned by a non-witness to harass innocent people, legally making a peaceful visit to their relative and dear friend.
The miscreants were misidentified by Mr. Stern, an attorney sworn to the bar to uphold the law of the State and the Land. In not censuring Mr. Stern for his misuse of public facilities, as a result of her failure to make even the slightest investigation of the actual situation, Judge Stuart, is not, in my sincere conviction, a conscientious jurist. Instead, I believe that the behavior that I personally witnessed on June 25, from 2 pm until at least 4 pm, possibly later, was an example of Judicial
Impropriety writ large.
The patent impropriety of the enclosed order speaks for itself. It is a delegation of the functions of the Court in guardianship proceedings, to a Plenary Guardian who, in these very proceedings has been accused through the word “commingling” by the Judge, of serious and actionable misconduct, and abandonment of her fiduciary responsibility by her own testimony. The first order of an American Court is to provide equality through the administration of justice which is blind as to persons. The blindness in this case is to the misfeasance, malfeasance, and provability of facts — including not only the actions and inactions of the two guardians ad Litem and the plenary guardian, and the attorney for Mrs. Toerpe, who cannot even recognize a defective document in time to avoid sending a copy of it to a person who does recognize its lack of value, but also the judge, who, in not immediately ascertaining the lack of jurisdiction she and her predecessor in this case have had to take control of the life of Mrs. Mary Sykes, a feisty woman who at 94 ½ still recognizes both her daughters, greets them appropriately, and can form a plan as to her own future, has caused immeasurable suffering to Mrs. Sykes, Mrs. Sykes’ sisters, and Mrs. Sykes younger daughter, continued this travesty of justice. The order of June 25, 2013, attached, all by itself, are an indictment of the Judge and the appointees in this case.
I therefore sincerely request that the Judicial Inquiry Board make inquiry into the actions, inactions where actions are required by Statute, jurisdiction to destroy the quality of life and the personal and real property of a capable senior, judicial temperament, and judicial actions taken by the Officers of the Court, including especially Judge Stuart, but also the two guardians ad Litem, the attorney for the Plenary Guardian, and the Plenary Guardian herself. Transcripts of the June 25 hearing I witnessed may be available as I write, through some sort of twenty-first century imaging system. I’m sure I don’t have to detail all the resources the Judicial
Inquiry Committee has available to determine the incredible behaviors of persons who should be above reproach on only this one day of nearly four years of litigation.
The examples will multiply exponentially if even a few more hearing dates are investigated, according to what I have been told. I am confident that justice will eventually be obtained for Mrs. Mary Sykes, her younger sisters (elderly seniors also abused by these proceedings, as they have been denied the solace, companionship and comfort of the older sister who essentially raised them,) and her younger daughter, Ms. Gloria Sykes. Judge Stuart has abdicated her responsibility to apply even handed blind justice and has become a fifth advocate for Mrs. Carolyn Toerpe. On the basis of the actions I personally saw, the documents I have personally seen, and the lack of investigation of brutally untrue allegations falsely made by an officer of the court under her supervision, I believe Judge Jane Stuart to be unfit for the bench. I recommend that she be removed, certainly from this case, and quite possibly from other not yet reported cases in which she may have made similar transgressions.
Private citizen and court attendee/observer June 25, 2013, 2 pm