Monday, February 04, 2013

Chicago: Judge found not guilty by reason of insanity

File this one under "Not from the Onion."

Three months ago when I came to the judicial retention page of my touch screen panel, I clicked "No" next to the name of Cynthia Brim.

The Chicago Tribune and several bar associations made that recommendation. But if we have too many low-information voters in the Chicago area.

Earlier today Judge Brim was found not guilty by reason of insanity by a fellow Cook County judge.

More from ABC 7 Chicago:
What came out of this one-day bench trial goes far beyond a verdict in a simple misdemeanor battery case. The testimony Monday revealed that criminal courts judge Cynthia Brim suffers from a serious mental illness that she has had for years.

Testimony indicated that it is treatable with medication, but that Brim has often stopped taking her medication, and at least five times since 1993 she has undergone extensive hospitalizations for schizo-effective bipolar disorder.

Brim shoved a sheriff's deputy 11 months ago at the Daley Center in what witnesses described as a bizarre incident in which Brim seemed dazed and irrational. She was charged with battery at the time.

Judge William Brennan ruled that Brim was not guilty by reason of insanity and based that on testimony by a psychiatrist that she was legally insane at the time of the incident. That doctor further revealed that Brim has undergone five psychiatric hospitalizations, four of them during her 18 years on the bench.
Wow. While I have sympathy with anyone who is ill, had this information about Brim been made public before Election Day, even the low-information voters here would have caught on--and taxpayers would no longer be paying Brim's $186,000 annual salary. She has been suspended--with pay of course--from her judicial duties for almost a year.

Last fall the Cook County Democratic Party recommended that all judges up for retention--including Brim--be kept on the job. They should be ashamed of themselves--but that of course is an impossibility in "Crook County."

Merit selection--not machine-controlled elections--should be used to pick judges in Illinois. At the very least the names of judges up for retention should be listed alphabetically, not by seniority, so enough well-informed voters can throw out the duds. B comes after A, so Brim would have been easier to find.

Last fall the Chicago Tribune gave many reasons why Brim belonged in the dustbin.

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