CARLINVILLE -- After 22 years as an associate judge, Diane Brunton showed up at her usual time of 7:30 a.m. for what would be her last day on the job. A sheriff's deputy was waiting outside her chambers.
The deputy handed Brunton, 62, a judicial order dated that day, Jan. 6, signed by Macoupin County Circuit Judge Kenneth Deihl informing her that "in order to preserve the safety" of all who worked in the huge, 19th century stone courthouse, she was suspended with pay until further notice. The deputy told the shocked Brunton she was banned from the building and must gather up her belongings while he watched. He then escorted her outside and said that in the future, she must first get permission from the sheriff 24 hours in advance to enter what had been her workplace for more than two decades.
How arguably the hardest working judge in Macoupin County -- the circuit clerk said Brunton's docket routinely contained more cases than all other county judges combined -- was banished and eventually resigned Feb. 28 comes down to eight crucial words, "Smith and Wesson can take care of it."
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