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Mentally Ill Cook County Judge Seeks Return to the Bench

Cynthia Brim argued Friday before the state courts commission that she can sit in judgment of others as long as she stays on her meds.

Judge Cynthia Brim in her Cook County booking mug and in happier times on a recent talk show appearance.
Judge Cynthia Brim in her Cook County booking mug and in happier times on a recent talk show appearance.

A judge brought up on battery charges and found not guilty by reason of insanity last year wants her robe and gavel back.

Cook County Judge Cynthia Brim — diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type — appeared before the Illinois Courts Commission Friday and said she believes she can return to the bench as long as she stays on her meds.

The commission will rule on whether she can have her job back. She's been barred from the bench since March 2012, when she suffered a courtroom meltdown during which she ranted for 45 minutes about how Evergreen Park and South Holland police officers only ticket blacks and Hispanics. The next day, she threw her keys and shoved a Cook County sheriff's deputy at Daley Center.

Brim was suspended by the chief judge and charged with battery. She still receives her $182,000 salary. She was found not guilty by reason of insanity in February 2013.

Though she was charged with a crime and was not recommended for retention by various bar associations, voters re-elected her in November 2012. In fact, the Cook County Democratic Party and the Committee for Retention of Judges in Cook County, a campaign committee financed by judges, endorsed her for re-election.

The state’s Judicial Inquiry Board brought a complaint against Brim to the commission, and a board attorney said she's “mentally unable to perform her duties."

Sources last year told the Chicago Sun-Times that Brim accused south suburban police officers of conspiring against her. Sources also told the paper she would repeatedly recite her church's address, her license plate number and her parents' names.

On Friday, Brim told the commission she's been hospitalized for mental illness nine times since 1994. She would repeatedly stop taking her prescribed anti-psychotic medications.

"I can serve as a judge with full capabilities as long as I continue to take the medication as prescribed," she said. "I've had two years to think about this, and I have a different perspective and understanding of my condition. I realize now I have to stay on my medications and see a psychiatrist on a regular basis."

When it renders a decision, the commission could remove her from the bench, suspend her with pay or without, or reprimand her.

Mental illness aside, bar associations have repeatedly judged Brim's performance on the bench and found it lacking. She was "not recommended" in 2000 and 2006. Judges are elected to six-year terms.

Prior to becoming a judge in 1994, Brim worked for Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris from 1991 to 1994 and the city of Chicago law department from 1984 to 1991. She was admitted to the bar in 1983 after graduating from Loyola University Law School.

Jordan S. Zoot March 31, 2014 at 06:17 PM
Mr. Clements would you let a similarly compromised brain surgeon operate on you? Would you get into an airplane with a similarly compromised pilot...didn't think so. Maybe its ok for a washroom attendant or a fast food waiter...not for someone with a position of responsibility that requires judgment.
Bob Wadas April 01, 2014 at 04:21 PM
She was actually a very good judge !
Ed60062 April 08, 2014 at 10:39 PM
Funny how everyone thinks she shouldn't be a judge but, as was pointed out earlier, few bothered to vote no on the retention ballot.
Magilla Gorilla April 13, 2014 at 10:09 AM
Wow. If they had an asterisk by her name on the ballot that symbolized a connotation regarding her illness, I am sure people would have voted No. Most people that vote are either politically ignorant or corrupted anyway. Either way, the voting system is a fraud. SHOW HER THE MONEY, cuz, as far as I can tell, the vast majority of public servants have more than a few screws loose anyway... Birds of a feather flock together.
joan e. price April 27, 2014 at 11:23 AM
If you have ever had the "misfortune" to stand before a Cook County judge you will realize Cynthia Brim is not alone in her mental Illness. There are other nuttier judges on the bench causing havoc to citizens looking for fair adjudication.

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