The Judicial Inquiry Board of Illinois issued an eight-count complaint Monday against Cook County Judge Susan McDunn for allowing her anti-gay biases to interfere with adoptions sought by two lesbian families. The inquiry board will prosecute the complaint and seek appropriate sections before the Illinois Courts Commission.
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, which represented the mothers on appeal of what should have been routine second-parent adoption proceedings, said the state Board's action underlined the judiciary's obligation to provide fair and respectful treatment to lesbian and gay people and their families.
"The Judicial Inquiry Board's action is a forceful warning that bias against lesbians and gay men has no place in Illinois courts," said Lambda Senior Counsel Patricia M. Logue, who argued the 1999 case in which the adoptions, as well as another judge's removal of Judge McDunn from the cases, were upheld.
The complaint rebukes the judge for disclosing confidential court papers, including the names of the family members, to an anti-gay group based in Washington, D.C., which the judge tried to appoint as a "secondary guardian" to the children. McDunn also is charged with numerous violations of the Illinois Code of Judicial Conduct for delaying the adoption, improperly questioning the mothers about their sexual histories, and failing to grant motions and orders motions to remove her from the cases—all due, the JIB said, to her personal bias.
McDunn, the board said, committed "conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice and conduct that brings the judicial office into disrepute." The matter now moves to the Illinois Courts Commission for a public hearing. McDunn faces possible sanctions ranging from reprimand to removal from office.
In the two adoption cases, known on appeal as Petition of C.M.W., two lesbian couples separately sought to adopt their partners' biological children. Such adoptions secure a protective legal bond between both parents and their children; they have been available to gay families in Illinois since Lambda won a case establishing that right in 1995.
Court appointed guardians and social workers had "highly recommended" the adoptions as in the children's best interests, but McDunn ignored settled law and orders from her supervising judge, issuing orders that "astonished" the presiding judge of the adoption division.
Copyright © 2001 Lambda Publications Inc. All rights reserved. Lambda publishes Windy City Times, The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community, Nightlines, Out Resource Guide, Clout! Business Report, Blacklines and En La Vida. 1115 W. Belmont 2D, Chicago, IL 60657; PH (773) 871-7610; FAX (773) 871-7609. Web at outlineschicago.com E-mail feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org!