On Thursday, June 29, 2023, Chicago Tribune reported that Cook County Judge William Hooks had been reassigned from his judicial duties until further notice following allegations of making racist comments during an in-chambers discussion.

The accusations were made by attorney Matthew Fakhoury, who filed a motion for substitution of Judge Hooks claiming that the latter made derogatory remarks about Middle Eastern men and engaged in improper ex parte communications with prosecutors. This incident has raised concerns about the impartiality of the judiciary.

During an off-the-record conference in his chambers, Judge Hooks allegedly made several inappropriate comments towards Fakhoury and his client, a defendant charged with aggravated domestic battery. The attorney claimed that Hooks referred to the defendant as a “punk” and made disparaging remarks about Middle Eastern men, stating that they are controlling and abusive. These comments were specifically directed at Fakhoury, who is Arab American.

In response to the alleged racist comments, Fakhoury filed a motion for substitution of judge, seeking Hooks’ recusal from the case and arguing that Hooks’ statements were violent, discriminatory, racist, and antagonistic, and therefore compromised the defendant’s right to a fair trial.

Judge Hooks appeared before the Circuit Court of Cook County Executive Committee to address the allegations made against him. He denied the accusations and deemed the motion for substitution of judge untimely and defamatory. However, in light of the “glare of publicity” surrounding the case, Hooks made the decision to recuse himself from the proceedings.

Following the allegations and the decision to recuse himself, Judge Hooks had been reassigned from his judicial duties until further notice. Chief Judge Tim Evance issued an order assigning Hooks to “restricted duties” that do not involve judicial work. The reassignment was effective immediately and aimed to enhance public trust in the judiciary’s integrity and fairness. It will remain in place until further order of the court.

According to the order, if the accusations regarding Hooks’ remarks and alleged ex parte communications with prosecutors were true, it would likely constitute a violation of the Illinois Code of Judicial Conduct.

 

Source: Chicago Tribune