Although I try to avoid focusing on parochial interests — and, to be frank, theres something liberating about writing about people who dont have the power to revoke my license to practice my profession — nonetheless Albuquerques ex-Presiding Judge John Brennan has already rated a mention, thanks to his arrest for cocaine possession. (See post 38.)
That would be enough for some people. But certain personalities, once they taste the intoxicating liquor of mention in this blog, find themselves unable to resist the temptation to sip it again:
According to police reports:
Officers heard screams shortly after arriving in Brennans neighborhood. After determining they were coming from what turned out to be Brennans house, they approached the front door and heard a woman scream, "Please let me go" and "Ouch, you are hurting me." They also heard a male curse at the woman and say, "Because of you and your big mouth, the cops are going to come."
The woman responded, "Why are you doing this? Please let me go. Youre hurting me" as country music blared in the background.
The officers then heard what sounded like the woman escaping and heard her scream, "Help! Help!"
Two officers then peeked through a set of French doors and saw Brennan with his hand over the womans mouth and his arm wrapped around her throat.
The officers drew their guns, kicked open the door, ordered Brennan to let go of the woman and placed the former judge in handcuffs. At the same time, a third officer was forcing his way through a back door.
"I immediately recognized the male subject as former 2nd Judicial District Judge John Brennan," one of the officers wrote in a report.
The woman told police that Brennan was upset because he wanted her to have sex with a prostitute and she refused.
He then chased her through the house and grabbed her by the hair and neck several times, she told police. At one point, the woman locked herself in a bedroom and removed a window screen in an attempt to escape, but the window was too high.
The woman told police that Brennan grabbed her hair and was going to "snap" her neck. She told police that she thought Brennan was going to kill her.
When questioned by police, Brennan said, "I didnt touch her" several times. He also told officers, "I would never hurt a woman."
"Mr. Brennan did emit an extremely strong odor of alcoholic beverage and his eyes were blood shot and watery and his speech was slurred," one officer wrote in his report.
Brennan was chief judge in the 2nd Judicial District in Albuquerque for nearly 20 years. On Memorial Day weekend 2004, he was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated and cocaine possession. He resigned from the bench shortly afterward.
Thats all from the Albuquerque Journal. Needless to say, Brennan responded to the earlier arrest by going to a rehab center, but as the news story tragically reveals, he has since backslid into listening to country music again.
The next time you find yourself dressed down by a judge, its worth imagining him or her dressed up like Judge Brennan when the police kicked in his door, "wearing only a mock turtleneck and gray underwear". No word on whether the underwear was gray when it came from the store.
Brennan, as the story says, was an extremely powerful judge for a very long time, with the power of assigning cases to fellow judges who played along with him.
Its hard to read the recent news stories without (a) feeling a tinge of pity for him; (b) feeling a great deal more pity for his wife (who was out of town — you dont suppose Brennan was basing more than his wardrobe choices on Risky Business, do you?); and (c) suspecting that his cocaine problem is/was a very severe one. Long-term cocaine use destroys the brain, and Brennans brain seems pretty much destroyed by this point.
Our Supreme Court responded to the scandal of his 2004 arrest by adopting the approach used by Catholic Church bureaucrats to deal with pedophile priests, treating it as a personal failing to be addressed with sorrowful discretion. (See the appendix to this opinion.)
The real scandal wasnt Brennans use of cocaine. It was his use of power. No matter how one tries, its not easy to avoid the suspicion that for some part of 20 years the court system in New Mexicos only large city was presided over by a cocaine addict. If so, then obviously his suppliers knew it. Of course, most cocaine dealers would be too scrupulous to take advantage of such information. Still …
Theres nothing remotely unique about the New Mexico legal establishments reluctance to engage in such irresponsible speculation. Prayer and penitence — thats the ticket. Oh, and harumph, too.
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