But then came the killing shot that was to nail me to the cross.
Edward Grady Partin.
And Life magazine once again was Robert Kenedy’s tool. He figured that, at long last, he was going to dust my ass and he wanted to set the public up to see what a great man he was in getting Hoffa.
Life quoted Walter Sheridan, head of the Get-Hoffa Squad, that Partin was virtually the all-American boy even though he had been in jail “because of a minor domestic problem.”– Jimmy Hoffa
“Life is pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we will be able to treat life as art.”― Maya Angelou
Most of my family history is easily found online. My grandfather, Edward Grady Partin Senior, is famous as the Baton Rouge Teamster leader whose surprise testimony convicted Jimmy Hoffa of jury tampering and sent him to prison. National media had covered my grandfather’s saga ever since Hoffa’s 1964 trial.
My grandfather’s history at that time is concisely summarized by Walter Sheridan, who is perhaps Ed Partin’s greatest advocate, who had directed Bobby Kennedy and the FBI’s “Get Hoffa Task Force” for about a decade in a daily publicized “Blood Feud” between the Kennedys and Hoffa. Walter had worked on then Senator John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign, and would lead Senator Bobby Kennedy’s 1968 presidential bid, just before Bobby was assassinated. He became a nationally recognized NBC news correspondent, and on the month of my birth in 1972 he published the most thorough and extensively documented book on the government’s prosecution of Jimmy Hoffa yet, “The Fall and Rise of Jimmy Hoffa.” Approximately 300 names are referenced, and the only character described in more detail than Hoffa is Edward Grady Partin Senior. Bobby Kennedy had bet his reputation and therefore his presidential bid on America believing my grandfather’s testimony against Jimmy Hoffa.
Walter, trying to be objective and yet still biased, couldn’t gloss over what many people already knew or assumed about Edward Partin, and therefore couldn’t be swept under the rug or whitewashed.
“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.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. 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. 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 made a lot of mistakes in that paragraph; if you’re interested, I’ll share those details here and there passim in the next few chapters.
As soon as Hoffa was convicted in 1964, Bobby, as ranted about in “Hoffa on Hoffa,” influenced national media to portray Ed Partin as an All American Hero. Like many times throughout history, what the public believed was unrelated to the facts, and only a few people see through the charade and are disturbed watching other people believe it. In particular to my grandfather, Chief Justice Earl Warren was one of the people perplexed about how the American system allowed my grandfather’s word to send someone to prison. Warren was one of America’s most well known and respected supreme court justices, famous for having, as Chief Justice, overseen Roe vs. Wade, Brown vs The Board of Education, and the case that led to Miranda Rights; and, of course, the 888 page Warren Report that inaccurately claimed, on many levels, that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone when he shot and killed President John F. Kennedy. In 1966’s Hoffa vs. The United States, Warren wrote a long missive about my grandfather and his threat to the American judicial system, saying things like:
“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. Shortly after Partin made contact with the federal authorities and told them of his position in the Baton Rouge Local of the Teamsters Union and of his acquaintance with Hoffa, his bail was suddenly reduced from $50,000 to $5,000 and he was released from jail,”
Earl Warren wasn’t the only person perplexed by Big Daddy’s vanishing criminal history. Jimmy Hoffa had hundreds of millions of dollars at his disposal, and he hired the best lawyers possible to discredit Big Daddy, men who defended high profile cases and mafia bosses and knew how to find information and intimidate witnesses, yet even they found nothing in the years of appeals between Big Daddy’s 1964 testimony. Their comments about Ed Partin in all of their books ooze frustration; and, at the same time, admiration. They were the best of the best at hiding and finding records, and they were stumped by whatever force was behind Partin.
Warren summarized Hoffa’s attorneys efforts in Hoffa vs The United States:
“Partin underwent cross-examination for an entire week. The defense was afforded wide latitude to probe Partin’s background, character, and ties to the authorities; it was permitted to explore matters that are normally excludable, for example, whether Partin had been charged with a crime in 1942, even though that charge had never been prosecuted.”
My grandfather’s records continued to disappear, and as recently as 2005, fifteen years after his death, men claiming to be FBI agents raided the Baton Rouge police station and removed all records of Edward Partin; the FBI denied knowledge, and the records have never been reported on again.
In 1966, Warren had concluded:
“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.
In 1992, President Bill Clinton released the first part of the 1979 JFK Assassination Report to the public (it had remained classified despite the 1976 Freedom of Information Act) and the massive collection of previously unknown information included a 1962 FBI report about my grandfather and Jimmy Hoffa plotting to kill Bobby Kennedy – the basis of the film The Blood Feud – and implied that my grandfather may have been involved in President Kennedy’s 1963 assassination. Ever since 1992, I’ve pondered why the chief justice of the U.S. supreme court was, probably, denied access to critical information about the Kennedy assassination and the imprisonment of an American citizen, and why American’s continue to be influenced by biased media.
My grandfather may, as they say, but much less information is available online about my father, Edward Grady Partin Junior, and he’s obviously much more closely related to me and when I will enter the story in. 1972. Today, a thorough internet search reveals that my father is currently a public defense attorney in Baton Rouge, and that he has a long and exhaustive list of irresponsible criminal behavior dating back to around the time of my conception. He was arrested three times for marijuna possession in the early 80’s, and went to federal prison in 1986 for “cultivation of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.” He got out of prison and earned his GED and a dual degree in History and Political Science and graduated from law school, and his lawsuits against the states of Arkansas and Louisiana are available in court records from the 1990’s. No one denied that he had a lifelong history irresponsible, unwise, or mindless behavior; contrasted with extreme intelligence and a strong will to do the right thing, which, to him, is focused around a fair trial according to the U.S. Constitution. Few people probably realize his history, and therefore why he’d be anti-system and yet use the system to effectively uphold the law, whatever the law is.
No one I know disputes that assessment of my father.
Even less is online about my mother. Her history would have been unknown if not for two events, her DUI in January of 2018 and her death a few months later.
Wendy Rothdram Partin, a resident of St. Francisville, LA, passed way on Friday, April 5th, 2019 at the age of 63. Wendy attended Glenoaks High School in Baton Rouge, LA, and retired from Exxon Mobil. She is survived by her son, Jason Ian Partin, of San Diego, CA. She was preceded in death by her mother, Joyce Rothdram, and her aunt and uncle, Lois and Robert Desico, all of Baton Rouge, LA. During her retirement, she became a master gardener and enjoyed helping people with their lawns. She enjoyed cooking, and took food to anyone she knew who was ill or grieving. Wendy loved animals, and worked with local shelters to foster dogs until they found permanent homes. She passed away unexpectedly from liver failure. In lieu of gifts or a service, please spend time sharing what you love with your neighbor, listen to what they love, and help each other.– The Baton Rouge Advocate
As for me, my early history is already online, because Wendy divorced my dad and those records from the 1970’s became public for reasons I don’t understand. When I was conceived in 1971, my dad was a rebellious 17 year old and my mother was a depressed 16 year old. He was a senior at Glen Oaks High School in Baton Rouge, near the airport, and she was a junior. She lost her virginity to him, and within three weeks they had dropped out of school and eloped to Mississippi where it was legal for kids to marry without parental consent. They returned to Baton Rouge and lived in one of Big Daddy’s homes near the Achafalaya Basin. I was born in 1972, and almost immediately the news began reporting that my grandfather had stolen $450,000 from the Baton Rouge Teamsters, and the 600 pound safe had been found in a murky river near our home; the only two witnesses were discovered beaten and bloody, and the survivor refused to testify. My dad left the country to buy drugs wholesale, and Wendy had a nervous breakdown and saw a handwritten note on a cafe wall asking for a driving partner to California, and she called him and they abandoned me at a daycare center and went to California.
Ed White, the custodian at Glen Oaks High School, who knew Wendy because his daughter was in school with her, responded to the daycare center’s quandary about what to do with me, and he took me home and cared for me as if I were his son. Soon after, the judge in East Baton Rouge Parish’s family court removed me from my parent’s custody and awarded my guardianship to Mr. and Mrs. Ed White. Wendy returned on her own, and spent six years fighting the courts and the Partins to regain custody of me; that’s where my online records begin in Partin vs. Partin of the 19th Judicial Court of East Baton Rouge Parish in September of 1976:
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.
As I transitioned from Mr. and Mrs. White to Wendy, I began to learn about my mother and her family, and my dad and his family. Over time, this helped me understand why my mother would abandon me, or why some mothers would take their children from their father without going to court. And, in hindsight, that was when Jimmy Hoffa famously vanished from a Detroit parking lot and when my family’s protected status probably ended, and I believe that’s why Judge Lottinnger reversed the deceased trial judge’s decision and removed me from the Whites and granted my custody back to Wendy. I had already met most of my Partin family by then, because of weekend visits granted to my dad by Ed White, and over the next forty years I began learning more about them and, of course, my mother. For many reasons, I cried when I wrote her obituary; it’s difficult to summarize a complex life story concisely.
This is a work in progress.