Over the past week, while the Bay Area has been rainy, windy, and generally ugly outside, folks in my old Chicago stomping grounds have been enjoying the upside of global warming.

I know the sun is a nice, unexpected reprieve from the nine-month Midwestern winter. Unfortunately, the mini-heatwave has not brought any relief from the hot air that notoriously blows from government buildings in Cook County.

Earlier this month, a local judge was unceremoniously removed from her courthouse and arrested for assault. My colleague Staci Zaretsky might have called her a judicial diva, but I think this jurist is more of a Mike Tyson type…

Here’s the scoop about Judge Cynthia Brim from the Chicago Tribune:

A Cook County judge was removed from the bench Monday following separate incidents last week in which she was arrested after shoving a courthouse deputy and ordered to leave her Markham courtroom after launching a lengthy tirade.…

Brim, 53, is banned from court facilities until further order, according to the order signed by Chief Judge Timothy Evans and 17 other presiding judges. She must be escorted by sheriff’s deputies if she has business in a courthouse, the order said.

Is someone spiking the drinking water in Midwestern courthouses with PCP? What is going on here? Maybe this is what happens when you’ve been listening to Republican primary ads for a month. Brim may be no David Prosser, but maybe she needs some “special truffles” to help her relax.

Here are more details about Brim’s courthouse crackup:

Brim was arrested Friday after shoving a sheriff’s deputy and tossing a set of keys at a Daley Center security checkpoint, police said.

One day earlier, Brim, who had filled in for other judges, launched into a tirade that lasted about 45 minutes while presiding over a traffic court call at the Markham courthouse, sources said. Judge Brian Flaherty, who was the acting presiding judge that day, eventually asked Brim to leave the courtroom.

I made the mistake of going to traffic court in Oakland once, and during my time there the judge got into a shouting match with a man who made the mistake of raising his hand to ask a question. The exchange ended with the man (who, quite possibly, never finished high school let alone law school) getting escorted out while yelling, “I am a man! A man! I have dignity! You can’t talk to me like that!” The judge that day also gave us a few short tirades, but 45 minutes would’ve been insufferable.

Judge Brim’s situation just seems to provide more evidence that traffic court is the worst of the worst, the lowest of the low, the slimiest of the slimy. Just the armpit of our justice system. If I ever face the prospect of traffic court again, I think I will just take Iron Maiden’s advice.

As a side note, Judge Brim is not the only Chicago judge in the hot seat recently. In February, Cook County Circuit Judge Vanessa Hopkins faced criticism over claims that she took 206 days of vacation or sick leave in 2011 (while pulling down a $178,835 salary).

Oh, baby don’t you want to go,
Back to that same old place,
Sweet home Chicago.

Cook County judge removed from duties following arrest [Chicago Tribune]


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