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Judge Cynthia Brim Found Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity

By Erica Demarest | February 4, 2013 1:57pm | Updated on February 4, 2013 7:58pm
 Judge Cynthia Brim, 54, allegedly shoved a Cook County Sheriff's Deputy on March 9, 2012.
Judge Cynthia Brim, 54, allegedly shoved a Cook County Sheriff's Deputy on March 9, 2012.
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Cook County Sheriff's Office

CHICAGO — A Cook County judge accused of shoving a Daley Center sheriff's deputy was found not guilty by reason of insanity Monday.

In announcing the verdict, DuPage County Judge Liam Brennan called for Judge Cynthia Brim to undergo a mental health evaluation by the Illinois Department of Human Services.

The evaluation must be submitted for review by March. Brim, who is due back in court on March 15, faces a potential court-mandated treatment.

Brim was charged with misdemeanor battery after allegedly shoving Cook County Sheriff's Deputy Herbert Edwards at a security checkpoint at the entrance to the Daley Center on March 9, 2012.

On Monday, the deputies who witnessed the incident and a doctor who treated Brim took the stand to describe what went down that bizarre day.

Dr. Matthew Markos, director of Cook County's Forensic Clinical Services, said he interviewed Brim after she allegedly shoved the sheriff's deputy. He said the 54-year-old judge has been hospitalized five times in 19 years for a "major mental illness" called schizoaffective disorder. Symptoms can include delusions and hallucinations.

Markos said the judge was "erratic, bizarre and hasty" on the day of the incident.

According to testimony by the deputies, Brim allegedly threw keys at a security checkpoint before leaving the center. When Edwards followed Brim and repeatedly asked her to come back inside, Brim shoved him, he testified.

"She was throwing her body — her chest — into mine,” Edwards said. “She was trying to, I guess, either go through me or around me."

None of the deputies on hand knew Brim was a judge, according to their testimony. One deputy described Brim as wearing scrubs, a fur hat and a fur coat. Edwards said she carried multiple bags.

"She just didn't look very professional," he noted.

Before showing up downtown, Brim had set out to file a complaint about a newspaper article that painted another judge in a negative light, Markos testified she told him. She accidentally took a bus to 47th Street on the South Side and after attempting to "march for justice" toward the Loop, wound up on the seventh floor of the Daley Center without much knowledge of why she was there, Markos said.

Arresting officers characterized Brim as despondent and irrational. Sheriff’s Deputy Deborah Salzman, who oversaw Brim’s intake, said the judge was unable to answer questions.

Defense attorneys and Markos said Brim has no recollection of the incident and was not on medication when the alleged incident occurred. They said she was mentally unfit without the medication.

Despite the battery charge and being deemed legally insane, Brim was re-elected to her seat in November. She is currently on an indefinite suspension but hopes to return to the bench, her lawyer said.

That may prove difficult, as the Judicial Inquiry Board, which disciplines and removes judges, recently launched an investigation into whether Brim is fit to serve.

Brim has been on the bench since 1994 — one year after her first psychiatric hospitalization. In 2004, she was carried out of a courtroom on a stretcher after she found herself unable to speak and “just stood there,” her lawyer confirmed.