Judge found not guilty on battery charge by reason of insanity

February 5, 2013 5:32:30 AM PST
A Cook County judge was found not guilty by reason of insanity in her trial on charges of pushing a sheriff's deputy.

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.

Her attorney, Jim Montgomery, says Brim is pleased with Monday's verdict and that she wants to return to her job as judge.

Asked how Brim can convince the public and judiciary that she is fit to render sound judgments, Montgomery said: "It really isn't for the public determination. The appetite for the public is a very strong one when the think that anybody is ill, but sickness and illness is something that can afflict anyone, even a news reporter and if you get treated for it, you're fine and that's what we feel the situation is with her."

Brim is referred to the Department of Human Services for more psychiatric analysis.

She has been suspended from the bench since last march when the incident occurred. She continues to collect her $182,000 a year salary. There is a complaint on file with the judicial inquiry board and they could move to have her removed from the bench or retired from the bench, but what is unclear is whether she was ever compelled to report to her superiors as to her psychiatric condition: the fact that, as a judge, she was taking medications to treat a serious mental illness.

It's fair to say that the public did not know that when it voted to retain her as a judge last November.