PRESS RELEASE from Gloria Sykes–Sykes v. Cook County Courts and Presiding Judge Timothy Evans and Probate Judge Aicha MacCarthy



CHICAGO ILLINOIS – October 27, 2014

Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan and other public entities failed to appear and answer in a discrimination lawsuit under the Americans With Disabilities Act.  Chicago residents Gloria Jean Sykes and her disabled mother Mary have filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against the Cook County Circuit Court; the Cook County Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Evans; the Cook County Circuit Court, Probate Division; Probate Judge Aicha MacCarthy; the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan; the State of Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn; and, Carolyn Toerpe of Naperville, Illinois.  Filed on September 25, 2014 in the U.S. District Court under Title II of the Americans’ With Disabilities Act, the defendants were due to appear and respond on or before October 20, 2014 – and to date herein, the defendant courts, judges and other Illinois public entities have failed to appear and respond.

Joined in the lawsuit by a disability rights advocate and colleague from Indiana, Sykes says she is “not surprised that the defendants have failed to appear and respond because what these defendant public entities have done to her disabled mother is simply indefensible.”  According to Sykes, her colleague and the lawsuit “each of the defendant public entities are/were uniquely capable of finding the applicable regulations technical
assistance, and case law and recognizing the substantial likelihood of violating the federally guaranteed and protected ADA rights of the Plaintiffs …” – after all, the defendants are courts, judges and other public entities who know, make and enforce the law which makes their failure to timey appear and respond to the lawsuit even more intriguing.

Under Title II of the Americans’ With Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12132 provides that, “… no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity” and according to Sykes, her colleague and the lawsuit, the Cook County Circuit Court and other defendant public entities have discriminated against Mary Sykes and her daughter Gloria since 2009 when Mary, a lifelong resident of Norwood Park and the widow of a career City of Chicago police officer who dedicated his entire professional life to public safety, was placed under the supervision and control of an adult probate guardianship by the Probate Division of the Cook County Circuit Court.

Adult guardianship is a subject of significant public importance deserving of far more public discussion than it has received over the years.  According to Sykes and her colleague “adult guardianship is a complex legal and social issue which is being used more frequently as our “boomer” population ages and succumbs to the frailties of life’s incapacities.”  In 1987 the U.S. Congress issued a report on adult guardianship and referred to the practice as a “national disgrace”1 because failures in the system are widespread and pervasive in every state across the country.  Between 2004 and 2011 the Government Accountability Office issued five different reports,2 none of which reflects much confidence in how guardianship is administered daily in courts all across the country, and one legal scholar writing about probate guardianship refers to a legal process “where the law of liquidation has taken precedence over the law of preservation.”3

Sykes, et al. v. Cook County Circuit Court, et al. (Case No.: 1:14-cv-07459) has been assigned to the Honorable Judge John J. Tharp, Jr. who, in a previous case involving Sykes and her mother, wrote “… as unappealing as it sounds applied to a living person, she [Mary] is the res of an in rem proceeding”4 which, according to the recent lawsuit is one of the discriminatory practices and disparate impacts of a probate adult guardianship because to be a “res” is to render the person under guardianship – referred to legally as being a ‘ward’ — to a status of being less than a second-class citizen, less than even human and in fact, as a matter of law — to be viewed as a “res” is to be viewed as being “a thing” and according to Sykes, “it is simply shocking to my conscious to witness my mother being treated like she is some sort of thing and less than human.”

Sykes is certainly not alone in her experience and she finds no solace in knowing that collectively hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens are under guardianship in most every state of the union.  Sykes, a 39- year veteran news magazine and documentary producer, reporter, and writer – mostly for NBC, and published author and national investigative reporter, she and her Indiana colleague and disability rights advocate, Tim Lahrman, are currently in production of a 60-minute film documentary on the subject of adult guardianship: the two attended the 43rd World Congress on Adult Guardianship held in Arlington VA this past May where the pair interviewed several law professors, former judges, professional guardians and international advocates from various foreign counties in attendance at the three day Congress. Sykes also attemded and videotaped John Marshall Law School’s Conference on Rights of Older Persons where she interviewed many international scholars and advocates.  Currently slated for release in the spring of 2015 Sykes says, “the documentary film is intended to be both educational, inspirational and likewise serve as the catalyst for a much needed public discussion about how and when a guardianship may well impact each and every one of us because, after all, it is simply inescapable that each and every one of us will grow old and perhaps be disabled someday.”

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan maintains a public website dedicated to her concerns for and responsibilities to Illinois’ elder population.  Found online at   AG Madigan readily recognizes that  “… protecting older citizens continues to be one of the most important responsibilities of the Attorney General’s office”.  Sykes says, “there is little doubt that AG Madigan is well aware of my mother’s case, I have called the hotline countless times, I have written numerous letters, sent hundreds and hundreds of emails, spent hours upon hours on the telephone, the court files are voluminous, two Chicago attorneys who have spoken out on behalf of my mother have been publically disciplined and professionally humiliated over my mother’s case, one probate judge recently, suddenly and quietly retired without notice, another judge is now facing judicial discipline proceedings, one of the appointed guardian ad litems has closed their office and cannot be located, and yet with all the hue and cry, not a word from Lisa Madigan, not a single effort to investigate and protect my mother – and now, in the face of a federal disability discrimination lawsuit, the AG and other Illinois public entities do not appear and respond to even defend themselves.”

For more information please contact:

Cited sources:

1.    U. S. Congress Select Committee on Aging – Subcommittee on Health             and Long-Term Care (Comm. Pub. No. 100-639) entitled “Abuses In             Guardianship Of The Elderly And Infirm: A National Disgrace” (found             online at: – last visited

2.    GAO publication #(s): 04-655; 06-1086t; 10-241; 10-1046; 11-678

3.    Henry’s Indiana Probate Law & Practice (Rel. 1 – 12/04 Pub. 62794)             Chapter 37 Guardianship § 37.01 “Theory of Guardianship”, p. 37-3 ¶ 2

4.    Memorandum Opinion and Order, dated August 6, 2012, (ND Ill) Case             No.: 1:11-cv-07934 – M.G.S. v. Toerpe, et al.

Other references and relevant recent media:

A:  Columbus Dispatch expose’

B:  The Tennessean expose’ by Walter Roche

C:         Rethinking Guardians (Again): Substituted Decision Making as of a Violation of the Integration Mandate of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act,

D.    Supportive Decision Making In Practice,

Other references and relevant recent media:

A:  Columbus Dispatch expose’,

B:  The Tennessean expose’ by Walter Roche,

C:    The National Association To Stop Guardianship Abuse chronicles articles
Regarding ADA discrimination violations and other abuses against the elderly and disabled.

D.    Who’s Overseeing The Overseers? Indiana Report on Adult Guardianship


5 thoughts on “PRESS RELEASE from Gloria Sykes–Sykes v. Cook County Courts and Presiding Judge Timothy Evans and Probate Judge Aicha MacCarthy

  1. i sympathize with Gloria Sykes , Tim Lohrman , her mom .
    They are fighting the most despicable segment of society, legal system and Judiciary .
    A co advocate asks ” what right does anyone including the courts have owning another person and treating them like animals for $360,000.yr.
    To paraphrase , I heard from an attorney that Gloria Sykes was chained to a chair by the guardians until she would give up her bank accounts and assets . The life experiences of the wards and families are shocking , disturbing and beyond Human Decency

    • Yes she was, and there were many witnesses she disappeared for a period of time, but Judge Stuart denied it at my ARDC trial and then changed her testimony on the stand! Yikes. I think that’s why Judge Stuart suddenly retired about 6 weeks later.
      A clear Abuse of Power

    • I have approved this comment because I believe in the first amendment. I have known the family since 2006 and have no idea what you are talking about. Mary’s income was $2,000 per month and Gloria supported the rest of her needs, made sure she had designed clothes and ate the best vegetarian food. I also personally know that Gloria took her mother everywhere and at the time Mary was involved in the Garden Club, a Card Club, and other neighborhood activities. She also took her on vacations. Gloria and her mother sometimes would fight and fuss at each other, but that’s not abuse. Families do that.
      Since Mary had no money other than her house, what money are you talking about? Mary went regularly to the beauty salon, her clothes were clean and neat and Gloria got her a dog she wanted: Hannah.
      Mary was competent and beat the pants off everyone at her card club in December 2009 the month she was guardianized. She clearly knew and loved Gloria. You should review her videos on Vimeo.
      Also, $1 million in valuable coins is missing. The ARDC and the Probate Court quashed simple discovery. Where is the tape showing who went into and out of the safe deposit box in April 2010 and emptied it but did not report it to the judge or the court. That’s clearly illegal. Carolyn signed that she had it drilled and she went to the safe deposit box. In 2005, Mary went to an attorney Haggerty who later refused to give her a copy of a Will and Trust she signed. What’s with that? Later she found that everything was to go to Carolyn, which she objected to on video and in letters. Her handwritten letters indicated that she considered Carolyn to be a long term trickster. I have not heard her say that about Gloria.
      Whatever you talking about is a new issue not revealed to anyone, including the court. You are welcome to elaborate on this blog. The question is, why did you not reveal your concerns to the court at the time it was relevant so they could be hashed out at that time. Also, why no name? I write something, I sign it. period.

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