On Friday, June 23, 2023, ABA Journal reported that Cook County, Illinois, Judge William Hooks has recused himself from a case after being accused of making racist comments. The allegations surfaced during an in-chambers discussion with a domestic abuse defendant and his Arab American lawyer.
The lawyer filed a recusal motion, claiming that Hooks referred to the defendant as a “punk” and made derogatory remarks about Middle Eastern men being controlling and abusive. This incident has sparked widespread outrage and raised concerns about the impartiality of the judiciary system.
According to the recusal motion filed by lawyer Matthew Fakhoury, Hooks made statements that were deemed “violent, discriminatory, racist, and antagonistic” during a private discussion. The motion alleges that Hooks referred to the domestic abuse defendant as a “punk” and went on to make derogatory remarks about Middle Eastern men, stating that they are also controlling and abusive. These comments were directed at the Arab American lawyer representing the defendant.
During the alleged conversation, Judge Hooks mentioned his military service and said that he would “shoot and kill men from Middle Eastern countries” while serving in the Marines.
In response to the recusal motion, Judge Hooks made the decision to recuse himself from the case. During a hearing, Hooks denied the allegations and deemed the recusal motion untimely and defamatory. However, he cited the “glare of publicity” as the reason for stepping down from the case.
Fakhoury expressed his shock, anger, and sadness in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. Fakhoury, with 20 years of experience, stated that he had never before encountered a situation warranting such a motion.
In a supplemental court filing, Fakhoury revealed additional information that adds another layer of complexity to the case. After filing the recusal motion, Hooks allegedly contacted the prosecutors who were present during the in-chambers discussion. The prosecutors informed Fakhoury about these ex-parte contacts.
According to Fakhoury, Hooks called one of the prosecutors and asked if she remembered the discussion, specifically mentioning the accusation of making discriminatory comments about “Arab men.” Hooks denied making such remarks. Additionally, Hooks approached another prosecutor at the courthouse and requested a private conversation about the situation. However, the prosecutor declined, citing instructions not to discuss the matter.
These allegations of witness interference and tampering further contribute to the controversy surrounding Judge Hooks and raise concerns about the integrity of the legal proceedings in this case.
Cook County Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Evans, through a spokesperson, refrained from commenting on behalf of Judge Hooks due to the pending nature of the case.
Source: ABA Journal