Cook County judge resigns after saying secret cases name her
BY LISA DONOVAN Cook County Reporter email@example.com November 13, 2012 2:20PM
Judge Susan McDunn
Updated: December 15, 2012 6:21AM
Cook County Judge Susan McDunn has stepped down, little more than a week after the Sun-Times detailed her bizarre appearances in federal court in which she claimed powerhouses in politics and the Chicago Roman Catholic Archdiocese were out to get her.
On Friday, McDunn notified Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride and others in writing that she was leaving the bench immediately. Supreme court spokesman Joseph Tybor and a spokesman for Cook County Chief Judge Tim Evans both confirmed her resignation.
McDunn’s single sentence letter, according to Tybor, read simply: “Effective immediately, I resign from my position as a judge of the circuit court of Cook County.”
The judge told the Sun-Times in a phone interview late Tuesday afternoon that the “cruel and unwarranted persecution I’ve been dealing with for years” on the bench convinced her to pull the plug on her career — a job that pays $182,000 a year.
“This is too much,” McDunn told the Sun-Times. “It’s been constant for 20 years. ... It’s too painful for me to be at the courthouse because that’s where most of the persecution arises from,” she said.
McDunn refused to provide specifics saying only that she’s said she’s been the victim of “defamation, harassment, stalking, invasion of privacy, invasion of medical records, invasion to my right to confidentiality in medical records, people scheming to make up stories and spread lies about me — and it’s politically based.”
Most recently assigned to hear cases in the civil Law Division in the Daley Center court complex, McDunn called the downtown courthouse a “hostile work environment” and didn’t want to step foot back inside.
McDunn hasn’t heard a case for months because she’s been on medical leave — after she was quietly “removed” from the bench by Evans and another supervising judge, according to a recent statement from Evans’ office.
Evans would not discuss why she was removed from the bench.
McDunn, 57, said she asked to take a leave of absence during a bench trial she was presiding over last December, noting that she felt the “physical and emotional” toll of “persecution I have suffered on the job for 20-plus years.”
McDunn tells the paper she was under the care of a doctor, but insists that she is healthy.
She said the “persecution” began when she ran for a hotly contested judicial race — and ousted the slated Democrat. And it continued, she says, during her controversial handling of gay adoptions. McDunn refused to approve uncontested adoptions by lesbian couples without a hearing, a move at odds with standard practice in Cook County and one that garnered unwanted headlines. The Illinois Judicial Inquiry board argued she was biased against gays; the Illinois Courts Commission cleared her.
McDunn has fielded questions from the Sun-Times in recent weeks after asking federal judges twice in October to intervene in cases she believed had been secretly filed in her name.
She told the court that she believes the mystery cases involve her and figures including former Mayor Richard M. Daley and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez as well as the archdiocese.
In late October, an agitated McDunn marched into the Dirksen Federal building seeking the help of Federal Judge Amy St. Eve with what she dubbed 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.
But the case went nowhere because McDunn didn’t provide enough evidence.
Two days later, she went to Chicago’s top federal judge James F. Holderman armed with a motion alleging that either an 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, telling her eight times during a brief hearing that “there is no case,” according to a transcript.