A Cook County judge who was accused in court filings of making racist comments during a conference in his chambers in January has been reassigned until further notice, according to Cook County’s chief judge.
In a motion for substitution of judge filed earlier this month, attorney Matthew Fakhoury accused Judge William Hooks of making racist remarks about Middle Eastern men, along with other derogatory comments, during a conference for a defendant charged with aggravated domestic battery.
Fakhoury also filed an affidavit that accused Hooks of improperly communicating with the prosecutors on the case in an attempted cover-up. Judges are not allowed to speak to parties on one side of a case while those on the other side are unaware.
In a statement, Chief Judge Tim Evans said he issued an order assigning Hooks to “restricted duties” that do not include judicial work following a meeting Thursday by the Circuit Court of Cook County Executive Committee.
The reassignment is effective immediately, and was meant to “promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.” It will stay in effect until further order of the court.
The order said that if the allegations about Hooks’ comments — as well as the alleged ex parte communications with prosecutors, are true — it’s likely a violation of the Illinois Code of Judicial Conduct.
Chicago Tribune editors’ top story picks, delivered to your inbox each afternoon.
The comments were alleged to have happened in an off-the-record conference in chambers, so they weren’t recorded, nor was a transcript produced.
Hooks appeared before the committee with counsel on Thursday, the order said.
The defendant, Ryan Thomas, was indicted last June on four battery-related felony charges, and the case was assigned to Hooks’ courtroom, court records show.
On Jan. 17, the motion alleged, Hooks made “several inappropriate and derogatory comments” directed at Fakhoury and Thomas, including saying that Middle Eastern men are “controlling and abusive.”
Hooks referenced his service as a Marine, and said, according to the motion, while looking at Fakhoury, who is Arab American: “I would shoot and kill men like that from Middle Eastern countries.”
The reassignment is not the first time Hooks has been ordered away from the bench. In 2018, Hooks was temporarily reassigned to administrative duties and referred to anger management counseling.