Petition of the Month, July 2014: Ditkowsky v. The Illinois Attorney Disciplinary Review Committee (IARDC)

The Supreme Court Press “Petition of the Month”TM for July 2014 is Ditkowsky v. The Illinois Attorney Disciplinary Review Committee (IARDC) Supreme Court Dkt. No. 13-1473, an appeal coming out of the State of Illinois. The petition was filed pro se by the petitioner Kenneth K. Ditkowsky.

Question Presented: (two of four questions presented by Petitioner)

1. Does the First Amendment provide protection to an attorney who reports criminal conduct to law enforcement?

2. Does the Illinois Attorney Disciplinary code nullify the moral and common law obligation of requiring citizens to object to elder abuse and financial exploitation of the elderly?

tiny lion

Many lawyers take up the law for idealistic reasons - to fight for the weak, to correct injustices, and preserve the rule of law. Upholding these values requires action be taken - action that can be lauded as crusading and exemplary by some, but reckless and inconvenient by others. However, when the lawyer takes on corruption whose seed might be planted within the legal system itself, the system sometimes retaliates with a fury with the ultimate punishment for an attorney - a referral to the bar's disciplinary committee and long term suspension or disbarment.

In the case of Ditkowsky v. The Illinois Attorney Disciplinary Review Committee (IARDC), Supreme Court, Dkt. No. 13-1473, Kenneth Ditkowsky was suspended from the bar for four years due to his investigation of what he believed to be the looting of an elderly woman, Mary Sykes. He believed that her attorney-guardian may have gone so far as to have stripped her bank safe deposit box and gold teeth fillings.. When he pursued the investigation, he was referred to the IARDC which recommended and ultimately achieved Ditkowsky's bar suspension. The IARDC took little account of Ditkowsky's past role in ferreting out corruption, notably helping the feds uncover judicial bribe taking in the Operation Greylord scandal of thirty years ago.

The Ditkowsky petition asks the Court to consider whether a lawyer's action to protect a potential abuse victim is Constitutionally protected speech.

As I dug into the Sykes case, I discovered that I had stepped into a quagmire. What was going was unbelievable! The family of Alice Gore reported that their mother was isolated, stripped of her assets, abused and Attorney Miriam Solo had orchestrated the removal of 29 teeth from Ms. Gore's mouth so as to mine her gold fillings!                                                                                                                                                                                                           - Kenneth K. Ditkowsky
tiny lion Mr. Ditkowsky – Thank you for sitting down with us and discussing your Supreme Court filing. You have an interesting background as an activist for judicial integrity.  Can you tell our readers about your role in ferreting out the corruption in Operation Greylord?
tiny lion

As an active practicing attorney in Cook County, Illinois, I had several occasions to appear before Judges who were targeted by the Operation Greylord scandal. This scandal rocked the legal profession as it exposed not only the extent of the corruption but the venality. The Chief Judge of the Chancery Division, Judge Shields,   was charged with accepting a $200.00 bribe. Dave Shields had had a reputation as a ‘reformer’ and had been expected to be a future leader of the new era of trust that was about to commence in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Fifteen Judges, dozens of attorneys, dozens of court personnel etc. went to jail; additional judges quietly retired, allowing them to avoid facing charges.

The most venal of the judges was R. Holtzer. He was the President of his religious organization and managed to associate himself with all the right causes.vHis wife was a supervising Insurance Agent for the Prudential Insurance Company and in fact supervised several of my clients. As luck would have it, I accepted an injunction suit that was assigned to Judge Holtzer. The facts were uncontested and in my mind, my clients’ right to an injunction was guaranteed by black letter law. An entire community was being cut off by certain City of Chicago construction so that from approximately 6:00 A.M. to 10:00 A.M. and 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM they, and most emergency vehicles, would have extreme difficulty in accessing their homes.  

Immediately after the case was assigned, I had a visitor.   Mrs. Holtzer came to my office and informed me that I needed several hundred thousand dollars of life insurance. As I had not just fallen off the turnip truck, I politely invited her to leave the office, pointing out to her that my insurance agent was a Mr. Gross, an agent under her supervision; I would discuss my insurance needs with him. I then made two telephone calls. The first call was to a Treasury Agent who was assigned to the Intelligence unit, and the second was to a personal friend who at that time just happened to be the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI office in Miami, Florida.   I was almost livid with anger and had to blow off steam somewhere.   My two friends were willing listeners. I knew that my refusal to purchase insurance meant that when the case came up for hearing the next morning, I was a dead bag loser.  I prepared my Notice of Appeal and docketing statement.  As scheduled, the next morning we appeared before Judge Holtzer.  The Judge was so very nice that butter would not melt in his mouth. He listened with great interest to our arguments, asked some questions and then with pursed judicial demeanor announced that he was dismissing the case as we had an adequate remedy at law.  The Construction would only continue on for a few months and the Construction company had posted a bond and therefore *****.   I waited for the order of dismissal to be entered and served everyone in sight with a copy of the Notice of Appeal.   I then went down to the clerks’ office and ordered an expedited record.  Thereafter I went to the Appellate Court clerks’ office, paid my docketing fee and filed the docketing statement.             

When I returned to my office, a messenger from the Corporation Counsel’s office was waiting for me with a document entitled “Confession of Error”! The City of Chicago was acknowledging the appropriateness of the Petition for Injunctive relief and was obviating the need for an appeal!

Judge Holtzer was not the only Judge engaging in such tactics. I appeared before many of the judges but was not affected except in two additional cases. The rulings in those cases were very strange. The lawyers on the other side of each of these cases were very defensive and neither could look me in the eye.  I have no concrete evidence that there was anything wrong or that any of the judges or lawyers were corrupt.

The bulk of the Greylord problems involved the traffic court.  It was not uncommon to hear that if you hired a particular lawyer, no matter how serious the traffic charge was he had a 100% success rate. Of course, if you had parking tickets, etc., seeing a particular lawyer and/or a particular assistant corporate counsel would cause the ordinance violations to go away.  Similarly, in the criminal courts, certain lawyers had magic powers and their clients fared much better than those of ordinary lawyers. The cottage industry of corruption was exposed by the United States of America in subsequent enforcement procedures undertaken in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

tiny lion

Today we stand at the thirty year anniversary of the first Greylord conviction. What is your assessment of the present state of the Cook County judiciary? 

tiny lion

Today corruption is not open and notorious as it once was. For instance, in 1961 when I first appeared before the Bar, corruption was worn like a badge of honor. We had two competing Courts – the Circuit Court (essentially a Court run by the Mr. Nash and Mr. Kelly – Democratic Party power houses) and the Superior Court (essentially run by the Republicans).

The Court had some very fine judges. Judge Lupe as an example had the reputation for honor and honesty. Lawyers who appeared before him – win, lose or draw – lauded him and win lose or draw reported their cases had received a fair trial. Judge Covelli had a well-deserved reputation for his sense of humor. In one case, the foreign born parties to a lawsuit lapsed into their native language. No interpreter was present or called for and Covelli, without missing a beat, allowed each to testify in his/her native language. Covelli's translation was "He says 'yes'; she says 'no'". In another case, I and my opponent discovered that there was no resolution possible in the case because of the 'Rule Against Perpetuities'. Covelli ordered the sheriff to lock us in the Jury Room until we came to a settlement. When we discovered he was pushing the limits, it took us two hours, but we did reach an agreement which was found satisfactory by both of our opposing clients. Most importantly every Chancery Judge had a sense of humor and in non-political cases – always provided a level playing field. You can name these judges on the fingers of one hand. The Court employed Masters in Chancery. The Masters were a world apart. Certain fixer firms abounded, and if they appeared as your opponent, a smart lawyer resigned or prepared for an appeal.

Some judges were openly soliciting bribes. One called me on the telephone at home and his words to me were "the bid is five". I had no idea why he was calling or what he meant. I soon found out. Another ruled that the Pythagorean Theorem formula was invalid. This judge, after I served a Notice of Appeal, was informed by his son, a high school freshman, that he was wrong and would be embarrassed. The Judge actually came to my home and begged me to withdraw the appeal. He presented a settlement offer that I could not refuse.

After Greylord nothing really changed except that the fixer firms changed their names and the open solicitation for bribes was curtailed. I say curtailed because it takes a new form today. Gone is the white envelope full of dollars. As Judges are elected, many have campaign fund accounts and the bribe is a campaign contribution. As an elected judge faces a retention ballot periodically, rhetorically he/she has to have money to protect his position; however, there are more teeth in the mouth of the average hen than judges not being retained. A wife or child of a judge might legally receive a salary for being the chairman of the campaign committee or an employee in a not disinterested firm.

I've detailed in e-mails to the United States Treasury, law enforcement and other interested people a paper on how judges and other members of the political elite receive bribes. The White Envelope Full of Cash is obsolete. I had one case in which the Judge's wife was hired during the case by the defendant entity. In fact the employment contract was offered and accepted on the day of trial. In a case in which the Director of the Illinois Department of Revenue was an interested party, one of the investigators for the IDR furnished me a copy of the Supreme Court of Illinois' opinion a one full week before it was announced to the public. She informed me that the opinion had been written by *****, an attorney in the Illinois Department of Revenue office. (I never verified her statement but, word for word, the document I received was filed as the opinion of the Court!) I did notice that as each judge retired, he was appointed by the Illinois Department of Revenue as a special attorney in a particularly complicated tax case. This all may be coincidence and unrelated to the decision as reached.

The guardianship cases about which I complained, for which the Illinois ARDC and the Illinois Supreme Court pulled my license, present a whole smorgasbord of examples. Gloria Sykes reported that there were unusual campaign contributions by ****'s husband to a political figure. ***** reported that this husband was involved in more than a hundred real estate transactions involving estates in a single year. Indeed, the official real estate transaction records of Cook County reveal unusual mortgage transactions as well as transactions in which one party allegedly in disrepute purchases a parcel of land and then turns around and resells it to a political figure who is in a position to do "some good" to the aforesaid party at a bargain price.

Your inquiry is whether or not Greylord created any change in the climate of corruption in Cook County. The answer is yes. The system is just as venal as it ever was, however, the transactions are much more subtle and much harder to prove. If I wish to sell my home to Judge X for half of its value, who is to tell me I cannot. You may assume that the verdict that I receive from Judge X next January is related, but, ****. Judge X's daughter is a very bright articulate young woman. Why should I discriminate against her and not hire her as my personal assistant?

Let me make it very clear. We have some bad people in Cook County who are judges, but, we also have many who are dedicated public servants who try to do a good job. For instance, we have several judges who work obscenely long hours and actually read the law, attempt to understand the facts, and go out of their way so that each litigant enjoys a level playing field. In my fifty plus years before the Bar, I've appeared before hundreds of judges who have made me proud of my profession and more importantly proud to appear before them. I've had opponents who I'd give my right arm for and they for me. The vast majority of lawyers and judges whom I've appeared before (or with) are honorable men and women whom I number among my friends. However, there is a minority who are the nadir of the profession. It is indeed fortunate that this collection of miscreants appeared in the twilight of my career rather than in the beginning. (In my early days I was pugnacious)

I hope that this answered your question. A lawyer is trained to answer every question with a firm "maybe!"

In answer to your question requesting my opinion as to whether the judges who suspended me are problem judges, I have to make the following statement: The Judges of the Supreme Court of Illinois are elected. They are the judges who suspended me. What they did was to affirm the review panel of the IARDC. My research on these panels of the IARDC suggests to me that if the IARDC decided that red was green, the panels would attorn and each panel in turn would agree. The Supreme Court seems to rubber stamp most of the proceedings of the IARDC. However, it also appears that an unusual decision is from time to time published. I refer you to Karavidas 2013 IL 115767 (page 15), and Peel v ARDC 496 US 91 (page 10, 33, 34, 38). It should be noted that the seven Judges of the Illinois Supreme Court, like all attorneys, have taken an oath to protect the Constitution of Illinois and the United States of America. It is quite obvious that Mr. Larkin, his commission, his lawyers and his rubber stamp panels have assaulted the First Amendment. Article 1 Section 12 of the Illinois Constitution directs the entities of Illinois including the Supreme Court to provide a remedy for all wrongs perpetrated in the state. It therefore follows that the judges of the Supreme Court of Illinois have been specifically directed to protect citizens from grievous wrongs that have been promulgated against the elderly, disabled, and the whistleblowers such as yours truly who protest elder cleansing.

tiny lion

Let’s now turn to the case that precipitated your Supreme Court filing – which unfortunately is your own case – you were suspended from practicing law for four years – for conduct that allegedly occurred in conjunction with your vigorous legal defense of an elderly woman named Mary Sykes whose assets were possibly being looted. Can you describe the concerns regarding Ms. Sykes that you were investigating?

tiny lion

Illinois in its statutes has incorporated all the protections necessary to protect senior citizens from exploitation and abuse. 735 ILCS 110/5 guarantees that the rights under the First Amendment and Article 1 section 4 of the Illinois Constitution are FIRST PRINCIPLES! Section 755 ILCS 5/11a – 3 points out that guardianships are not death sentences, but are only tools to be used to provide healthy, comfortable, happy and useful lives for persons subject to the draconian remedy of guardianship. Guardianship is a thankless task (and intended to be so) that only well-meaning and well intentioned people should undertake.

My concern with the Mary Sykes case was the allegation and the proof that developed that convinced me that she was railroaded into a guardianship so that her hard earned assets could be expropriated by her older daughter and she could be eliminated. I refer to this final solution as "involuntary assisted suicide." I knew Mary; I had represented her previously in a jury trial. I know from my experience that the dementia is progressive and does not suddenly appear. I also knew that Mary's older daughter was married to an individual who suffered from chronic unemployment. He just could not keep a job.

As I state in my petition after Mary's family contacted me, I started my FRCP 11 investigation. This investigation required me to find out why Dr. Patel's report was 180 degrees different than the Report of Dr. Amdur. To my surprise Adam Stern called me and threatened me. When Stern could not frighten me, Peter Schmiedel called and he reiterated the threats. (I opened the speaker phone so that my wife could hear each conversation). The two attorneys, the first a Guardian ad Litem, the second, the attorney for the plenary guardian, then filed a Supreme Court Rule 137 motion against me. Rule 137 deals with false pleadings – I had not even inadvertently had contact with any pleading or any proceeding involving the case of In re: Mary Sykes 09 P 4585.

Now I was hooked. Even though there was no jurisdiction I had to address the threats. To my surprise, Judge Connors found me guilty of a Rule 137 violation. Exactly what violation it was has been never disclosed, but, the IARDC and these miscreants do not apparently have to be specific. I am accused by the IARDC of making false statements, yet not a single statement ever been disclosed. Whatever the false statements are only the IARDC knows! (The sanction was reversed by the Court of Appeals for lack of jurisdiction.)

Lawyers hold a special position of trust. We are not robots, and our loyalty is to Lady Justice. We do not aid and abet criminal conduct and we certainly do not participate in it. (Maybe I should say – most lawyers!). When injustice or wrongs occur as citizens, not only do we morally have a duty to address these wrongs, but our oath to defend the Constitution (and 18 USCA 4) require each of us (lawyers) to report to law enforcement the criminal activity.

I had received threats! Honest lawyers do not threaten – they do! Why should Adam Stern threaten me? Why would he be interested in preventing me from investigating a guardianship? The answer is obvious and I took the information that I knew and informed law enforcement. (Gloria Sykes had written a long complaint to the IARDC complaining of the fact her mother was being abused and isolated. She further complained of the theft of her and her mother's property and the highly suspect and improper actions of Judge Connors, Cynthia Farenga, Adam Stern, et al.) I wrote requesting an investigation.

As I dug into the Sykes case, I discovered that I had stepped into a quagmire. What was going was unbelievable! The family of Alice Gore reported that their mother was also isolated, stripped of her assets, abused and Attorney Miriam Solo had orchestrated the removal of 29 teeth from Ms. Gore's mouth so as to mine her gold filings!

tiny lion

How did it happen that you, acting as a defender of an elderly woman, became the ultimate victim, through a complaint to the IARDC?  What did they allege you did?

tiny lion

The Appellate Court decision finding that the Rule 137 proceedings against me were conducted without jurisdiction was described by Adam Stern as a technicality. Cynthia Farenga, the original Guardian ad Litem was extremely upset, as not only was Judge Connors rendered helpless to stop me from exercising my First Amendment Rights but I was now communicating with the Justice Department, Senator Kirk, and more significantly I was pointing out that a breach of fiduciary relationship was a taxable event. What this meant was that the 'loot' from the elder cleansing was taxable income. Worse yet it was to be taxed as ordinary income rates

As Blogs were picking up my statements and republishing them, the miscreants understood that it was possible that the Department of the Treasury would assign one of its employees in the intelligence division to examine the finances in the Sykes case. It also was apparent that Gloria Sykes and a bunch of her mother's friends and neighbors were letter writers. They also were waging a vocal protest to the IARDC and law enforcement over the railroading of Mary Sykes into a guardianship wherein her liberty and property could be pirated. Scott Evans, a former Federal Employee with the CIA, disclosed that he had actually tracked down Mary and found her in an adult day care facility in Naperville, Illinois. He described the horrid conditions and how Mary had absolutely no stimulation or contact with "alive" people. He described the other residents as "zombies!" What upset Judge Connors, and the miscreants was the fact that he chose to disclose this fact after Peter Schmiedel informed the Court of the "wonderful progress" Mary was making

Mr. Larkin and the IARDC desired to silence me and in particular wanted to stop the flow of letters and e-mails coming from me. The "safe harbor" letters to Farenga, and Stern were particularly offensive in that I offered to leave them out of any Civil Rights suit that I might file either for myself or a client if they just did the job that they were required to do. This job required them to formally report to the Court and allow to appear a record some uncontroverted facts:

The plenary guardian was insolvent prior to her appointment, yet today she exhibits all the attributes of wealth including expensive jewelry, lavish parties, expensive vacations, massive remodeling on her home etc. The big change in the fortunes of the plenary guardian is that she is now a pensioner, having retired from her educator position.

Mary Sykes had a safety deposit box (as a co-tenant with Gloria). This box was accessed by the guardian, the contents removed and not one item was inventoried. This box contained a large number of gold coins. These coins were those that Mary and Gloria inherited from Mary's husband and one Albert Biddy. The coins had a value in excess of a million dollars. Mary's two siblings and her younger daughter complained that they could not contact Mary. Telephone contact was forbidden by the plenary guardian. Mary's contact with other friends and neighbors was cut off. Even her beloved garden club was forbidden her. Frequent visits to the emergency room by Mary were noted, including one visit in occasioned by Mary losing 10% of her body weight. Mary had trouble swallowing – the guardian just neglected to get her medical help.

I suggested that either of the GALs report to the Court that I had informed them of these facts and they could use my name, if either could not personally verify any of them, if such made them more comfortable. When I received no reply, I reported this fact to law enforcement. I demanded an Honest, intelligent and comprehensive investigation. See Farenga letter. Farenga's letters are reproduced in Appendix P of the Petition for Writ of Certiorari.

Stripped to its essentials that IARDC complaint against me is that I complied with FRCP and started an investigation before filing a lawsuit, and when attempts to silence were promulgated I wrote to law enforcement and others a complaint that outlined some uncontroverted facts, to wit:
The guardianship of Mary violated the Rule of Law and in particular the Constitution in that:
No jurisdiction was obtained as Mary was not served with process that complied with the statutory requirements. The file indicates that there was no service on her at all. No notice of any kind was given to the relatives of Mary Sykes including her two sisters – this is also jurisdictional. Every protection to which Mary was entitled was ignored.

It is respectfully submitted that the respondent and in particular its director made it clear in their cross-examination of me that this entire proceeding was brought because they could not intimidate me into abandoning my responsibilities as a human being. The punishment was augmented to four years because I showed no remorse. (An IARDC attorney actually asked me if I was remorseful for writing to the Attorney General of the United States disclosing this elder cleansing of Mary Sykes).
Effect on me of the Spurious Charges that threatened my livihood.

The question of how this chilling action by the Illinois Supreme Court affects other lawyers in suspending me, Mr. Amu, and prosecuting Ms. Denison has one simple answer. I do not know, however, I suspect that a family member or victim of elder cleansing is having a more difficult task in obtaining a lawyer to protect their interests. If my suspicion is correct, the Illinois Supreme Court has not only done a terrible service to the Illinois public, but forever tarnished its reputation and that of the legal profession.                                                                                                                                                                                       - Kenneth K. Ditkowsky
tiny lion

How did you react when you learned that your law license was in jeopardy, when you were exercising your First Amendment rights and doing what you believed would assist a possible criminal investigation?

tiny lion

At first I could not believe that any State of Illinois entity would violate the policy of the State as recited in 735 ILCS 110/5; however, I did know that Illinois was the second most corrupt State in the Union. Illinois had two governors in Federal prison! Students could not name five governors of the State who had not been jailbirds in the past Century. It was difficult to pick up a newspaper and not read about some member of the political elite who was not in some sort of criminal proceeding as a defendant.
In my previous half century as a lawyer I had crossed swords with other corrupt political people and I even was the potential victim of a 'hit.' The miscreant was apprehended in the alley behind my home. A neighbor saw him lurking in the alley and called the police. He confessed to his purpose. I recognized the current miscreants as scavengers who preyed on the elderly and the disabled. As Gloria Sykes informed me that all she wanted was her mother to be free from bondage and returned to the life she (Mary) loved, I figured that having secured the 'loot' the miscreants would consider me a minor nuisance and avoid me.

Ms. Black who was the IARDC attorney had much more on her mind. She even tried to intimidate Ms. Sykes and as noted in the appendix in answers to discovery pointed out that the administrator had filed his complaint against me without a scintilla of evidence that I had even made a statement that was inaccurate. This became serious when I was denied the opportunity to know what statements I made that were false, and even though the file of case 09 P 4585 vindicated every statement I made (or any of the friends and family of Mary Sykes had made), my subpoena for the file was quashed. Not only were the charges brought against me a secret, but any evidence that might inadvertently demonstrate the perfidy of the proceeding was not to be allowed to get within a country mile of the proceeding.

What was particularly interesting and disturbing was the fact that the Supreme Court of the United States had ruled on the issues I was facing and pointed out that the First Amendment protected even outright lies if they were content related. Tthe respondent was therefore arguing you could sell violent videos to children, picket funerals of dead heroes, falsely claim to be a Medal of Honor winner, however you could not report criminal behavior of judicial officials. So disingenuous was the proceeding that the IARDC attorney made statements concerning a fifty year old Sawyer case (decided by the Supreme Court) that were contradicted in the last paragraphs of the opinion. The ruling of the Court was 100% contrary to the statement by an ARDC attorney. After I quoted the ruling word for word as stated by the court, both orally and in documents filed with the court, future statements by the IARDC did not cite the case. Sawyer unless over-ruled should cause the Supreme Court of the United States to reverse the decision of the Illinois Supreme Court that affects me.

tiny lion

Don’t you feel your case has a chilling effect on attorneys who spot corruption?

tiny lion

The question of how this chilling action by the Illinois Supreme Court affects other lawyers in suspending me, Mr. Amu, and prosecuting Ms. Denison has one simple answer.   I do not know. However, I suspect that a family member or victim of elder cleansing is having a more difficult task in obtaining a lawyer to protect their interests.    If my suspicion is correct,  the Illinois Supreme Court has not only done a terrible service to the Illinois public, but forever tarnished its reputation and that of the legal profession.   Respect is earned.   It is earned by hard work, diligence, honor and honesty.     

 In my humble opinion it is dishonest for a lawyer to  shirk his responsibility to the Bill of Rights and the core value of Americans.  No one asked any individual to be a lawyer!  The taking of the oath meant taking the responsibility to stand up when Americana is threatened and be counted even if it means personal loss.  This may be flag waving – but, we have something special and it must be preserved.

  In my humble opinion it is dishonest for a lawyer to  shirk his responsibility to the Bill of Rights and the core value of Americans.  No one asked any individual to be a lawyer!  The taking of the oath meant taking the responsibility to stand up when Americana is threatened and be counted even if it means personal loss.  This may be flag waving – but, we have something special and it must be preserved.                                                                                                                                                                                                                       - Kenneth K. Ditkowsky

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