Hold judge accountable if she ‘refused’ to cooperate in DUI investigation
Naturally, we hold judges to a higher standard. We expect that they practice what they preach on the bench on their off hours.
Every day, judges in courtrooms across the country admonish men and women for breaking the law.
Whether it’s at a bond hearing for a retail theft charge or a sentencing for a murder conviction, these high-ranking jurists often tell defendants they could have stayed out of trouble if they had just obeyed the rules.
So naturally, we hold judges to a higher standard. We expect that they practice what they preach on the bench during their off hours.
But we’re also not naive. We know judges can screw up and flout the law.
They can also be accused of being tight-lipped with authorities when their friends make mistakes, as WBEZ’s Dan Mihalopoulos revealed in a recent story on a Cook County judge’s DUI.
Cook County Circuit Judge Mary Kathleen “Katie” McHugh “refused” to speak to an officer after her Bridgeview courthouse colleague — also a judge — drunkenly crashed her Audi SUV into a parked car in Hinsdale on Nov. 23, police in the western suburb said.
Cook County Associate Judge Mohammed Ghouse has since pleaded to a misdemeanor DUI and has been assigned to administrative duties at the Daley Center by Chief Judge Tim Evans.
Evans’ spokeswoman didn’t comment on McHugh’s behavior on the night of the crash but said the office sent all information about the incident to the state’s Judicial Inquiry Board.
McHugh, who was in the SUV with Ghouse along with defense attorney Francis Morrissey, has not been disciplined for any impropriety.
We can only go on what the interrogating officer had said.
But if McHugh flatly refused to cooperate with police, she should be held accountable like the many defendants who have come before her have.
The public would never have known that McHugh and Morrissey had been with Ghouse if WBEZ hadn’t taken legal action against Hinsdale officials to access the names of the SUV’s passengers at the time of Ghouse’s arrest.
When Ghouse was questioned by police, he denied he had been drinking and indicated he was a judge.
Ghouse also refused a field sobriety test even though others noticed he reeked of alcohol and the arresting officer noted that his eyes were “glassy and bloodshot” and that “he was swaying back and forth,” Mihalopoulos reported.
Many DUI suspects are smug and dishonest about how much they drank when they’re in the hot seat. But as a judge, Ghouse should know better than to lie to police and casually drop what he does for a living.
Ghouse is facing the music for his foolish actions even though he’s still getting paid his six-figure salary.
If McHugh withheld information from police as they investigated Ghouse’s DUI, she should also suffer the consequences.
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