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.
32 thoughts on “Illinois Judge Makes Bizarre Appearances In Federal Court Demanding To Intervene In Secret Cases By Her Lawyer, Doctor, or “Spiritual Adviser””
I happened to be in this courtroom for another case and witnessed the whole exchange. I’m no mental health professional, but Judge McDunn did indeed seem emotionally troubled and paranoid. It was a sad scene.
What lottakatz, bettykath and JCTheBigTree said.
There are some unbelievably crazy things going on in this country of ours — things that are inherently unbelievable, but true. (Thanks for the Morpheus quote, lottakatz.)
JCTheBigTree, yes, I’ve seen that movie, many of them.
bettykath: “…isn’t it just possible that there are some sealed and/or secret cases with her as the main subject?”
The problem with this case is, as bettykath posits, that while McDunn seems to be mentally ill that if there are sealed indictments against her, her fellow judges would be obligated to lie about them. If she’s ill and the secret cases are not real I hope she gets some help.
Morpheus: “Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.”
She has guilt overwhelming her. It is the devil tormenting her soul.
Why was she a judge for so long? That is at the heart of the structural problem here. Snapping her around from office to office is what gets many organizations into trouble eventually because either they are unwilling or unable legally to remove this problem.
As for this judge, I agree she seems to be having mental health issues. Treatment is the answer. If she has a retirement benefit from her service rightly or wrongly earned notwithstanding, she seems in need of this benefit.
Considering the judge has made some rather bizarre rulings and has been moved around, isn’t it just possible that there are some sealed and/or secret cases with her as the main subject? And isn’t it possible that they remain secret as a way of further marginalizing her? If she really needs mental health care, I hope she gets it. otoh, it could be that she’s on to something.
Her situation seems to be like those suing the government covertly spying on them. The government argues that they don’t have standing b/c they can’t prove they are the subject being spied on since it’s all covert and a secret.
Mike, I love Chicago. I lived there during the Harold Washington election which was inspiring. It is a city I visit often[ 2 hour drive] and August is one of the best months. The son was a little better than the old man but that is “damning w/ faint praise.”
I really like your twitter/blog Jonathan but you really need to have someone proofread these before you post.
e.g. “Cook County Judge Susan McDunn has had a controversial career with from allegations of anti-gay bias to sheer incompetence…”
It’s Cook County, Mike! How did the Daley’s remain Mayor so long? “Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown.”
I didn’t like either Daley, nor do I like Emmanuel. However, I have to say having visited Chicago on an extended stay about six years ago, it is one hell of a well-run City. Of course my visit was in August so the weather was beautiful.
Why did she remain a judge for so long?
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