Ken Ditkowsky writes of some interesting experiences….

You cannot make this stuff up.
As I have been looking back at my career and the past years the Jerome Larkin 18 USCA 371 conspiracy rates as the most bizarre.    I thought that when Victor Marzolo (sp – Chicago Alderman) was outraged that dead people had to be removed from the voter lists “JUST BECAUSE THEY DIED” rated number one.   His outrage that they lost their “franchise” because of death topped the cake.     Victor’s outrage was real!     It was however consistent with a visit from a very nice, well dressed elderly lady (almost 60 years old) who wandered into my office and tossed several thousand dollars in cash on my desk and requested that I hold it for her.
I inquired, and was treated to a ‘tale’ of horror.    She demurely informed me that she was afraid to be in her apartment.    “There were snakes coming out of the Wall!”     She invited me to have look.   Having a history in the “mortgage business” at Jackson Realty I dropped everything and told my secretary that I was going out for a while.   I took my elderly client’s hand (I must have been all of 25 years old) and off we went to her apartment.     Indeed, I was disappointed that the apartment was modest, clean, and totally devoid of snakes.    My new client informed me that they only showed up at night.    (There were no signs of alcohol usage).
Clutching her money in my hand I led her over to the Vice President Al Greenough of the Devon Bank.   With great flourish and circumstance Al opened a savings account and promised her that at any time she wanted her money, she just had to see him and she could as much or all of it.     To my delight, he promised to stop in on the days that he worked late and make sure that she was safe.    Jack Pahl, the State Farm Agent, who happened to be at the Bank pointed out that his office was in the same building and he could be called if she felt unsafe.     I retired to my office a little worried that my little lady had the DT’s and my friends had bit off more than any of us could chew.
I was 100% correct.    An hour later, I got a frantic telephone call from Al Greenough.    My client was at the Bank and accusing him of stealing her money and demanded it back.    It seems that she had written down the serial numbers and the cash he gave her did not have the same serial numbers!     I went to the bank and explained to her that all cash was fungible and the United States of America guaranteed her deposit.  She need not worry about it – it was safe.   She redeposited the cash and I went back to the office.   Greenough said nothing; however, he was not pleased with me.
About Supper time, Jack called – Evelyn (his secretary) was frantic.    It seems our lady had come to their office totally frantic – the snakes were coming out of her walls.    She did not smell of alcohol and still looked quite presentable, except for the total panic she exhibited.       Police officer Charlie Smith and I walked over to Jack’s office and Charlie took charge.     A female officer also came by, and took our lady to a shelter over at St. Francis Hospital.     We looked at the interior of the apartment and saw no snakes.     The next day the female officer arranged for my little old lady to move to another apartment.    She lived in that apartment quietly and saw no snakes.    She took a liking to Greenough and every other day for several months appeared at his desk to deposit a thousand or so dollars in cash.     Her deposits totaled more than a $100,000.00.
Mr. Jerome Larkin however topped the insanity scale when he pointed out to Coopers that the prospecting for gold in the mouth of elderly grandmother Alice Gore was in the best traditions of the bar and refused to even do an HONEST INVESTIGATION of the guardian ad litem who orchestrated the transaction and never inventoried any of the gold harvested!     Lawyering in Cook County, Illinois is highly unusual.
Young lawyers crave experience and going to Court is almost an addiction.      Jack Pahl volunteered me to assist in some of the legal problems of the Juvenile Protective League.    He pointed out to me that parens patrie cases would allow me to gain experience and at the same time feel good about myself.    He was wrong – I felt terrible most of the time.   Frustration racked me.     Some of the characters I ran into were despicable but had beautiful helpless children who were being abused and exploited.     If ever I felt an urge to take the law into my own hands, it was then.
One of the most horrible parent imposters I ran across were the Bannings.    They were absolutely the worst excuse for human beings I ever encountered.
A social worker told me about the family and how she had arranged for Mr. and Mrs. Banning to sign adoption consents for two of the children of the Bannings.    All she had to do was to convince me to defend Mr. Banning on a burglary charge in the criminal court — and get him off.    The problem of Banning being guilty was a technicality she promised I would solve.    She reasoned that my vast experience of about a year of law practice it was almost a cinch that my vast experience would carry the day.     When she showed me the conditions that the children were enduring I agreed to defend Banning.    However, I wanted the consents to be signed in front of the County Court Judge who handled adoptions prior to my stepping foot into the Criminal Courtroom.     Such was done.
I next appeared in the Criminal Court building with Mr. Banning and we pleaded not guilty.   The judge set a trial and as I need more time to prepare.   (I had never tried a criminal case before) I therefore asked for jury.    Maybe I could convince a jury that Mr. Banning was in the complaining witness’ apartment for some reason other than rob her.
A criminal case is unique.    The State makes an allegation (a charge) and then has to prove by evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that each element of the crime was committed.    The State had to prove that Mr. Banning had broken into the apartment with intention of stealing something.     (That was what the grand jury charge stated).       I looked at the State’s disclosures and they made little sense to me.   It appeared that the apartment was totally empty of any possession and/or anything of value.   Exactly why Banning had broken was a mystery to me.
A jury was empaneled – 12 strong, and the trial began.    The States Attorney reiterated the charges putting some meat on the bones of the complaint and sat down.   I reserved my opening to my case in chief.    My defense was the fact that Banning had been overcharged and I was not going to make an issue of it as I did not want an amendment to the complaint and I want jeopardy to attach.   (It does not attach until the first witness is in the box and sworn).
The first witness was a young lady who claimed that she was the resident of the apartment that Banning had broken into.   She saw him in the apartment, and called the police who arrested Banning in the apartment.      On cross examination, I asked the witness if there was anything of value in the Apartment and she said no.     The Element “intent to commit a felony therein” was thus going to be very hard to prove and again I did not want to tip my hand – two children depended on me winning.     When the State rested, I presented a written motion for an acquittal.     The judge gave me a look as if I had just committed heresy and I launched into my argument that INTENT to commit a felony therein had not been proven by even a scintilla of evidence.
The Judge thought for a moment, and said “case dismissed!”    I literally ran out of the Courtroom, hopped in my car and raced to the County Building and the Courtroom.    I handed the Judge the decree of adoption, he signed it and I took it to the County Clerk’s office to be processed.    Thereafter I notified the social worker and the children’s adoptive parents.
I was so proud of myself and so happy I did not need the car to get home.    I had finally accomplished something useful and did something I could be proud of.   Two children were going to have home in which they were loved.
The next morning, I got the shock of my life.    The Bannings had three children – not two.    Little Donny was still with his parents and was a ‘beaten child.’       The children’s grandparents (Mrs. Banning’s mother and father) were in my office crying over the plight of little Donny.     Several neighbors of the Bannings were with them and they were not shy in relating the mistreatment and neglect.    My social worker at the Juvenile Protective League was also in tears.    She had known about Donny but she was so busy that her focus was directly only on the two children whose problem she could solve.    No one had mentioned the adoption of three children.
“No problem “ is my usual oral response when things are deemed by me to actually be impossible.     I called the adoptive parents and asked them if they were interested in a third child.    They said they would do anything for me; however, they really could not afford a third child or moving to a larger apartment.   If I could work out something different they would appreciate it.
I turned to the grandparents.     They brightened up and asked if it was possible.    Of course, I lied – anything is possible.     (The social worker had informed me that the Banning’s had figured out that Aid for Dependent Children would cut off payments if they gave up Donny and therefore told me to go out and pound sand).
The law in an Honest setting is a joy.     The RULE OF LAW is societies escape value and lawyers are the plumbers who open the value.     The Administrative Branch of the Government and the Legislative Branch make up rules that sometimes are counterproductive however, the Chancery branch of the Court (Equity) acts to prove a remedy.    Judges like Sam Epstein, John Lupe, et al in 1960 were on the bench and they took their duties seriously and understood why they were Judges.     John Lupe as an example was a judge who always left the attorneys satisfied that their clients had a fair and proper day in Court.    I never heard a lawyer bad mouth Judge Lupe.
Illinois unfortunately had as part of its statutes a Juvenile Court Act.    As usual the Juvenile Court was a cesspool.    Not only were the Judges overworked, but the non- political social workers – i.e. the social workers who did not have Democratic Party affiliation or clout had caseloads that were absurd.   The social worker assigned to the Donald Banning (age 5) case had 700 active cases in addition to the Banning case.    She expected that ½ of her children would reach majority or die prior to any successful adjudication of their problems.     (I am not exaggerating!)     She knew about Donny and had visited the home about 12 months prior; however, she had not opened a file yet.   However, she was working on it.
The old bug a boo – Frustration!  Entered the picture.       My father saw Donny in the office, and took him over to Saint Francis Hospital.     He noticed that the child was in pain and he and Uncle Sol poured over the child to find the source of the pain.    They found numerous minute fractures all over the child.     The Police were called and we all got together wrung our hands and deplored the situation.    Dad looked at me and demanded that I do something!
Under the gun, with everyone looking to me to solve a problem that had no solution I drafted a Chancery complaint asking the Chancery Court (equity court) to under its inherent jurisdiction to protect a child who was under assault within its jurisdiction (parens patrie).     I asked the Court to enjoin the parents (the Bannings) from having anything to do with the care, custody and control of the child as the child’s life was in danger.
If I did not have good luck, I would have no luck at all.     As I drafted the complaint, in walked  Deputy Sherriff Robert Schwartz.    He just happened to be in the neighborhood and saw a crowd of people in my office and wanted to know if there was something he could do for me.     Indeed, there was!     I needed the Petition for an Injunction filed in the Circuit Court, and the Bannings served with summons for tomorrow morning.
I spent the rest of the afternoon and most of the evening preparing for a hearing the next morning.    I even prepared my witnesses, labelled my exhibits and provided subpoenas for my witnesses so that they could miss work without losing pay.
That evening I went home, and barely slept a minute.     I worried, tossed, turned and dug out a brief I had written in law school on the parens patrie subject.
The next morning at 9:30A.M I appeared before Judge Sam Epstein.    The Bannings, who were so dirt poor that they could not afford a lawyer to get Mr. Banning out of jail, showed up armed with a lawyer and a bunch of his friends.    I went over to talk to the Banning lawyer and he was not impressed the x-rays showing the minute fractures all over Donny’s body –  boys will be boys – a real boy get tough by breaking his bones!     The affidavits of neighbors that Donny was not fed – and if they did not feed him he would starve to death – All young boys are always hungry – if the neighbors want to feed him = God love them.    The fact that Donny was observed being hit by his father so hard the little boy would literally be lifted off the ground was met with – I have not right to interfere in a father disciplining his son.
Finally, the case was called.    For the purpose of a TRO (good for ten days) the Judge would accept the pleadings as true, however, he wanted to know HOW HE HAD JURISDICTION and he wanted to hear some evidence from the grandparents and Donny.     I cited Pierce vs. Society of Sisters and explained that because of the backlog at the Juvenile Court we were without a remedy at law.    Everyone knew about the cesspool called the Juvenile Court including Judge Epstein.
I called Donny as my first witness.     I asked him how he felt, and he honesty told the judge he felt terrible and described the pains that he felt.    The child was nervous, so I lifted him bodily and placed him on the bar in front of the Judge’s bench.     He was so little and so vulnerable!     I asked him if he was hungry and elicited from him a sketch of his home life, and then I asked him if he would like to live with his grandparents.   In answer to this question the child hugged me so tightly that I almost squealed.
It would not matter – I looked up at the Judge and HE WAS GONE!     I looked at my opponent – he was in tears and in fact there was not a dry eye anywhere – except that of Mr. and Mrs. Banning – they were fuming!
The Court clerk – who just happened to be a friend who I periodically went to lunch with, and a legendary Chicago Bar – whispered the Judge will sign any order that you hand him.   I’ve never seen him so touched.     Judge Epstein had left the bench crying and upset that he could not lunge from the bench and strangle the Bannings.
I prepared a Permeant Injunction order barring the Bannings from having anything whatsoever with the care custody and control of Donald Banning Jr (age 5) and they were not to come within five miles of Mrs. Banning’s mother’s home without 24 hours’ notice.     After I prepared the order, I turned to show to the Banning’s attorney – he was GONE!      Mr. Banning informed me that there would be an appeal.   The Judge signed the order and Donny went to live with his Grandparents for the next 13 years.    He graduated High School and even went to college.     Years later he reconciled with his parents however he died of natural causes before his 22th birthday.      I know nothing of the Bannings after that day in Court.   Sadly, it is now 50 plus years later and the Juvenile Court has not reached the Juvenile case of Donald Banning Jr.
This line of assignments proved that the absurd was more often the normal rather than the rare.    The bureaucracy was always willing to obstruct and discourage.      Even religious organizations were a source of frustration.        Bureaucracy whether political, governmental, religious, corporate or inadvertent was united in frustrating any attempt to protect these children under attack by their uncaring and abusive parents.     One example stands out.
By way of background, my father and my uncle accumulated a great deal of ‘good will’ with their clinics and success in addressing allergy related illnesses.     St. Francis and St. Joseph Hospital were literally Mecca’s for people who suffered from illnesses that heretofore had been diagnosed as “too bad – tough luck.”    Allergies related to proteins in the water were detected and other rare allergies appeared no longer to by mysteries, but curable events.    Of course, both my father and my uncle (and Joe Murphy) were master salesman – the mind is a powerful tool and it can cure illness that the most powerful medicine cannot address.
When the saga of the F family was related to me I was experienced enough to know that going to the Juvenile Court was an futile.    Juvenile Protective had already caused Children and Family Service (the State Agency) to be alerted and as usual they were about as interested in the fact that Mr. F was nightly raping his two daughters and both had run away.    Mrs. F was frantic but she had her other six children to address in her inadequate way and their needs to mis=manage.    I was a hero – for the moment – and thusly my office became the ‘war room.’      I remembered that Monsieur D just happened to be in charge of the Orphanages and “good works” activities of the Church – and this was a Catholic Family.    My father had been assured that if he ever needed a favor, he just had to call and no matter what it was it would be granted.
I never had such clout at my disposal!    I made the call!       The result was that I was told that my two little girls who were being sexually assaulted were not welcome.    The Catholic Church would not accept them without a specific referral from the Juvenile Court.    I need shelter right then and there.    I called my father, and to his absolute amazement he got the same response.       Dad was fuming!    So was I, however, I had another card to play.     I was a graduate of a Catholic Law School and I had the ear of some the dean.     When he asked me to appear on a Panel Show and advocate for the Mass being kept in Latin, I did not hesitate and in fact  was quite credible.     Thus, I called the Dean.
The mercenary attitude of the Church shocked him, and he told me that he would meet me at his sister’s house and we would on bended knee ask for her help.     I did not ask any questions, hopped into my car and drove the Home of his sister.    Her name rang in my mind and as I pulled up to her home I realized that the Juvenile facility was named after her husband!      The dean’s sister was a delightful “old lady” who after offering me a cup of coffee, picked up the telephone and made a telephone call.    Her voice went from very pleasant to very intimidating, especially when she said:  “I’m going to call a news conference right now and *****”     A hour later my two little girls were in Maryville, and the other six children an Angle Guardian.       I am still eternally grateful.
The politics of juvenile justice was too personally wearing on me.    Like the Court corruption and the arrogance thereof I am at a loss to understand it.     It was terrible and so amazing I could not believe it.     Over the years that followed I had run=ins with the bureaucracy, however, I never mellowed.     Until I became involved in the Elder Cleansing scandal I could not envision such a general lack of conscience and self respect existing.    How could you not do something when you saw a helpless child floundering and about to either or endure something worse than death?       How naïve I was – and probably still am.    However, I am still amazed.   [1]


[1] The toughest Policeman are not immune to this problem.     Over the years a number of “cops” have gotten themselves in serious professional trouble aiding children in trouble.    An Evanston, Illinois policeman one Friday evening was called to a domestic dispute.   The couple could not be controlled and they dispatched each other leaving a two year old helpless baby all alone in the world.    He found himself with the child as the police were vacating he scene and inquired as to what do he.   He was told to transport the child to the Juvenile detention center.
He looked at child, saw that he was hungry, so he took him home.    His wife convinced him that bring the child to the detention center on Saturday night meant that little tike would be alone and neglected not only on Friday night but on Saturday on Sunday.    Monday morning he delivered the child to the detention center, and a hour later disciplinary proceedings were brought!
He called me.    I called the dean’s sister.    The matter was resolved before dinner.    (His wife agreed to take foster care of the child)
Ken Ditkowsky
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