‘I’m not paranoid,’ says Cook County judge who claims secret cases name her
BY KIM JANSSEN Federal Courts Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org November 1, 2012 8:20PM
Judge Susan McDunn
Updated: December 3, 2012 6:45AM
Cook County Judge Susan McDunn thinks someone might be out to get her — but she can’t say who.
During two bizarre appearances in federal court last week, the 57-year-old judge claimed her “life is being ruined” by a series of secret lawsuits that may involve powerful Chicagoans including former Mayor Richard M. Daley, Ald. Ed Burke (14th), Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and officials with the Archdiocese of Chicago.
McDunn insists, “I’m not paranoid.”
But there’s a problem with her claims — Chief Federal Court Judge James F. Holderman says he’s checked, and no such cases exist.
An agitated McDunn, who hears Law Division cases at the Daley Center despite repeated findings by bar associations that she is not fit to be retained, marched into the Dirksen Federal building last Tuesday seeking help from Federal Judge Amy St. Eve with what she said was an “emergency.”
“I’m almost certain there is a case or more pending in this court under seal involving claims that I have — that I have against people,” a tense McDunn told St. Eve.
Asked how she knew the sealed cases existed, McDunn said, “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,” she continued as a seemingly perplexed assistant U.S. attorney looked on. “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.”
After McDunn outlined how she believed an attorney who once represented her had secretly filed cases on her behalf without her knowledge, an exasperated St. Eve told her “you have not provided me with sufficient information to make a determination if you can intervene in some case that may or may not exist.”
Two days later, McDunn appeared before Holderman — Chicago’s top federal judge — again armed with a motion alleging that either the attorney, her doctor or her “spiritual advisor” had filed or helped file the secret cases, which she could not identify, asking Holderman to allow her to intervene.
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 previously attracted unwanted headlines for her controversial handling of adoptions by lesbians. McDunn refused to approve uncontested adoptions by lesbian couples without a hearing, a move at odds with standard practice in Cook County. The Illinois Judicial Inquiry board argued she was biased against gays. The Illinois Courts Commission cleared her.
Contacted Thursday by the Sun-Times, McDunn continued to insist that secret cases involving her may exist in federal or state court. She again said she had information, which she refused to divulge, that the cases may exist, saying she was simply “protecting myself” by asking the federal judges whether they do.
“I’m a judge — I know that cases are sometimes filed but the parties involved are not given notice,” she said.
“I’m a completely healthy person — mentally, spiritually and physically.”