It’s difficult to tell you my family’s history without beginning with the first few years of mine. Fortunately, the first few years of my life are accurately and concisely told in a court report easily found online or on file at the 19th Judicial District Court of East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. I was the minor child, Jason Ian Partin, and four years previously I had been abandoned by my mother and father and placed in the Louisiana foster system under the Guardianship of Mr. and Mrs. Ed White.
In the 1976 court report, Judge JJ Lottingger had this to say about my family and our situation:
This is a suit by Edward Partin, Jr., plaintiff, seeking a divorce from his wife, Wendy Rothdram Partin, defendant, after having lived separate and apart for more than one year following a judgment of separation from bed and board. Plaintiff also seeks custody of the minor child, Jason Ian Partin, and the defendant reconvened asking that she be granted the permanent care, custody and control of the minor child.
The Trial Court had previously, by ex parte order, awarded the temporary care, custody and control of the minor to Mr. and Mrs. James Ed White. Following trial on the merits, plaintiff was awarded a divorce as well as the permanent care, custody and control of the minor child, with the temporary physical custody of the minor child to remain with Mr. and Mrs. James Ed White. The defendant has appealed this judgment as it regards the custody of the child.
This couple was married when plaintiff was 17 and the defendant was 16 years of age. Nine months following the marriage, they gave birth to young Jason. While we are not concerned with the facts surrounding the separation and divorce, it was apparently one of incompatibility as defendant testified that at the age of 17 she found herself married to a man who did not love her and so she left. Her testimony was as follows:
“[A]s I say I was emotionally upset. I was receiving little support from Edward. I was scared, very confused. I didn’t know exactly which way to turn. I felt I had no one to listen and help with the situation at hand.”
Several weeks later she returned and lived with her husband again. She found that the situation hadn’t changed, and felt she had to get away again. She heard of a man who wanted someone to share expenses on a trip to California, so she quit her job and with her last wages left with him. She testified that she had no sexual relations with this man, and plaintiff does not accuse her of such. Following this trip she returned to Baton Rouge still emotionally upset. Her husband was suing her for separation and told her he was going to take custody of Jason. She went to live with her aunt and uncle, got a full time job with Kelly Girls paying $512.00 per month.
In February, 1975, the defendant’s mother was injured in an accident and she moved in with her to care for her. In September, 1975, following the recuperation of the mother she returned to live with her aunt and uncle.
During these above periods of time, the minor child lived with Mr. and Mrs. White. The Whites came to regard Jason as their own and, although the separation judgment awarded custody to the plaintiff with reasonable visitation privileges to the defendant, the Whites decided the defendant-mother could only see the child two days a month and that she could never keep the child over night. The reason the defendant did not contest custody at the separation trial was because at the time she felt unable emotionally and financially to care for her son.
The defendant contends that the Trial Court erred in (1) awarding custody of the minor to the Whites by ex parte motion: (2) awarding custody to the father when the mother has superior rights; and (3) in requiring defendant to meet the double burden of proof as to custody.
In discussing the specifications of error, we will first determine whether the defendant must bear the “double burden” of proof in attempting to regain custody of her minor child as required by Decker v. Landry, 227 La. 603, 80 So.2d 91 (1955), rehearing denied (1955).
We note that the petition for separation was grounded on habitual intemperance, as well as abandonment of the husband and the minor child. There are no other grounds listed for the separation nor for custody. The petition for the separation and custody of the minor child was not contested by the defendant, and a default judgment was granted. Defendant testified in the instant proceedings that the reason she did not contest custody in the separation proceeding was that she was not financially or emotionally capable of caring for the minor, and that knowing the Whites were going to be caring for him, she knew he would be in good hands.
Though the petition for separation had as one of its allegations “habitual intemperance”, the plaintiff in the instant proceeding testified that he had never accused his wife of drinking, nor had he ever seen her drink.
In interpreting what the Louisiana Supreme Court meant by the language “considered decree” in establishing the “double burden” rule in Decker v. Landry, supra, this Court said in Gulino v. Gulino, 303 So.2d 299, 303 (La.App. 1st Cir. 1974), “that a considered determination of custody means a trial of the issue and decision thereon applying pertinent principles of law to the facts adduced.” We do not find that any such determination was ever made in this case, and thus hold that the “double burden” rule does not apply.
Since we have concluded that the “double burden” rule is not applicable under the facts of this case, we must determine whether the Trial Judge has abused the great discretion that is granted to him in child custody matters.
The welfare of the child is the main issue that the Court is concerned with. This issue is more important than any wishes or wants the parents may have. Fulco v. Fulco, 259 La. 1122, 254 So.2d 603 (1971), rehearing denied (1971). As a general rule, and in particular where children of young age are involved, preference is given to the mother in custody cases. This preference is very simply explained, the mother is normally better able to care for the child and look after the education, rearing, and training necessary. Estes v. Estes, 261 La. 20, 258 So.2d 857 (1972), rehearing denied (1972).
No argument is made that the mother is not now morally or emotionally fit to care for the child, or that the house in which she lives is not a proper place to rear a child. In fact, the Trial Judge admitted that it was a fine home.
The Trial Judge has not favored us with written reasons for judgment, however, we must conclude from various statements by the Trial Judge that appear in the record that he could find no fault with the defendant, nor was there anything wrong with the house in which she lived. It thus becomes apparent to this Court that the Trial Judge applied the “double burden” rule to the defendant. We have already ruled that the “double burden” rule does not apply in this situation, and thus, under the established jurisprudential rules, we can see no reason why the defendant-mother should not be granted the permanent care, custody and control of the minor child with reasonable visitation privileges granted to the father.
In consideration of our above opinion, there is no need to discuss the specification of error as to the ex parte granting of custody to the Whites.
Therefore, for the above and foregoing reasons, the judgment of the Trial Court is reversed, and IT IS ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that the defendant-appellant, Wendy Rothdram Partin, be and she is hereby granted the permanent care, custody and control of the minor, Jason Ian Partin, and IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that this matter be and it is hereby remanded to the Trial Court for the purpose of fixing specific visitation privileges on behalf of plaintiff-appellee Edward Partin, Jr. All costs of the appeal are to be paid by plaintiff-appellee.
Judge Lottingger didn’t follow through with his judgement, and I would languish in the foster system for another year because court systems move slowly and court records rarely tell the full story; Eventually and gradually, I transitioned into shared custody between Wendy and my dad, and I began to learn more about my biologic family.
Wendy Anne Rothdram Partin was born in Richmond Hill, Ontario, a suburb of Tornonto, in 1955. Her grandfather was Harold Hicks, a professional hockey player for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins who later retired as a senior manager in the Canadian railroad system, and her great-aunt was Edith Lang, a relatively famous socialite who had married one of Canada’s wealthiest men in her 80’s after having been a spinster all of her life and working as his secretary for more than forty years.
Grandpa Hicks had three daughters, Joyce, Lois, and Mary: My Granny, Auntie Lo, and Aunt Mary. All three would say they had a loving home life typical of post-war prosperity in Toronto, especially because their family was well known and respected and they never wanted for anything, partially because of Aunt Edith’s inheritance.
Granny and Auntie Lo were partiers, embracing the post WWII celebratory lifestyle and enjoying daily glasses of Canadian rye whiskey and an occasional splurge on good Scotch. Auntie Lo settled down and married a French Canadian named Robert M. Desico, a WWII navy veteran and a delightfully indulgent French Canadian. He was a middle manager for Montreal’s Bulk Stevedoring company and accepted a transfer to oversee the loading and unloading of shipping containers in America’s second largest port, New Orleans, and he and Auntie Lo immigrated to the United States and bought an upper middle class home in about an hour upstream of New Orleans in the smaller port town of Baton Rouge, and they settled into the French Cajun culture of southern Louisiana and would never have children. Instead, they spent their income on golf and country club dinners and a liquor cabinet with fine bottles of wine and Scotch. They were generous and tipped graciously and were adored by children and adults in their upper middle class subdivision. If they had lived until the internet, they probably would have called their lifestyle DINKS.
Granny got drunk at a party when she was a teenager in 1955, and almost ten months later Wendy was born. Granny married Wendy’s father, a man I met once as a child but whose first name I can’t recall, and fled him and took Wendy to live with Uncle Bob and Auntie Lo in Baton Rouge. Because of a quirk in international laws, Granny technically never divorced and therefore couldn’t easily change her name, and she was a practical woman who valued simple time at home and was unencumbered by social norms, and she and Wendy kept the name Rothdram and would never bother the process of becoming American citizens or denouncing Canadian citizenship; Granny never denounced anything, and never pursued a legal divorce.
Granny moved in with Auntie Lo and Uncle Bob and soon found work as a secretary at CoPolymer, about twenty minutes north of the Baton Rouge airport at the end of I-110, a strip of industry we called Chemical Alley. She was a hard worker and self-taught typist who saved her money and bought a small, 680 square foot home by the airport with three bedrooms and two baths, and a large yard with several stately oak trees draped in Spanish moss and a small drainage creek wrapped around it. She was under the flight path, and her cabinets rattled from jet engines every 20 or 30 minutes, but she was content and proud of having bought a home as a single, uneducated immigrant in America; and she would work as a CoPolymer secretary for 30 years and retire with a gold watch commemorating her work ethic, missing work only for a brief time in 1975, when I was in the foster system and her car was side struck by, ironically, a Cajun drunk driver who mumbled his English even when sober but spoke French better than she did. By then she had learned American curse words better than any sailor and would expound on what shitty assholes drunk drivers were, and she’d follow with a string of vile and explicative words so uniquely specific to the recipient that they couldn’t deny the wisdom behind her angry words.
Otherwise, she’d live a happy life and come home from work and repose in her recliner with a bottle of Scotch and carton of Kents and her monthly Reader’s Digest books. She followed rules only so that she had nothing to worry about and could relax after working all day.
By 1971, Wendy was a hale and hearty 15 year old girl. She was petite, like Granny, and only 5’1″ tall. But whereas Granny was thin as a twig, Wendy was more full figured and athletic. She was on the swim team for Glen Oaks High School and played tennis and golf with Uncle Bob at his country club, and rode her bicycle to school and throughout the safe streets of Granny’s neighborhood. She was considered shy in school, but outside of school she laughed and danced frequently, and rode bikes and climbed trees with her friends Debbie LeBoux and Linda White. Most boys considered her “fine,” especially the boys who appreciated atypical southern girls nicknamed WAR who liked to ride bikes and climb trees and still had a subtle Canadian accent, like Granny. Wendy and Debbie would joke that Granny spelled Canada: C ’eh N ‘eh D ’eh, and Granny would laugh with them and tell them that the ’y’all” they said in Louisiana’s accent was proper second person plural, and they were smart enough to know that.
Wendy’s first serious boyfriend was 18 when she was 15, and he graduated Glen Oaks in the spring of 1971 and was drafted and shipped to the conflict in Vietnam. After he left, Wendy and Linda borrowed Uncle Bob’s fancy camera and captured a rare color photo of Wendy dancing in Granny’s back yard, just as the azelea blooms were ending their spring bloom, and the red azelea tucked above Wendy’s ear accented her long, straight strawberry blonde hair. Her hazel eyes were closed, but she was twirling with a broad smile on her face and crinkles around her eyes and she seemed as happy as a a 15 year old girl could be.
It took a while to develop that photo, and she lost track of time that summer but eventually placed the photo in an envelope to her boyfriend that said she hoped to see him as soon as he got back, but just before she sent it she learned he was shot and killed in August of 1971. Distraught and guilty for not writing him sooner, she may have had a slight nervous breakdown, and she felt ignored by Granny, who spent long days working and evenings reposing and may not have had the time and energy to see to all of Wendy’s needs, and Wendy demanded to return to Canada, where there was no draft, and imagined that her father would take care of her.
Granny was a practical woman who favored experiential learning over lectures, so she forewent her good bottles of Scotch and scrimped on meals and bought Wendy an airplane ticket to Toronto. Wendy met her dad and he greated her coldly, without a hug, and said he had a wife and four children and no room in his life for Wendy, and she returned to Baton Rouge depressed and began smoking marijuana to make going to school and being stuck indoors all day tolerable. Her mood was made worse by well-intended teachers and neighbors, believing they were being nice by asking questions typical of southerners, like “Who’s your momma?” “What does your daddy do?” “Where do y’all go to church?” Wendy was ashamed that her dad didn’t want her, and Granny hadn’t remarried and had nonuse for church. Her classmates asked similar questions, but with details they knew, like “When’s your boyfriend coming home,” and Wendy’s depression grew and she became even more reticent at school and home.
In the fall of 1971, Wendy’s junior year of high school, she turned 16 and met my dad, Edward Grady Partin Junior, a tall, strong, handsome, and intense looking 17 year old and senior at Glen Oaks with long black hair and brown eyes so dark they seemed black. He rarely smiled, and seemed angry all the time. He was reputed to be Glen Oak’s drug dealer. Though Glen Oaks was in a relatively low income area, my dad always seemed to drive nice, new cars and have abundant marijuana, and he was known to be impervious to legal prosecution because he was the son of newspapers said was the south’s most notorious and ruthless labor leader, a ‘hoodlum’ and ‘gangster,’ and president of Teamsters Local #5.
No story about my childhood would exist without discussing my grandfather and how my dad grew up with him, and to talk about my grandfather I should begin with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.
Kennedy was warned of a plot to kill him by his brother, U.S. Attorney Bobby Kennedy, and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover in November of 1963; but the president chose to proceed to Dallas as planned, and he was shot and killed as he rode in his convertible by at least one person armed with a 6.5mm sniper riffle. Less than two hours later, Dallas police arrested Lee Harvey Oswald for murder of a police officer in the minutes following the shots at Kennedy, and Kennedy died soon after and Oswald was then charged with his murder.
Two days later, Oswald was shot and killed on live television, and 110 million people had seen Jack Ruby walk through the Dallas police station and remove a .38 special revolver from his pocket and shoot Oswald in the stomach; a remarkably timed photograph of Ruby shooting Oswald being internationally known and won journalism awards.
Oswald had denied shooting Kennedy, and the arresting officers said that Oswald said he was a ”patsy,” was being set up and framed as part of a bigger plot. Ruby would alternate randomly between saying he acted out of love for Mrs. Kennedy and wanted to avenge her husband’s murderer, and that he was a part in a bigger plot; he would die in prison two years later.
The United States doesn’t try deceased people, so newly appointed president Johnson asked Chief Justice Earl Warren to oversee a post mortem investigation into Oswald.
Warren was already a household name and well respected for 40 years of service and overseeing landmark Supreme Court cases such as Roe vs Wade, Brown vs the Board of Education, and the lesser known case that established the Miranda Rights that include the right to remain silent when arrested; ironically, what Oswald and Ruby said was held against them in the Warren Report.
Ten months after Kennedy died, the 888 page Warren Report concluded that ”Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone when he shot and killed President John F Kennedy.” To this day, most Americans believe Kennedy was killed as part of a bigger plot, a conspiracy that remains unsolved. They may be right.
One year before Kennedy was shot and killed, an FBI report overseen by Hoover said that Teamster president Jimmy Hoffa and my grandfather, who was president of the local Teamster office in Baton Rouge, had plotted to kill Bobby Kennedy by finding someone to shoot him with a sniper rife “in his convertible” as he rode through ”a southern town,” and that anyone used to kill him could never be traced back to the Teamsters. But, that report was presumably hidden from the Warren commission, because it isn’t mentioned in the Warren Report.
A year later, in 1964, my grandfather became nationally famous and labeled as an All American hero for helping Bobby Kennedy send Jimmy Hoffa to prison by spying on and testifying against Hoffa.
In Hoffa’s authorized biography, published just before he disappeared in 1975, he had a way with words and described my grandfather concisely: “Edward Grady Partin was a big, rough man who could charm a snake off a rock.” Hoffa was sentenced to eight years in federal prison based solely on my grandfather’s testimony; another three years were added later. For many years, my grandfather was something of a national celebrity, and he’s been portrayed by physically large and charismatic men in major films for decades.
My grandfather, whom everyone in Baton Rouge called Big Daddy, was a physically intimidating and shockingly handsome man with blonde hair and sky blue eyes and a subtle and perpetual smile, and he had a southern drawl and charming way of speaking that led to people trusting him. Almost all books about Hoffa comment on his charm and accent, and in movies like 1983’s Blood Feud and 2019’s The Irishman he’d be portrayed by big, handsome, men, Brian Dennehy and Craig Vincent, though only Dennehey replicated his smile and drawl with some accuracy. Records of Big Daddy’s history have disappeared, but his background was captured in the 1972 book “The Fall and Rise of Jimmy Hoffa,” by former FBI agent and head of the Get Hoffa Task Force, Walter Sheridan, who was by then a well respected NBC news journalist; though he made a few errors that weren’t caught by his publisher.
“Partin, like Hoffa, had come up the hard way. While Hoffa was building his power base in Detroit during the early forties, Partin was drifting around the country getting in and out of trouble with the law. When he was seventeen he received a bad conduct discharge from the Marine Corps in the state of Washington for stealing a watch. [That wasn’t true: he punched a captain and was discharged for assaulting an officer, though I heard he removed the unconscious captain’s watch. JiP] One month later he was charged in Roseburg, Oregon, for car theft. The case was dismissed with the stipulation that Partin return to his home in Natchez, Mississippi. Two years later Partin was back on the West Coast where he pleaded guilty to second degree burglary. He served three yeas in the Washington State Reformatory and was parolled in February, 1947. [Hoffa claimed Big Daddy had escaped from the Washington prison twice; he never admitted either version, and those records have disappeared. JiP] One year later, back in Mississippi, Partin was again in trouble and served ninety days on a plea to a charge of petit larceny. Then he decided to settle down. He joined the Teamsters Union, went to work, and married a quiet, attractive Baton Rouge girl. [That wasn’t true: my grandmother was from Spring Hill, near Texarkana, and moved to Baton Rouge to join Big Daddy after the local trucking union was absorbed by Hoffa’s international Teamsters; but, most people agreed that she was as gorgeous as a movie. JiP] In 1952 he was elected to the top post in Local 5 in Baton Rouge. When Hoffa pushed his sphere of influence into Louisiana, Partin joined forces and helped to forcibly install Hoffa’s man, Chuck Winters from Chicago, as the head of the Teamsters in New Orleans.”
Walter’s 1972 book is as massive as Big Daddy was, and rarely a dozen pages go by without Walter mentioning my family and what was happening in the years that my dad was a teenager. Because of Walter and many violations of the United States Constitution, much of my family’s early history and most of mine has been recorded by the most advanced technology possible, incrementally becoming less noticeable and more inoculant until this day.
Big Daddy had met Norma Jean, whom everyone called Momma Jean, when he was a 26 year old up-and-coming union leader and she was an 18 year old just out of high school. She thought he was handsome and charming and would make a good husband and father, and six weeks later they were married and began having their five children. She didn’t know he was already married to two women and had children with them, nor did she know his criminal history and that he had been dishonorably discharged from the marines. She began to learn about him and suspect that he was involved with the mafia and began to worry for her children’s safety. She was horrified to learn he had raped a young African American girl in his hometown of Woodville, Mississippi, and had only avoided jail because one of the jurors said, “Ain’t no white man deserve to go to jail for anythin’ he did to a black girl,” a trial that would be downplayed in a 1964 Life magazine feature article about my family that claimed Big Daddy was an All American hero, a feature-length and in-depth look into his life, though Momma Jean was remarkably missing from all the photos of Big Daddy and his five children, my three aunts and uncle and dad.
Mamma Jean had fled Big Daddy in 1962 and took their children with them. She hid them in hunting and fishing camps throughout Louisiana and Texas with her aunts and uncles that Big Daddy and his Teamsters may not have known about, or at least not that they had camps in False River and the Atchafalaya Basin, and when my dad was a boy he alternated between different camps until 1964, when Big Daddy was in a Baton Rouge jail for two different charges – kidnapping the children of a fellow teamster who had lost them in the Baton Rouge custody court, and manslaughter in Mississippi for a hit and run driving incident – and he was at least ten years in federal prison. But, 48 hours later, U.S. Attorney General Bobby Kennedy freed him in exchange for infiltrating Hoffa’s inner circle and looking for evidence that would finally convict Hoffa after almost two decades and millions of taxpayer dollars having gone to waste in Bobby’s pursuit of Hoffa, coined The Blood Feud in newspapers throughout the 50’s and 60’s.
Walter Sheridan, a former advisor on then Senator John F. Kennedy’s labor-fraud committee and leader in Kennedy’s successful presidential bid, worked for Bobby after Johnny appointed him US Attorney General, and Walter was made head of the FBI’s Get Hoffa Task Force and had an almost unlimited budget and all the resources the Kennedy’s could provide. He found Momma Jean despite her having hidden and keeping her children’s locations secret, and convinced her to reunite her children and delay her divorce so that Big Daddy could be portrayed as an honest man.
Part of the deal Walter offered was that the federal government would buy Mamma Jean a house and pay her the same monthly living wage she would possibly earn from alimony, and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover personally guaranteed her safety and assigned federal agents to protect her against probable retaliation by Hoffa and the Teamsters; our family would become known as America’s first family of “paid informants,” which, unlike a witness protection program, is kept public and identities aren’t hidden. Bobby and Hoover then oversaw changing Big Daddy’s history and ensured the Partin family was showcased in media as a family man and hard working union leader who may have had a few scrapes with the law – it was a rough time in a rough industry – but was a patriot who cared more about people than arbitrary rules or aliances.
Big Daddy was so charming that the jury at Hoffa’s trial believed him more than Hoffa, who at the time was said to be the most famous man in America not a Kennedy, and Hoffa was sentenced to prison solely based on Big Daddy’s testimony after only four hours of deliberation, knowing that he testified in exchange for getting out of jail and having Momma Jean and his children cared for; that was an obvious defense for Hoffa’s attorneys, who were veteran defenders of high profile celebrities and low profile mafia leaders.
Mama Jean refused to testify, citing the fifth amendment and commonly known wisdom in her circle of associates that wives could not be legally requires to testify against husbands. She retained her right to remain silent until just before her death almost 40 years later.
Mamma Jean was a Christian who adamantly adhered to her beliefs and would never lie, and because the United States constitution allows a spouse to remain silent and not testify against their husband or wife, Mamma Jean simply avoided all questions about Big Daddy until after he died, which is why she’s not in any of the media showcasing Big Daddy’s All American family values. She accepted Bobby’s money and house and opened a home hair salon and tried to care for her five children as a single mother, and for years would answer probing questions in southern culture simply by saying that the Lord works in mysterious ways, which few of the people attending her church or the ladies visiting her home hair salon could deny.
Jimmy Hoffa summarized the years surrounding my grandparents Kennedy-funded reunification well in Hoffa, The Real Story:
“So this was the backbiting bastard who was the government’s chief witness against me, the ‘All-American boy with whose help they were going to put me away.”
Again, Hoffa was right about Big Daddy, and his sarcasm about Big Daddy’s portrayal in the media, especially Life, belied a deep frustration at government and the media that had probably been building for decades. I would be, too, if I knew I was being framed for a crime I probably didn’t commit by the people supposedly advocating for American justice; by definition, that was Bobby’s role as Attorney General.
Big Daddy’s legal immunity, and therefore my dad’s legal immunity, were so overt that Chief Justice Earl Warren ranted about it in his comments for the supreme court case Hoffa vs. The United States. Warren was already a household name, having just authored the Warren Report on President Kennedy’s assassination, which was international news and daily debate among almost everyone on Earth. For almost 40 years Warren was known as practical and impartial to all but the constitution, and he had overseen landmark supreme court cases like Roe vs. Wade, Brown vs. The Board of Education, and the case that gave us Miranda Rights.
I imagine Warren as a wise elderly gentleman and a fanatic in love with the United States Constitution. He tried to inform voters that the Supreme Court only upheld interpretations of words that their elected officials approved and that their president endorsed. He, like all judges, were merely interpreters of the law, and that the Supreme Court should be unbiased and honoring nothing but the United States constitution and amendments.
Warren was the only one of nine supreme court judges to vote against using Big Daddy’s testimony to prosecute Hoffa, and. like Judge JJ Lottingger in my court report, Warren documented his thoughts and reasoning for his decision and permanently attached it to court records so that prosperity could ponder what happened. In my mind, he tells us a lot about what happened that, somehow, I always felt that the thousands of books on Hoffa and Kennedy seem to keep overlooking.
Here, Edward Partin, a jailbird languishing in a Louisiana jail under indictments for such state and federal crimes as embezzlement, kidnapping, and manslaughter (and soon to be charged with perjury and assault), contacted federal authorities and told them he was willing to become, and would be useful as, an informer against Hoffa, who was then about to be tried in the Test Fleet case. A motive for his doing this is immediately apparent — namely, his strong desire to work his way out of jail and out of his various legal entanglements with the State and Federal Governments. And it is interesting to note that, if this was his motive, he has been uniquely successful in satisfying it. In the four years since he first volunteered to be an informer against Hoffa he has not been prosecuted on any of the serious federal charges for which he was at that time jailed, and the state charges have apparently vanished into thin air.
This type of informer and the uses to which he was put in this case evidence a serious potential for undermining the integrity of the truthfinding process in the federal courts. Given the incentives and background of Partin, no conviction should be allowed to stand when based heavily on his testimony. And that is exactly the quicksand upon which these convictions rest, because, without Partin, who was the principal government witness, there would probably have been no convictions here.
Here, the Government reaches into the jailhouse to employ a man who was himself facing indictments far more serious (and later including one for perjury) than the one confronting the man against whom he offered to inform. It employed him not for the purpose of testifying to something that had already happened, but rather for the purpose of infiltration to see if crimes would in the future be committed. The Government, in its zeal, even assisted him in gaining a position from which he could be a witness to the confidential relationship of attorney and client engaged in the preparation of a criminal defense. And, for the dubious evidence thus obtained, the Government paid an enormous price.
Warren even mentions Mamma Jean, briefly, when he describes how Big Daddy infiltrated Hoffa’s inner circle in the Test Fleet case being tried in Nashville, Tennessee.
Upon his arrival in Nashville, Partin manifested his “friendship” and made himself useful to Hoffa, thereby worming his way into Hoffa’s hotel suite and becoming part and parcel of Hoffa’s entourage. As the “faithful” servant and factotum of the defense camp which he became, he was in a position to overhear conversations not directed to him, many of which were between attorneys and either their client or prospective defense witnesses. Pursuant to the general instructions he received from federal authorities to report “any attempts at witness intimidation or tampering with the jury,” “anything illegal,” or even “anything of interest,” Partin became the equivalent of a bugging device which moved with Hoffa wherever he went. Everything Partin saw or heard was reported to federal authorities, and much of it was ultimately the subject matter of his testimony in this case. For his services, he was well paid by the Government, both through devious and secret support payments to his wife and, it may be inferred, by executed promises not to pursue the indictments under which he was charged at the time he became an informer.
Warren was the only one of nine supreme court justices to deny Big Daddy’s testimony, saying:
I cannot agree that what happened in this case is in keeping with the standards of justice in our federal system, and I must, therefore, dissent.
That supreme court case was used a a precedent for others, and to this day is the United States standard for presidential freedoms that seem to defy the fourth amendment, including modern bugging methods and the recording of millions of phone calls after 9/11; all based on a jury believing Big Daddy’s word.
Apparently, Big Daddy was so charming that even teams of mob lawyers and supreme court justices believed him despite evidence that he had perjured before, was probably perjuring then, and was being indicted for perjury and would soon likely perjure again. No one has reported why Warren was the only one of nine United States supreme court justices to dissent; his memoirs didn’t elucidate anyone.
Though Warren was well respected, his dissent didn’t reverse the jury’s verdict, and Hoffa was sentenced to eleven years in prison based solely on Big Daddy’s testimony that Hoffa had suggested Big Daddy bribe a juror in the Test Fleet case with $20,000 from Hoffa’s petty cash box; the juror never saw the money, and no other witnesses were provided, and Hoffa went to federal prison for the first time after almost two decades of prosecution from the Get-Hoffa Task Force.
For Hoffa to be free, Big Daddy would have to be alive and recant his testimony and admit that he bore false witness and committed perjury, which would lead him to his own prison sentence. Teamsters loyal to Hoffa would have to threaten Big Daddy or my family to get him to recant and risk prison. He didn’t, and Hoffa implied to New Orleans mafia boss Carlos Marcello and Miami boss and Cuban exhile Carlos Terriffante Junior that their debts would be forgiven in Big Daddy recanted; each owed Hoffa approximately $18 Million that he had lent them and Los Vegas mafia bosses to build Vegas casinos and fund other projects, all money from the unregulated Teamster pension fund that the Kennedy’s had been trying to reign in for decades.
At first, the mafia tried to bribe Big Daddy and they made him an offer that he refused, and in a 1968 expose on the mafia, which was a new concept in America back then, Life magazine reported that Marcello offered Big Daddy $1 Million to recant, and several books quote that and ignorantly say that it was unlikely, because the mafia isn’t in the business of giving away money when they could just kill someone. But few people realized how the mafia had become indebted to Hoffa, and even one of Hoffa’s attorneys, Frank Magono, who had tried to discredit my grandfather and who also represented mob bosses including Carlos Marcello, wrote in 1994 memoir, “Mob Lawyer,” that Hoffa said, ”Frank, maybe Carlos has somebody who can talk to the son-of-a-bitch,” and yet Frank apparently didn’t know of Carlos’s debt to Hoffa, and he denied that any of his clients would have given away money when they could simply have someone killed.
Most people don’t know mafia code, and not all words are code. An example is the memoir “I Heard You Paint Houses” by a mafia hitman named Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran made into a 2019 film about Hoffa’s 1975 disappearance: It begins with Hoffa calling Frank and saying, “I heard you paint houses,” meaning he heard Frank would put a bullet in someone’s head and paint the walls with their brains and blood. Simply using Carlos’s name was an implied threat, because their relationships were complex and better off not showcased, and the only reason to call a mob boss by their first name would be to imply that what you had to say was important, and Hoffa had been expecting Bobby’s secret witness for days, knowing he wouldn’t have pushed such a simple case forward and brought his Get-Hoffa team to a small courtroom in Tennessee without something powerful waiting, and as soon as Big Daddy stood up Hoffa muttered, “Damn. It’s Partin,” and his entourage signaled in no uncertain terms that a hit was to be placed on Big Daddy, flicking their thumbs against their teeth and saying they’d appreciate talking to him in private later. Several would mention that moment in no uncertain terms in their own memoirs, like Chucky O’Brien saying he regretted not killing Partin almost immediately after he turned on Hoffa.
Organized crime was a new concept back then, and most journalists and authors only have part of the big picture, and few new about the Teamster pension fund and the hundreds of millions of dollars owed to Hoffa while he was in prison, nor did they know he had implied foregiveness to all should Big Daddy recant, not unlike he had implied foregiveness if Bobby or Johnny Kennedy disappeared, so most journalists and authors would dismiss that Life story as fake news rather than a prudent business deal; $1 Million to get Big Daddy to recant would be a wise way to eliminate $18 Million in debt.
After the Life article, Marcello and Trafficante may have realized that Big Daddy wouldn’t be bribed. He didn’t need more money, and he had begun taking over Teamster contracts that Hoffa used to handle. The mafia may have realized Big Daddy could be worse than Hoffa, or they may have grown tired of his refusing offers, and the mafia bosses acted like Hoffa and implied to small-time crooks, hoodlums, gangsters, and all sorts of words that time period used to convey a type of character likely indebted to mafia leaders and without much to loose, and many people began trying to kill Big Daddy.
I believe the logic was that the mafia realized that Big Daddy couldn’t be bribed or threatened and that they would be better off if Hoffa remained in prison and was unable to demand his money back, and the best way to keep Hoffa in prison was to ensure Big Daddy couldn’t change his mind and recant his testimony, and the best way to silence Ed Partin was to kill him. The attacks increased, and Big Daddy was shot and several of my family member’s homes were blown up and burnt to the ground, and Hoover increased the number of federal marshalls protecting the Partins and Big Daddy began traveling with an entourage of bodyguards comprised of big, rough Baton Rouge Teamsters and former LSU football players as bodyguards, and was as famous in Louisiana as Hoffa had been nationally.
Hoffa realized that Partin wouldn’t recant, so in 1971, a few months before my dad met my mother, he enlisted the help of newly elected President Richard Nixon and Nixon offered Big Daddy a presidential pardon if he recanted. Nixon owed Hoffa because even from prison the Teamster president had given millions of dollars to Nixon’s campaign against Johnson, and Hoffa’s public endorsement led to millions of loyal fans voting for Nixon, and pardoning Partin was a small price to pay for the presidency.
Nixon sent America’s most famous war hero, Audie Murphy, to negotiate with Big Daddy. For reasons no one alive knows, Audie knew both Hoffa and Big Faddy, and I heard that he viewed my grandfather as a father figure.
In WWII, Audie had earned every medal the United States could give and was the star of almost forty films, many funded by the Teamster pension fund. He had 278 confirmed kills and was respected by even the most intimidating of mafia hitmen, and he knew Hoffa and Big Daddy well. He died in a plane crash with four other passengers the day after meeting with Big Daddy in Baton Rouge. My grandfather was the main suspect, and though later evidence showed that Audie’s plane crash was an accident, few people doubted that Big Daddy wouldn’t have orchestrated the death of an airplane full of people if it helped him stay in power, and no one thought he’d be intimidated by someone with 278 confirmed kills; no one had ever seen him scared, except perhaps his cellmate when Big Daddy was trapped indoors and agreed to turn against Hoffa in exchange for his freedom.
Most of that would have been public knowledge, and and I assume Judge Lottingger, who had 30 years of respected service in Louisiana legislative courts before taking over my case, would have known my Partin history.
But, the chief justice of the supreme court was surprised by my family’s protection, then it’s unlikely that any Louisiana judge would have had power to prosecute my family, and that’s how my dad became Glen Oaks’s drug dealer, immune from prosecution.
My dad’s angry countenance may be explained by his rough childhood. Like Wendy, he rebelled against his single mother and had moved in with Big Daddy’s mother, my Grandma Foster, who coincidentally lived near the Baton Rouge airport and was only a short bike ride from Granny’s house.
Also like Wendy, he never discussed his family or the strife and angst and anger he felt, and when they met he smiled because he liked beimg around her and he said she was fine, and she became smitten by the tall, dark, rebel. They would sneak out of their homes at night and meet and smoke his homegrown stuff and sip bottles of wine or glasses of Scotch snuck from Granny’s abundantly stocked liquor cabinet that didn’t rattle when Wendy gently opened them on her way to meet my dad; I don’t know why my dad told Judge Lottingger that he had never seen Wendy drink.
In the warm climate of the south, they could sneak out of Granny and Grandma Foster’s houses and walk the safe streets and play in nearby woods or at friend’s houses a short drive away. In January of 1972, Wendy and my dad drank her wine and smoked his stuff and she lost her virginity to him. She would recall the vinyl record they were listening too, Led Zepplin’s new Led Zeplin IV album, and the song “Going to California” had prophetic lyrics about why Wendy abandoned me to drive to California with a man she just met.
Spend my days with a woman unkind
Smoked my stuff and drank all my wine
Made up my mind, make a new start,
Goin’ to California with an achin’ in my heart
Someone told me there’s a girl out there
With love in her eyes and flowers in her hair
She became pregnant and didn’t tell Granny and she didn’t have money for an abortion, and my dad insisted on getting married. He said that he wouldn’t be like his father, who had been an adulterer with multiple families and had, my dad felt, abandoned him and his siblings when they were younger; though those records have long since disappeared. They dropped out of school and eloped an hour away to Mississippi, where my dad still had family, because Mississippi state law allowed a 16 year old girl to marry without parental consent. I was born nine months later, as Judge JJ Lottingger wrote in my court reports. Wendy abandoned me once as an infant, then again a few months later, when “She heard of a man who wanted someone to share expenses on a trip to California, so she quit her job and with her last wages left with him.” She said she saw his handwritten note on a coffee shop wall and acted impulsively, intemperently, and didn’t pick me up from daycare.
What’s not on record is that my dad had also abandoned us, or at least Wendy felt he had. He and a few of his friends had driven to Miami on motorcycles and took a boat to an island to buy large quantities of drugs wholesale.
People would argue which island; some said Jamaica, some said Puerto Rico, and some believed it was Cuba, though that was doubted because of President Kennedy’s newly enacted embargo on the small communist country. But, my grandfather had many contacts in Miami and the Carribbean, which all used the port of New Orleans and dealt with Teamsters. He knew the Peurto Rican Teamster leader Frank Chavez (though Chavez was shot and killed in 1967), and he had worked with Miama mafia boss and Cuban exhile Santos Traffacante, and the Cuban president Fidel Castro, shipping guns out of the port of New Orleans to Las Vegas through Baton Rouge via Interstate 10. My dad could have reached any island he wanted, especially having the same name as my grandfather.
Regardless of hersay on which island they went to buy drugs (court records would say he was caught with American prescription opioids), what’s not debated is that my dad and his friends were gone several weeks and Wendy felt abandoned, scared, and confused, and she left for California with an achin’ in her heart. She would later joke that she was born WAR, and marrying a Partin WARP’ed her mind.
I was the last baby at the daycare center that evening, and they were frantically calling Wendy’s emergency contact list. Wendy was estranged from Granny and hadn’t added her phone number, and Auntie Lo and Uncle Bob were alcoholics too drunk by 5pm to answer the phone much less drive all the way to north Baton Rouge to get me. They finally reached Wendy’s best friend from high school, Linda White, and she told her father, Ed White, and he dropped what he was doing and rushed to get me.
A few weeks later, both Wendy and my dad returned to Baton Rouge, but by then the trial judge mentioned in my court reports had already removed me from their custody and granted guardianship to Mr. and Mrs. Ed White. Four years later, as my court records state, that ex parte decision was overturn by Judge Lottingger.
Perhaps he realized that my family’s federal prosecution was over, because he took over my case in the late summer of 1975, just after President Nixon pardoned Jimmy Hoffa and the former teamster leader famously vanished from a Detroit parking lot on July 30th, 1975.
By my 1976 court date, Hoffa was presumed dead and Big Daddy had been arrested for racketerring and embezzlement, and had been found guilty of stealing $450,000 from the Local #5 safe, though that safe was discovered in a murky Baton Rouge river and the two witnesses were found beaten so badly that one died in the hospital and the other refused to testify. He was out of jail, but facing punishment for his crimes for the first time in almost fifteen years, and it’s likely that Lottingger was brave enough to risk acting in my best welfare, especially knowing that the reign of Partins in Louisiana was at an end.
But, not even the most honorable judges have access to all information, and I don’t believe Lottingger knew much about Mr. and Mrs. White, and whether or not they had my welfare in mind, too.
Many years later in my life, when I’d be laughing with friends around a campfire or swapping stories with them over coffee or beers, I’d share bits and pieces of my family history and refer to the Whites as my first foster family. I always felt awkward having so much of my life publicly available and I didn’t want people digging deeper; but, among friends, I know it’s a remarkable story that few people have heard.
To save an uninterested reader time, most of what I recall about my family is already written in Hoffa vs the United States, The Warren Report, The JFK Assassination Report, Hoffa on Hoffa, The Fall and Rise of Jimmy Hoffa, and From My Brother’s Shadow; albeit all are muddled with a massive amount of other information. But most people with a computer can download those records and isolate the relevant parts by searching for pages containing combinations of the names Partin, Hoffa, Kennedy, Marcello, or Traficante (1979 congressional report on JFK’s assassination reversed the Warren Report and said that Kennedy was probably killed by a conspiracy likely orchestrated by Hoffa, Marcello, or Trafficante; all associates of Partin). Everything about Edward Grady Partin is already there, and he’s a linchpin linking different parts of a big machine and links many stories together.
But, I won’t list all the links, and the rest of this book is only my perspective as a kidnin the 70’s and 80’s, and just a small part in his story.
For now, I think it’s safe to assume that in 1972 Wendy was a scared teenage girl with a new baby. She must have, as my court records state, felt scared and confused when she abandoned me and went to California.
From my perspective, all of that’s ancient history, and I thank God or good luck or the force of nature that allowed the trial judge place me with Mr. White per ex parte error. Regardless of the legality of the reason, my first memories of my Partin family are from when I was with Ed White, and my version of his story begins in the next chapter.
Go to the Table of Contents