Cook County Judge Susan McDunn has had a controversial career with allegations from anti-gay bias to sheer incompetence. She is now adding suggestions of paranoia after appearing in federal court demanding to know what secret and sealed cases have been brought against her — despite the fact that no one has any evidence of such cases existing. Yet, McDunn insists “I’m not paranoid.” She could add that “even if I am paranoid it doesn’t mean my spiritual adviser is not after me.”
McDunn, 57, appeared before Federal Judge Amy St. Eve on an “emergency” matter, announcing that she was “almost certain there is a case or more pending in this court under seal involving claims that I have — that I have against people.” St. Eve tried to get McDunn to explain why she believes that there are secret lawsuits against her. McDunn simply assured her that she has all the evidence that she needs:
“I have a massive amount of evidence regarding that, but it’s in small pieces because basically I’ve been locked out of my own life because of these secret proceedings . . . Many people know about these cases . . . I have many pieces of evidence to know that. But people are lying to me about the existence of the cases and saying they don’t know anything about them. . . . But . . . I know the cases exist . . . I am being persecuted extensively by many people in many ways. I have many claims of many types against many potential defendants, including very powerful people in this city.”
Not surprisingly, St. Eve said that that was not enough, even for a fellow judge.
Two days later, McDunn went to the courtroom of Chief Federal Court Judge James F. Holderman claiming that her “life is being ruined” by secret lawsuits involving a variety of high-profile tormentors from former Mayor Richard M. Daley, Ald. Ed Burke (14th) to Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to leading figures in the Archdiocese of Chicago. McDunn presented a motion alleging that either the attorney, her doctor or her “spiritual advisor” had filed or helped file the secret cases. While she could not identify which filed the action, she wanted to intervene in the case. Holderman said he checked with the clerk and no such cases were found. However, McDunn assured him, “I’m not paranoid.”
Holderman told her he’d asked the clerk’s office to find the mystery sealed cases McDunn was referring to, but “there is no case” — a statement he repeated to her eight times during the short hearing, according to a transcript.
McDunn was undeterred: “I’m a judge — I know that cases are sometimes filed but the parties involved are not given notice.”
McDunn has been previously the subject of great controversy. She has been deemed incompetent in the past by the Bar and moved from court to court due to her alleged lack of knowledge and judicial temperament. In one such move, she was put in charge of adoptions and almost immediately caused an outrage over her treatment to two cases involving lesbian parents, including one who was the biological mother of the child. McDunn held up the adoption and was accused of giving the names of the parties to a conservative group that opposes same-sex adoptions. She wanted the group to be the “secondary guardian” of the children. She was removed from the case and the presiding judge approved the adoptions.
She was then sent to traffic court despite her reputation for abusive treatment of litigants and lawyers. She then tried to issue orders putting herself back on the adoption court but was blocked by the Appellate Court which described her conduct as causing “inexcusable injustice.” She was removed from even the traffic court and put on a paper-pushing job.
She now joins Judge Cynthia Brim who has removed by the bench after being arrested for shoving a sheriff deputy and throwing keys at him. Brim was previously included in judges investigated for leaving their job early each day.
As for McDunn, she is not going quietly into that night. “I’m a completely healthy person — mentally, spiritually and physically.” Perhaps, but not quite right judicially.