Cook County judge removed from judicial duties after accusations of racist comments and witness tampering

Cook County Judge William Hooks is accused of making racist remarks about Arab American men during a January meeting and improperly contacting prosecutors afterwards.

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Judge William Hooks

Judge William Hooks has been removed from judicial duties after he was accused of making racist comments and interfering with witnesses.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times (file)

A Cook County judge accused of making racist remarks and of “witness interference and tampering” has now been removed from judicial duties.

Judge William Hooks made inappropriate and racist comments about Arab American men in a January meeting with prosecutors, attorney Matthew Fakhoury claimed in a recent court filing.

The judge then contacted prosecutors who were also at the meeting, a move Fahhoury said amounted to witness tampering.

On Thursday, the Cook County Circuit Court executive committee responded with a special order authorizing an investigation by the court system’s Judicial Inquiry Board and “assigning Judge Hooks to restricted duties or duties other than judicial duties.”

Chief Judge Timothy Evans said the order “was issued to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary and is effective immediately.”

Hooks is accused of a variety of remarks, including speaking “stereotypically” about people accused of domestic violence, records show. “Middle Eastern men are also controlling and abusive,” Hooks said in the January meeting, according to Fakhoury’s motion.

“I would shoot and kill men like that from Middle Eastern countries,” Hooks continued, referring to his military service, the motion stated. Fakhoury requested a new judge, arguing Hooks couldn’t be fair and impartial, and Hooks removed himself from the case.

Another filing said Hooks improperly contacted prosecutors who were present at the January meeting to discuss their memory of the events. Judges are legally forbidden from discussing a case with one party while the other side is absent.

Initially missing the call, one assistant state’s attorney called back after receiving texts from Hooks, the motion said. Once on the phone, Hooks asked if she recalled the meeting and told her that Fakhoury had filed a motion alleging he had “said something discriminating against Arab men.”

Hooks insisted that “he would never say something like that and that she would have called him out on it if he did.” The prosecutor was “uncomfortable” during the call and she “did not know how to respond,” according to the disclosure statement.

Hooks then saw another prosecutor last week at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse and tried to speak with him in chambers, telling him, “I just wanted to say about this whole situation, I hope you know I did not threaten to kill that man,” according to a disclosure statement filed by the state’s attorney’s office.

The prosecutor interrupted the judge and declined to discuss the matter further, the filing stated, and the conversation ended.

Fakhoury has called the judge’s alleged actions “not only unprofessional, unethical and illegal but may also rise to the level of witness interference and tampering.”

He continued: “The attempted cover-up of the prejudicial, offensive, unethical and racist conduct exhibited by Judge Hooks ... is further evidence of his personal bias against me and my client.”

Hooks couldn’t be reached for comment.

Fakhoury declined to comment Thursday but told the Chicago Sun-Times last week that the prosecutors displayed courage by informing him of the contact they had with Hooks following the accusations.

“This shows that no one is above the law, including Judge Hooks,” Fakhoury said last week.

Contributing: Matthew Hendrickson

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