Controversial Cook County judge “happy to be re-elected”
BY LISA DONOVAN Cook County Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org November 7, 2012 10:14AM
Cook County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Brim, who faces a misdemeanor battery charge, won a new six-year term in Tuesday’s judicial retention election. | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times
Updated: December 9, 2012 7:27PM
Fresh from a narrow Election Night victory, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Brim was back in the courtroom Wednesday morning — on the other side of the bench as her misdemeanor battery case winds its way through the judicial system.
Brim said nothing as she appeared briefly with her attorney before a judge in a Cook County criminal courtroom, but as she prepared to leave the courthouse at 26th and California, Brim made her first public comments — about the election.
“I can’t get into much, but I’m happy to be re-elected,” Brim told reporters after the hearing. She said she was at home Tuesday night and watched election returns on television.
On March 9, Brim was arrested at the Daley Center court complex where she allegedly tossed a set of keys near a security checkpoint and shoved a sheriff’s deputy. She has pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge.
Days later, a panel of supervising judges suspended her and she remains off the job indefinitely, though she continues to collect a regular paycheck for the $182,000-a-year job.
She declined to answer questions about whether she’s ready to return to the bench and hear cases, but her attorney indicated it’s out of her hands. Brim’s suspension will likely continue until the state’s Judicial Inquiry Board investigation winds up, her attorney James D. Montgomery Sr. said after the hearing. The judicial board is charged with investigating and prosecuting allegations of “judicial misconduct or incapacity,” according to the state’s website.
Court records obtained by the Sun-Times reveal Brim was examined by a court-appointed psychiatrist who believes she’s “presently mentally fit with medication” but opined she was “legally insane” at the time of the reported skirmish with the sheriff’s officer.
Montgomery said those very findings indicate the case should be tossed.
Brim has a “bipolar disorder” and “at the time that this alleged offense occurred ... my client was simply not in a mental state that is sufficient for her to ever be found guilty, so we’re wasting valuable judicial time.” Montgomery told reporters.
But the case will proceed, Montgomery suggests, because Brim has not bowed to pressure to step down.
“If they’re trying to get her to resign as they apparently have been trying to do, and holding this case over her as a hostage, it will never happen because if we must try the case, we will try the case,” Montgomery said.
Asked to explain further, Montgomery said “the assistant state’s attorney has said to me on at least two court appearances, ‘Is she going to resign?’ And when I said she absolutely is not going to resign under these circumstances, she [the assistant state’s attorney] said ‘OK let’s go to trial.’ ”
Andy Conklin, a spokesman for State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, said later: “We’ve never suggested that she resign.”
Brim, 54, has been on the bench since 1994 and Tuesday’s victory means another six-year term in office.
While bar groups were giving her a thumbs-down, with one noting that attorneys questioned her “legal abilities,” the Cook County Democratic Party gave the entire slate of retention judges — that is, sitting judges up for re-election — a thumbs-up.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle put out a robocall asking voters to support the Democratic ticket and the judges up for re-election, her campaign spokesman Scott Kastrup said on Wednesday.