An open letter to the ABA on removing supportive commentary on the article regarding the ARDC’s (flawed) decision

Dear ABA Journal Editors:

As someone who runs my own legal blog, I am extremely disappointed by your recent actions, which I believe represent unethical journalism in that you removed about 1/3 of the comments in support that my 3 year suspension by the Illinois ARDC was extremely suspect and wrongful.

Ninety five percent of the entire Sykes family and friends have come to my aide, and continues to come to my aide in supporting my assertions that I have told the truth on my blog, I continue to tell the truth on my blog, and it is the Ill. ARDC that continues to discipline those that report miscreant behavior and strings of felonies against the innocent elderly and their families via the guise of “probate court” and “guardianships” that turn out to be very far from protecting a elderly person–instead they victimize and abuse the elder.  The Ill. ARDC currently prosecutes the journalist lawyer, and not the perpetrators of these grave and serious crimes against our nation’s elders.

The truth in probate across the nation is ugly.  Elders are targeted by hospitals, nursing homes, visiting nurses – and even attorneys, for paid up homes and cars and wealthy elders and then they are railroaded into guardianships (Sykes, Bedin, Wyman, etc.) without jurisdiction, their homes and cars are sold, often at great discounts (in Sykes, the home was appraised for $700k and was sold a couple months later for $238k), and while the attorneys say in court “it’s for the care of the Ward”, often 90% of the fees (or more) go to the attorneys! (Wyman, Sykes, Stone, Martinez/Smith) These seniors are forcibly put into nursing homes where they are isolated (Sykes, Wyman, Stone, etc.) from 90% of former friends and family.  In an incredulous letter from Ms. Stone, a Rabbi was told he could not visit because the daughter asked him to!  I’m not sure if that’s guilt by association or collective punishment, but it’s all wrong and another form of elder abuse.

So many, many victims of this abusive system have come to read and support my blog, that in a very short period of time, I have garnered 70,000 views and the discussions are lively and timely.

I do NOT remove comments from my blogs unless they are spam.  I publish both sides.  And I have to tell you 99% of the feed back is positive of my blog and very supportive.

I would like to remind you of the rules of ethics for journalists:

“Seek Truth and Report It

Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.

Journalists should:

    – Take responsibility for the accuracy of their work. Verify information before releasing it. Use original sources whenever possible.

    – Remember that neither speed nor format excuses inaccuracy.

    – Provide context. Take special care not to misrepresent or oversimplify in promoting, previewing or summarizing a story.

    – Gather, update and correct information throughout the life of a news story.

    – Be cautious when making promises, but keep the promises they make.

    – Identify sources clearly. The public is entitled to as much information as possible to judge the reliability and motivations of sources.

    – Consider sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Reserve anonymity for sources who may face danger, retribution or other harm, and have information that cannot be obtained elsewhere. Explain why anonymity was granted.

    – Diligently seek subjects of news coverage to allow them to respond to criticism or allegations of wrongdoing.

    – Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information unless traditional, open methods will not yield information vital to the public.

    – Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable. Give voice to the voiceless.

    – Support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.

    – Recognize a special obligation to serve as watchdogs over public affairs and government. Seek to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in the open, and that public records are open to all.

    – Provide access to source material when it is relevant and appropriate.

    – Boldly tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience. Seek sources whose voices we seldom hear.

    – Avoid stereotyping. Journalists should examine the ways their values and experiences may shape their reporting.

    – Label advocacy and commentary.

    – Never deliberately distort facts or context, including visual information. Clearly label illustrations and re-enactments.

    – Never plagiarize. Always attribute.

From the Society of Professionals Journalists,

I do not believe that you have followed some of the above rules, and your removal of comments with facts clearly in support of what I have been doing violates those ethics.  It presents a one sided commentary and reaction to your story.

 In addition, your own “rules of commentary” state as follows

“But there are also limits to that debate. Don’t use profanity or resort to name-calling, threats or personal attacks. Don’t spam the site with advertising. And don’t masquerade as someone you’re not. We reserve the right to delete comments that are inappropriate and block users who consistently violate our policies.

By posting a comment on this site, you are agreeing to follow the ABA’s Code of Conduct and allow the ABA Journal to reprint your comment in all forms of media at any time.

If you believe a commenter has violated our rules or if you spot an error in a post, please let us know.”

By removing the comments, it appears that the posters (who support my cause) have engaged in name-calling, threats or personal attacks, or have spammed the site or they are someone they are not.

I have never removed a comment from my blog.  I might respond with my own commentary, but my blog is open and honest and transparent.  I published the facts.

You published an article without even a scintilla of research from other lawyers involved, the family and friends of Mary Sykes, and you didn’t even look at the pleadings and the record on appeal with respect to Mary’s case.  It’s right on my blog.  In addition, you didn’t even review the court file or records. You just published what the ARDC did and you did no investigation of the fact yourself, even though they are all on the blog.

You should read the briefs and the pleadings that Ken Ditkowsky and I have filed in numerous cases against the miscreants.

You will then find that the Sykes case 09 P 4585 was a sham, Mary’s home appraised in one month for $700k and then was sold a couple months later for $238k because “it was for the care of Mary” but the attorneys involve have asked for and obtained at least $150k in attorneys fees, if not more.  The younger daughter, Gloria, held a valid POA for health care that was summarily invalidated by the court without notice or hearings, or any findings–in derogation of Illinois law, and there is no evidence of service upon Mary Sykes, either in the court file or the Sheriff’s department.  In fact, Sheriff Dart even wrote Ken Ditkowsky a letter that no evidence of service can be found!

The entire case is just about the nadir of the legal profession, and then the ABA goes and abuses the Sykes family all over again by removing positive commentary from the public, friends and family of Mary Sykes that the case contained dozens of procedure defects rubber stamped by judges (Conners and Stuart).  Stuart suddenly retired after lying at my ARDC trial.  You want a good investigative story, here’s a few:

1) Ask Jerome Larkin why he and the attorneys do not Ethics Report yearly, even though this is required by the Illinois Ethics Act of 2009.  (NB – JL may claim the ARDC is not a state agency, but in the cases Mr. Ditkowsky and I filed against the ARDC they responded they have immunity as a state agency.  Go figure).

2) Ask JL why he has large mortgage payoffs on his home, Melissa Smart’s $250k condo was paid off and others at the ARDC have had their mortgages paid.  Ask them who is paying those large sums directly to the banks of the attorneys involved.

3) Ask JL why they do not report staff salaries at the ARDC as other state agencies all do.

4) Go and see the videos of Mary G Sykes at as see how Mary Sykes clearly displays high cognitive brain function during the months surrounding her guardianization, causing one Cook County Judge to proclaim to Gloria, “Oh, my goodness, this woman is clearly competent.”  He had been a probate judge for a long time and was familiar with who was competent and who was not.

5) Go and look at the “Table of Torts” on my blog, for more egregious errors and the railroading of Mary G Sykes, and when you are done with that, I have at least a dozen more cases.

And the public wants to know why and how this is happening.

Please put back the comments that “someone in power didn’t like” and show that you are not a corrupt organization.

I would also appreciate an apology for 1) making the comments one sided and 2) your reporter’s failure to conduct an appropriate investigation by reading the blog and the evidence presented on the blog.

If your reporters cannot or will not take the time to fairly, honestly and reasonably conduct an investigation, they should not be reporting on what the Illinois ARDC does.

My blog tells the truth and only the truth.  I publish all the records and all the pleadings, including the Record on Appeal for Sykes.

I would suggest you either withdraw the story, or conduct a proper investigation and tell the truth, starting with, who and why asked that you remove much of the commentary from your blog on Monday morning.  Was it someone from the Illinois ARDC?  Was it Jerome Larkin?

JoAnne Denison

1 thought on “An open letter to the ABA on removing supportive commentary on the article regarding the ARDC’s (flawed) decision

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