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DuPage judge to hear battery case vs. Cook County Judge Cynthia Brim

Cook County Sheriff's phoJudge CynthiBrim.

Cook County Sheriff's photo of Judge Cynthia Brim.

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Updated: December 13, 2012 1:39AM

A DuPage County judge has been tapped to preside over a politically delicate battery case against Cook County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Brim, who was arrested earlier this year at the downtown Daley Center court complex after allegedly shoving a sheriff’s deputy and throwing a set of keys near a security checkpoint.

Two Cook County judges have recused themselves from the Chicago case, and Cook County Chief Judge Evans asked the Illinois Supreme Court for permission to appoint an out-of-county judge to the case — a request that was granted Nov. 15th. So during a brief hearing on the misdemeanor charge Wednesday in the Daley Center, Cook County Judge E. Kenneth Wright Jr., who presides over the court’s first municipal district where the misdemeanor case is being handled, told Brim, her attorney and an assistant state’s attorney that “Judge Liam Brennan from DuPage County is going to hear this case.”

Evans couldn’t be reached for comment but he contacted the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts — arm of the Illinois Supreme Court — requesting the case be assigned to a judge outside of Cook County, said state supreme court spokesman Joe Tybor.

“I think he mentioned a potential appearance of conflict — that the case can’t be tried without the potential appearance of conflict” in making the case for a judge in a different jurisdiction to hear the case, Tybor said.

In mid-November, the Supreme Court entered an order granting that request; the case landed in the 18th Circuit Court District — DuPage County — where the chief judge there assigned the case to Brennan, Tybor said.

He said it’s not necessarily a typical request.

“This happens on occasion — when there is a potential appearance of conflict and in this case you have a judge charged with a...criminal offense,” Tybor said.

Brennan couldn’t be reached for comment.

Brim, 54, and a judge since 1994, has pleaded not guilty to the charge and didn’t comment after the hearing.

Her attorney Jack Kennedy told reporters he didn’t have a problem with bringing in an an out-of-county judge to hear the matter, but believes the case against his client is “petty” and a waste of taxpayer money.

“I think the court’s decision to have an out-of-county judge here…just reflects the court’s view that that would be most appropriate,” he said, explaining he hadn’t been given the details about the move.

“I think that this prosecution is a complete waste of government resources. In a city with so much serious crime it’s astonishing to me that the Cook County State’s attorney would dedicate her office’s resources to something as petty as this. The loser in this case will be the Cook County taxpayer,” he said.

“They really want a trial about whether one government official pushed another government official and we’re going to have all of these people…on the county payroll...come in and testify. We’ve got a prosecutor paid by Cook County…it’s going to be hard to find someone in the courtroom not getting a government check. It’s a complete waste of government resources especially when there’s no chance of any conviction.”

He was echoing the sentiments of James D. Montgomery, another one of Brim’s attorneys, who stressed these were just allegations but also that she couldn’t be found guilty because of her mental state at the time of the alleged incident.

According to court records obtained by the Sun-Times, 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.

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, her attorney, told reporters after a hearing last month.

He believes the case is proceeding to trial because Brim had not bowed to pressure to resign from the bench.

“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 after a hearing in early November.

He went on to say that “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, responded: “We’ve never suggested that she resign.”

A day before her March 9 arrest, she was ordered by a superior judge off the bench because she was exhibiting what some witnesses told the Sun-Times was erratic behavior during a traffic court call in the Bridgeview courthouse.

In the days after her that March 9th arrest, a panel of Cook County presiding judges suspended Brim indefinitely and she remains off the bench despite voters handing her another 6-year term in last month’s election. She continues to collect a regular paycheck for her $182,000-a-year job.

The state’s Judicial Inquiry Board, which investigates and prosecutes allegations of “judicial misconduct or incapacity, is also looking at Brim, her legal counsel says.

When she might return, her attorney Kennedy said on Wednesday, is “unknown at this time.”

Does she want to come back to her old job?

“The judge is keen to resume the duties she’s been elected to perform,” Kennedy said, as he stood next to Brim.

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