Illinois Judge From Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity . . . And May Now Return To The Bench

We previously discussed the bizarre case of Cook County Judge Cynthia Brim, a judge in Markham, Illinois who has been barred from entering the courthouse without police escort and has a prior arrest for assault. Despite long opposition from bar groups and her claiming insanity as a defense to the charge, Cook County voters returned her to the bench in a recent election. Now, Brim has been cleared of the criminal charge by reason of insanity and can now be cleared to resume judging other people in Cook County . . . thanks to voters who clearly reelected her on a basis other than competence, record, or sanity.


The Democratic party supported Brim’s reelection despite that fact that the bar association has been trying since 2000 to remove her from the bench. In 2000, 2006 and 2012, bar associations have found her not qualified. Pending her being cleared by the courts to return to the bench, she will continue to collect $182,000 in annual salary. By the way, she was reelected by 63.5 percent of the vote.

In one past incident, Brim, 54, simply froze in the middle of addressing a courtroom and had to be carried off the bench by paramedics. She has been diagnosed with a bipolar type of schizoaffective disorder which cause delusions and hallucinations.

On March 8th, Brim had to leave the courthouse following a tirade where she was raving in a courtroom. The next day, she was upset about a story in the newspaper and decided to do a single persons “march for justice” after taking the wrong bus to go downtown to complain. She walked 5 miles to her attorney’s office but went to the wrong law firm . . . then refused to leave. That attorney later filed another complaint against Brim.

She then went to the Daley Center and caused a scene — throwing her keys on the ground in protest of her treatment. A deputy noticed that the keys were security keys that civilians are not supposed to have and asked her to stop to answer questions. She refused and went down Randolph street. The deputy stepped in front of her and she shoved him. She was then arrested.

Brim is scheduled to return in March to the bench.

The case again raises the question of the wisdom of elected judges rather than appointed judges. Clearly the voters did not care that she has demonstrated incompetence both professional and personally to sit on the bench. She was reelected at the same time and by the same margin as Jesse Jackson Jr. after he disappeared from Congress. The difference is that Brim hands down judgment on other citizens as a judge. Her case speak loudly to the need to move away from elected judge positions in Illinois and other states.

Source: Chicago Tribune

36 thoughts on “Illinois Judge From Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity . . . And May Now Return To The Bench

  1. “Your honor, my client is crazy. And, well, YOU certainly understand that….” “My client is simply not guilty…just like you!” What could possibly go wrong here?

  2. Our policy towards the mentally incompetent is criminal. In our rush to insure their civil rights, we have cast them out to the world where they can both prey upon and be preyed upon. That some voters are fools in a democracy is nothing new, but that people of good sense cannot act to rectify the wrong is new,indeed. Given the public safety issues both the Illinois Supreme Court and the Governor should step in.

  3. “The case again raises the question of the wisdom of elected judges rather than appointed judges. Clearly the voters did not care that she has demonstrated incompetence both professional and personally to sit on the bench.”

    Then again perhaps the electorate knew exactly what they were doing and their vote was simply an expression of how they view the court.

    I am not arguing it is so but perhaps the citizens in this jurisdiction see the court as schizoaffective and figured delusions and hallucinations were a bonus?

  4. Can you see the rush to get before her with the pleas named above?

    We knew justice would be done, that is why we elected a “hanging judge”.

    Appointed judges? What, and leave it to the elite?

    We know appointed ones are crooked. Ask Malisha or anybody will do, except lawyers! :-)

  5. I think that a good compromise would be to have a judicial candidate review panel to weed out cases like this. This panel could be set up by the bar association on a non-partisan basis, and if there is such an outlandish case like this, she could simply be removed from the list of candidates.

  6. “The Democratic party supported Brim’s reelection despite that fact that the bar association has been trying since 2000 to remove her from the bench.” -Jonathan Turley

    Illinois State Bar Association:

    http://www.isba.org/sites/default/files/judicialevaluations/2012general/ISBA%20Full%20Judicial%20Candidate%20Evaluations.pdf

    Hon. Cynthia Brim – Not Qualified

    “Hon. Cynthia Brim was elected to the Circuit Court of Cook County in 1994. She was retained for six-year terms in 2000 and 2006. She was in the 6th Municipal District presiding over Misdemeanor, Traffic Civil, Paternity, Child Support, Custody, Visitation, Domestic Violence,
    Bond hearings, and Ordinance Violation cases. Other previous judicial assignments include the Domestic Relations Division, the 1st Municipal District, and the 5th Municipal District. Hon. Cynthia Brim has currently been removed from all judicial duties by Special Order No. 2012-14
    of the Executive Committee of the Circuit Court of Cook County.
    The Committee evaluation questioned Judge Brim’s legal knowledge and ability. For the 2012 General Election, the Illinois State Bar Association determined Hon. Cynthia Brim is not qualified for retention as a judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County.”

    “Hon. Cynthia Brim has currently been removed from all judicial duties by Special Order No. 2012-14 of the Executive Committee of the Circuit Court of Cook County.” (above ISBA link)

    How about another “Special Order?”

  7. Now, Brim has been cleared of the criminal charge by reason of insanity and is now clear to resuming judging other people in Cook County …”

    So glad she made it through the hazing rituals.

  8. ARE,

    You are interfering with our Constitutional civil liberties.

    Besides as AP shows us, there are others who have tried to influence electoral processes. Successfully at first, but they don’t have the machine behind them when it comes election time, or do they?

  9. You’re mistaken when you say she’s clear to resume judging. She is suspended pending investigation by the Judicial Inquiry Board. If they clear her to resume judging, then this is a story about what’s wrong with the Judicial Inquiry Board.

  10. Reconsidering Judicial Retention in Illinois

    Published on: February 4, 2013

    By: Elizabeth Monkus

    http://www.chicagoappleseed.org/reconsidering-judicial-retention-in-illinois/

    “On Friday, Illinois State Representative Kelly Cassidy introduced a bill to amend the Illinois Constitution with regard to the retention of sitting judges. Rep. Cassidy’s bill would create a “Judicial Retention Commission in each Judicial District to evaluate the qualifications of Supreme and Appellate Court Judges seeking retention” as well as “a Judicial Retention Commission in each Judicial Circuit to determine the qualification for Judges for retention in the Circuit.” The bill also “provides for the impaneling of additional Judicial Retention Commissions in a Circuit if more than 40 Judges have filed a declaration of candidacy for retention.” The Amendment would mean that that Judges found qualified are retained in office, but those found unqualified by the Commissions could choose to seek retention in retention elections.”

    (http://www.chicagoappleseed.org/thoughts-on-judicial-evaluation-following-judge-brims-acquittal/)

  11. Given that insanity is a legal construct not a psychiatric one, it’s in the legal system’s ballpark to figure out what to do with her, as well as her political opposition. Democracy means that ll kinds of “insane” people get elected.

  12. This event and her arrest happened before her recent reelection to the bench. This is not her first brush with insanity. I guess the voters get what they deserve.

  13. She obviously is not qualified to be on the bench, let alone a practicing attorney. If she can control the disease through medication, I could understand her returning the bench, but it seems obvious that she is either incapable of staying on the meds or meds are not useful in her case. She needs to go, but as said earlier, the voters have returned many unqualified persons to office. Just look at Congress.
    I believe that the ARDC Fitness committee could step in and remove her attorney license.

  14. Try the Missouri Non Partisan Plan. A committee in a county is selected and they nominate three names, the Governor picks one. This is only in St. Louis, St. Louis County, Kansas City, and I think Springfield. The rest of the state is still partisan elections. It also applies to appellate and supreme court judges. Some dogs have their reservations about it. We still ended up with a Missouri Supreme Court which is UnReconstructed. That is, they wont recognize federal jurisprudence and U.S. Supreme Court cases on the issue of whether a criminal defendant received a fair trial– that the circumstantial evidence rule be applied in trial and on appeal. They also will not let a defendant put on a defense that a third person was the killer. These judges went to college and law school and somewhat speak the King’s English. But, they are not as bad as that thing ya go up their in ChiTown.

  15. I went to court in Johnson County, Illinois back in the ’70s and this judge was standing up on the bench in full robes with a Bible. He was preaching to a defendant standing down there before him as he sentenced him to jail for 30 days for dui. I commented to a court clerk who blew it off and said that the people elected him. That was in a prior incarnation before my present role as a dog. I was a good human and never got sentenced and so when my time came up there in Saint Peters Pearly Gates, I was given the choice to come back as a dog. Some guy named Barry was up there and he said that it was a choice and not an echo.

  16. And some people have the noive to say: “would you prefer the legal system in China or Roosia to the one we have here in the land of the free?”.

  17. What did you expect in Chicago? They elected Daley time after time.
    Illinois voters also elected Jessie Jackson Jr even though he didn’t campaign, was in a mental hospital, and was awaiting prosecution…fortunately he decided to step down…so now Illinois can not only be the butt of corruption jokes, but the can come out with “stupid voter” jokes to put the icing on the cake!

  18. Doesn’t Illinois lead the nation in convicted politicians? As in ex-governor Ryan who was just released from jail.

  19. I haven’t fully thought out my position on whether or not judges should be elected or appointed so I will comment some time in the future on that. But I will say that if judges are to be elected, the process for removal from office due to legitimate cause needs to be less arduous and delayed. That might be a good balance for now.

  20. “DonS1, February 5, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Party over, well, just about everything it seems.”

    Remember the feeling when the room lights came back on and the spell disappeared in a drinkle of your eye.

    Drinkle? The twinkle replaced by drunkeness.

  21. I’m surprised I’m the only one here who cast a ballot in Cook County. I guess I’m only slightly less lazy that my fellow citizens in that I print out the Independent Voters of Illinois/Independent Precinct Organization (IVI-IPO) endorsements. (This is the anti-machine “Lakefront Liberal” and “Hyde Park Leftie” political organization in Chicago.) They did not endorse Judge Brim for retention. Sadly, it looks like she didn’t respond to their questionnaire that they use for reviewing candidates. Her responses might have been… um, interesting.

    Also, it seems like some comment moderation is called for.

  22. An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a co-worker who has been conducting a little homework on this. And he actually bought me dinner due to the fact that I found it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending the time to talk about this matter here on your internet site.

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