Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 9 Num. 49

("Quid coniuratio est?")


When the Gods Fall, the Earth Trembles

Past commentaries by Sherman H. Skolnick of the Citizens' Committee to Clean Up the Courts contain mention of a "Judge Brian Barnett Duff." Recall, for example, this excerpt from CN 9.07:

Called BNL, it had records of Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein and his secret private joint business dealings with his partner, an American. A close crony of the Federal Reserve, Chicago Federal District Judge Brian Barnett Duff, ordered the return of any records from the Banking Committee, then headed by a Democrat, Rep. Henry Gonzalez (D., Texas).

The House Banking Committee was an intervening party-litigant in the controversy. Judge Duff so opposed the House Banking Committee's efforts to get those records, that the Judge would not listen to the Committee's attorney; did not want the attorney in the Judge's courtroom, the Judge calling him an 800 pound gorilla showing no respect for the court.

As background to a detailed story by Mr. Skolnick, now in my possession, I call attention to an article in the Chicago Tribune of October 11, 1996 ("Beleagured judge steps down from U.S. bench").

According to the Tribune article, "U.S. District Judge Brian Duff resigned Thursday after more than a decade of erratic behavior on the bench." Why did Duff resign? Mr. Skolnick describes Duff as raving and ranting "like he had just escaped from a nut house" at one hearing. Says U.S. District Judge Marvin Aspen, Duff "has a legitimate physical disability." According to Mr. Skolnick, it had become "widely known and understood that Judge Duff is certifiably insane, and has a psychiatric disability."

It should be noted that mental illness is a complex disease and that those who suffer from it ought not to be stigmatized. Many of the so-called "mentally ill" are able to live normal lives, and indeed, some experts in the field (such as R.D. Laing, for example) characterize so-called "insanity" as in fact being "hyper sanity" -- meaning that those so labeled are actually superior in "sanity" to most.

However, that having been said, it is troubling that so many cases involving the lives and well-being of many have apparently been profoundly influenced, if not in fact decided, by a judge apparently not in full possession of his faculties. The fall of Judge Duff raises troubling questions as to past cases over which he has presided.

Some interesting vignettes from the Tribune article:

** Duff reportedly demanded a meeting with Illinois Governor Jim Edgar, and threatened the outcome of pending cases unless Edgar complied.

** Duff issued a gag order on lawyers in one case, and warned, "If I find someone talking to the press, I'm going to bore them a new orifice."

** The judge arrested his court clerk and fined her $20 reportedly because the clerk had handed a file to Duff "in the wrong way."

** During one particular sentencing, Judge Duff pontificated on "temptation" and revealed to the court that once, on an airplane, the flight attendant had "looked mighty fine."

According to the Tribune article, "Sources said that the matter [of Duff's resignation] was so sensitive that [U.S. Attorney James] Burns warned his entire office that if word of the complaint leaked out, violators would be fired."

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Aperi os tuum muto, et causis omnium filiorum qui pertranseunt. Aperi os tuum, decerne quod justum est, et judica inopem et pauperem. -- Liber Proverbiorum XXXI: 8-9