Mentally Ill Judge Cynthia Brim Removed From the Bench

By Charlton (Chuck) Stanley, Weekend Contributor

CT  MET-AJ-JUDGE-BRIM-1102The sad case of Cook County (Illinois) Judge Cynthia Brim has been discussed on this blog previously here and here. To sum up, she had a mental breakdown while holding traffic court on March 8, 2012.

She went on a paranoid rant, accusing police of targeting minorities for traffic tickets. For the next 45 minutes, she rambled on about her childhood as well as describing at least five prior hospitalizations for mental illness. During her rambling outburst, she told her audience she was once removed from the courtroom by paramedics after a previous breakdown.

Witnesses reported she said, “Not only men have balls, but women can have balls too. You just have to grow them.”

Someone reported her outburst to Chief Judge Brian Flaherty, who was having lunch at the time. Flaherty got up from his lunch and went directly to Judge Brim’s courtroom. After some persuasion, Judge Flaherty talked her into leaving the Courtroom.

The next day, she went to Daley Center dressed in hospital scrubs, a fur coat and a fur hat. No one recognized her as a judge at the security checkpoint. She reportedly shoved a deputy sheriff and threw her keys at him. She was arrested for misdemeanor battery. Later she was transported to a psychiatric hospital for an evaluation of her mental condition.

In the November 2012 General Election, she was reelected by an overwhelming majority vote, despite being ruled “unfit” by the Chicago Bar Association. However, she was not allowed to return to the courtroom, but did continue to draw her salary as an elected official.

She was tried on the assault charges in February 2013 and found not guilty by reason of insanity. Testimony showed Judge Brim had been having psychotic breaks since at least 1994, and had been hospitalized at least five times. She was diagnosed with a bipolar type of Schizoaffective Disorder a number of years ago, and had been prescribed antipsychotic medication for the condition. The history showed she made a practice of stopping her medications on her own, apparently as soon as she began to feel better.

Friday, May 9, Judge Cynthia Brim was removed from her position as a county court judge by the Illinois Courts Commission, which oversees the judiciary in Illinois. Her salary stops immediately. The Commission expressed sympathy for Judge Brim’s mental illness, but pointed out her own culpability in refusing to stay on her medications and failure to follow through with treatment when she needed it.

The 55 year old Brim is the first judge in more than a decade to be removed from the Bench during a term of office. In fact, only the seventh in the last forty years. In the unanimous ruling, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier wrote, “The public expects and deserves predictability in the judicial process, and the unpredictable and unrecognizable nature of (Brim’s) mental illness places the public at risk,” He went on to say that she had left the panel no choice by her refusal to stay in treatment.

My analysis of this sad situation:

When I first started in this business, what is now called Schizoaffective Disorder was called “Ambulatory Schizophrenia.” It is a strange disorder, because the patient can appear to be exceedingly normal much of the time. However, the facade of normalcy may be masking delusions, hallucinations, and a major disturbance of thought.

This is a treatable condition, and many people with Bipolar Disorder function quite well in society as long as they stay on the medications. However, it is not “curable” and is a lifelong condition. Like diabetes and some other chronic disorders, the patient can never go off their medications.

It is more treatable than true schizophrenia, and the treatment for both Bipolar Disorder and Schizoaffective Disorder are pretty much the same. The catch is that a self-proclaimed “flight into health” will never succeed. Sadly, Cynthia Brim does not have enough insight into her own condition to see that. Just because she may feel better does not mean she is better.

It is people like Cynthia Brim who create problems for others who may suffer from a similar disorder, but who stay in treatment. I hope she has learned something from this, but one of the best predictors of future behavior is past behavior. My sympathy to her and her family, because from all indications, the pattern is likely to repeat itself. I just hope that she is not one of those mentally ill people who get themselves killed or imprisoned because of their illness.

The full ruling of the Illinois Courts Commission is posted here on Scribd.

 

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96 thoughts on “Mentally Ill Judge Cynthia Brim Removed From the Bench”

  1. As a licensed Wisconsin Professional Engineer, I find that I am professionally disallowed from confusing personal opinions with objective facts.

    I have sometimes paid attention to The Reality-Based Community,, the slogan for which is, as I observe, Everyone is entitled to his opinion, but not his own facts.

    I am able to imagine that people who have not learned to distinguish facts from opinions may find the views oft-expressed by the members of The Reality-Based Community to be of anathema, apostasy, or heresy.

    However, such imaginings to not come close to being an opinion of mine.

    Incidentally, “Suppose were I floridly psychotic…” is a hedged hypothetical and is only of a non-extant universe of imagined impossibilities.

    There is, methinks, no inter-universe wormhole that can usefully connect a hedged hypothetical with any tangibly existing fact.

  2. J. Brian – I am not sure that in my view, if you are psychotic, and you hold the view that you can fly from one point to another, that is not your fact. It is not a fact that other lucid people would hold, but who is to say.

  3. I make mistakes.

    Perhaps I would have been more accurate had I identified the late Dr. Abraham A. Low as a neuropsychiatrist, as he was both, in my view, a qualified neurologist and a qualified psychiatrist.

  4. Phoenix does not, have police corruption? Now you narrowed it, I thought you said Arizona. That’s a bigger issure. Love how you scale back in your statements. Who is sheriff Joe? What state is he from?

    1. Keebler – not sure if they have cleaned up the Phoenix problem or not. Do not live there, so don’t track it. Joe is Sheriff of Maricopa County. Even the Feds have not proved he was corrupt and God knows they have tried.

  5. I am incapable of distinguishing private facts from personal opinions, even though it be of fact that personal opinions actually and factually exist.

    Suppose I were floridly psychotic in such a way as to unshakably believe that I can easily climb to the top level of the observation tower in Potawatomi State Park, in Door County, Wisconsin, and can jump off from the tower and gently,using my angel wings, fly over to the observation tower in Peninsula State Park, look around there, and then similarly fly to the observation tower on Washington Island.

    The Potawatomi State Park observation tower is a very comfortable walk for me from my place of residence.

    No matter how sincere is my belief that I can so fly from one tower to the other, I am well satisfied that I would feel no pain when I smashed into the earthly firmament near the base of the Potawatomi tower; the impact would more likely than not totally kill me into being insensate before any nerve impulses from smashing into the firmament.

    The notion of private facts may ultimately be the most profoundly tragic aspect of postmodernism and postmodernist philosophy.

    Objectivity, as neurologist Abraham A. Low wrote, terminates a panic.

    Were I so floridly psychotic as to walk to the Potawatomi observation tower and attempt to fly, using my angel wings, to the Peninsula observation tower, such panic as I might experience halfway down the tower would surely be terminated by my smashing into the firmament at the base of the tower.

    Ignoring objectivity tends to terminate life; at least in my experience.

    1. Keeber – had some renters who were from NYC, who complained to me that at least in NYC they would know who to bribe. Here nobody was on the take. Phoenix did/does have a little police corruption problem but it seems to be with one squad. We do not have machine politics. Except for a few politicians who seem to want to hang in for life, there is regular turn over. We term limited most offices. I do have to warn you about Quartzsite, though, they are having some problems. I think the state may come in and take them over for a while until things get straightened out.

  6. There have been quite a few Turley blog threads which I have saved offline for research purposes under the copyright rubric of “fair use.” This thread is one such.

    When a philosophical argument cannot be destroyed, perhaps because it is so profoundly accurate as to be functionally indestructible, is any alternative to attempting to destroy the philosopher viable as a method of retaining destructive aspects of human error as mandatory social norms?

    When an unwelcome message is true, whether or not its truth-value is known, is there any feasible way to kill the message without first killing all the messengers?

    For many years, I did my field work, somewhat in the manner of ethnography, in the most corrupt place I could find where I could actually live as though a member of the community. That most corrupt place was Cook County, Illinois. It was while I was a Cook County resident and Cook County government employee, that I came to understand much of social nature and function of corruption as a social stabilizing mechanism.

    In late 1994, I came to awareness that the corruption of Cook County had become unacceptably dangerous to my family, and we moved to Door County, Wisconsin. We moved because I had lived in Door County for part of my public school education and I recognized that there were resources available in Door County that might be of great help for my family.

    Alas, one of the reasons I recognized that help for my family might be more accessible in Door County than in any other place we might go for “asylum,” was my having learned in my age of childhood that Door County was itself profoundly corrupt in many ways, but, being of small population, also had quite a few inhabitants who were much concerned about local corruption and were of community activist ilk, willing to work on local corruption issues.

    I have found Wisconsin attorneys who are not willing to take cases in Door County, because, as one of them said to me, the Door County Circuit Court “is considered the most corrupt in the state.”

    While neurochemical imbalances are likely present in folks diagnosed as mentally ill, my work as a theoretical biologist and as a bioengineer relentlessly informs me that mental illness is epigenetic and not merely genetic.

    Another, older, perhaps, term for epigenetic is “diathesis-stressor.” In my bioengineering research, the diathesis is being alive and the stressor is corruption of personal integrity through coercive indoctrination of time-corrupted-learning generated, neurologically damaging social norms.

    In my work to date, the onset of human corruption is the traditional infant-child transition that, as I read the scientific psychology literature, tends to happen at about the age of 18 months.

    Methinks: Whereas personal opinions are the rightful property of the persons who have them, if facts are only personal property, there cannot actually be facts.

    1. J. Brian – I would posit that there actually are facts, but that my facts are my facts and your facts are your facts and sometimes the twain shall meet. I invite you to Arizona where we are not big on corrupt governments. Not that we don’t get them from time to time, but we do try to root them out before they become permanent.

  7. seamus, Illinois is the sleaziest state in the union. The Bureau of Prisons has housed many from both parties.

  8. Nick, just so you know, I’m a Democrat and liberal. The Republican’s are pretty sleazy in Illinois as well. The Democrats, through sheer numbers, just have so many more opportunities to exercise their bad behavior.

  9. seamus, Thank you for speaking truth. Even though it is obvious, you can read here some still don’t believe it.

  10. I’ve been in front of Judge Brim. She was widely considered to be a bit of an idiot. She’s connected to Jesse Jackson, I believe she is his niece. The Democratic machine protects its own even if they don’t deserved the protection. She was retained because of mindless machine politics. Fortunately the Courts Commission is not (not as ?) beholden to the political parties. We have some really bad judges here in Cook County. Some of the worst are elected from “sub-circuits” which, when created, carved the county into little racially concentrated bits and were specifically designed to get more minorities on the bench. But because some of these sub circuits tend to have very few lawyers even living within their boundaries, numb-skulls often run unopposed for the bench.

  11. Jurors Beg Judge Not To Send OWS Protester To Prison
    http://gothamist.com/2014/05/08/jury_hung_up_on_ows.php#.

    Excerpt:
    Nine members of the jury that convicted an Occupy Wall Street protester of felony assault of an officer have signed a letter asking that the judge not sentence her to any prison time. “We the jury petition the court for leniency in the sentencing of Cecily McMillan,” the letter reads. “We feel that the felony mark on Cecily’s record is punishment enough for this case and that it serves no purpose to Cecily or to society to incarcerate her for any amount of time.”

    One member of the jury told the Guardian a day after the verdict that they weren’t aware that McMillan was facing up to seven years in prison for their verdict: “Most just wanted her to do probation, maybe some community service. But now what I’m hearing is seven years in jail? That’s ludicrous. Even a year in jail is ridiculous.”

    In the trial that lasted nearly four weeks, McMillan claimed that her arresting officer, Grantley Bovell, violently grabbed her breast, which caused her to rear back and strike him with her elbow. Officer Bovell testified that it was intentional. Photographs show a deep bruise on McMillan’s right breast, but the jury told the Guardian they were swayed by this grainy video.

    Judge Ronald Zweibel has not shown sympathy for McMillan; he sent her to Rikers without bail after the verdict (and denied her appeal), denied a request to unseal evidence that may have cast more doubts on Officer Bovell’s credibility, imposed a gag order on McMillan’s attorneys, and on more than one occasion acted angrily towards her supporters in the courtroom.

  12. rafflaw

    Chuck,
    I will leave it up to the Professor. I realize I could take down the article that I have written and sometimes it is tempting, but then those who are attempting to disrupt have succeeded.

    *****
    rafflaw,

    You’ve written many fine articles for this blog. I think the one you posted this weekend is one of your best. Many of us older folks remember those times well…and how they changed this country. It is good to be reminded of such turbulent days in our history lest we forget.

    *****

    Justice Perverted: Occupy Protester Brutally Assaulted by Cop Has Been Convicted of Assaulting…the Cop
    5/5/14
    http://my.firedoglake.com/wendydavis/2014/05/05/justice-perverted-occupy-protester-brutally-assaulted-by-cop-has-been-convicted-of-assaultingthe-cop-despicable/

    Excerpt:
    Cecily McMillan had been charged with second degree assault on a cop which stemmed from a 2012 arrest at Zucotti Park on the six-month anniversary of OWS. When cops ordered everyone out of the park so that it could be cleaned of hippie trash and other detritus, Officer Grantley Bovell grabbed from behind, dragged her backward, squeezing her right breast with enough force to leave a hand print-shaped bruise. She reflexively threw an elbow, apparently not even knowing he was a cop at the time. He then knocked her to the ground, kicked and beat her viciously enough to cause a seizure, loss of memory, and hospitalization. Breast-grabbing of Occupiers had become somewhat of a modus operandi for NYPD and other city PDs. Thus, a sexual assault.

    The felony assault charge carries a maximum of seven years in prison.

    She had been offered a no-jail plea deal, but one that would still mark her as a felon. She refused it, as she wanted to clear her name. Justice was what she sought; vilification and conviction is what she got. Her trial finally began three weeks ago after two long years of waiting with a dark cloud over her head: would she be absolved of the insane charges? For more background and video interviews, read here.

    The verdict came at about 3:00 EDT; cell phones had been banned for today ahead of time; on this final day of Cecily McMillan’s trial, Judge Zweibel was slated to issue instructions to the jury, then they would begin their deliberations. That simple fact portended that the Judge strongly believed that the jury would convict. When court resumed after a lunch break, 32 cops entered the court room, signaling that the Judge and prosecutors must have considered that McMillan’s supporters might riot.

    Indeed, supporters chanted, ‘Shame, shame, shame’ at the Judge and Po-Po’s.

    McMillan was handcuffed and sent to Riker’s Island without the possibility of bail until her sentencing on May 19.

    Trying to piece together what’s gone down during the three-week trial has been difficult, as the coverage has been scant, and the live Tweets…very sketchy. I’ll start with the trial; you can skip down to the closing arguments if you’d prefer.

    But to say that Judge Ronald Zweibel has been biased would be the most conservative indictment of his rulings and behavior in the court room as well. To say that he knew what the verdict should be or would be on the first day of the trial would be closer to the mark. But the attorneys know there are plenty of grounds for an appeal. Not one speck of evidence or testimony pertaining to the police violence against peaceful protesters, the kettling, pepper-spraying, baton-smashes on heads…none of it.

    You can watch Cecily being interviewed on Democracy Now! describing her seizure and other injuries, both physical and mental/emotional, and read more about the worse-than-egregious charges, the reason she’d rejected a ‘felony ‘plea deal’, and other background here.

    He refused McMillan’s attorneys’ request to allow Bovell’s disciplinary file to be introduced into evidence, as he faces multiple lawsuits for past brutality, indicating a pattern, of course, and lack of credibility. The Judge refused the request as being potentially ‘prejudicial’. Yes, I’d imagine so. The NYPD has paid out thousands of dollars in lawsuits by Ocuppiers, including according to Sarah Jafee:

    “That includes a $55,000 settlement announced Thursday, April 24 [video at the link] to be paid to Josh Boss, who was livestreaming an Occupy march when he was thrown to the ground and kneed by Chief Thomas Purtell, who was at the time the commanding officer of the Manhattan South Patrol Division. Also among the final tally is $82,500 to Shawn Schrader, who goes by Shawn Carrie, over three separate violent arrests. A joint report from NYU’s Global Justice Clinic and Fordham’s Walter Leitner International Human Rights Clinic found that the police’s treatment of Occupy included ‘frequent alleged incidents of unnecessary and excessive police use of force against protesters, bystanders, journalists, and legal observers; constant obstructions of media freedoms, including arrests of journalists; unjustified and sometimes violent closure of public space, dispersal of peaceful assemblies, and corralling and trapping protesters en masse.”

    1. Excerpt from a more reliable source:

      http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/05/occupy-wall-street-cecily-mcmillan-guilty-assaulting-police-officer

      Assistant district attorney Erin Choi told the court last month that Bovell was walking behind McMillan with his hand on her shoulder. McMillan asked people around her “Are you filming this?”, said Choi, and then “crouched down, then bent her knees, and then aimed her elbow at the officer and then jumped up to strike”.

      “Officer Bovell was completely horrified,” said Choi. “This was the last thing he was expecting to happen that day.” Photographs showed that Bovell suffered a black eye. He said that he went on to experience headaches and sensitivity to light.

      Prosecutors showed the jury grainy video clips of the incident, downloaded from YouTube, which they said proved McMillan deliberately struck Bovell before attempting to run away. Less than two hours into their deliberations, the jury asked if they could re-watch the video footage. They were given a laptop on which to view it in the jury room.

  13. Paul, Maybe you and I should just leave and everything would go back to normal. You do realize the laments are directed @ us, not the many name changing, repeat offenders who constantly attack us. A quick perusal of this thread shows the problem. But, in Chuck’s mind it is you and I that are the problem, maybe just me.

    1. It is sad, but in many cases, juries do not get to decide the punishment. I think something creative like cleaning the police station every day for a year would be perfect.

  14. It seems the Lions of Discord keep returning. They will stay in their den if people stop feeding them.

  15. Chuck,
    I will leave it up to the Professor. I realize I could take down the article that I have written and sometimes it is tempting, but then those who are attempting to disrupt have succeeded.

  16. You know Charlton, I think we all get tired of the trolling and baiting. The question is should the guest bloggers be in the moderation of threads in the professors absence. I think so, because you all are more readily available. You all could place offending comments in moderation.

    I think the way to stop it is before the thread gets jacked.

    1. The speech is better quoted as:

      Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
      Is the immediate jewel of their souls:
      Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
      ‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
      But he that filches from me my good name
      Robs me of that which not enriches him
      And makes me poor indeed.

      This way what is going to happen to Othello is doubly pointed out.

    2. Keebler – it was my understanding from reading comments from you, Annie, Chuck, Elaine, et al. that since topics within a thread are like a flowing river that changes course from time to time, no thread could be ‘hijacked.’

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