Attorney accuses Cook County judge of making racist comments in domestic abuse case

Attorney Matthew Fakhoury said Judge William Hooks ‘stereotypically’ commented about people accused of domestic violence and said, ‘Middle Eastern men are also controlling and abusive.’

SHARE Attorney accuses Cook County judge of making racist comments in domestic abuse case
Judge William Hooks poses for a portrait in his office on May 28, 2021 at the the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.

Judge William Hooks poses for a portrait in his office in 2021 at the the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

A Cook County judge is accused of making racist comments while meeting with an Arab American lawyer in the judge’s chambers earlier this year.

In a motion to have the judge replaced, attorney Matthew Fakhoury said Judge William Hooks “stereotypically” commented about people accused of domestic violence and said, “Middle Eastern men are also controlling and abusive.”

“I would shoot and kill men like that from Middle Eastern countries,” Hooks continued while referring to his military service, according to the motion.

Fakhoury, who said he is a first-generation Arab American, called the comments “concerning and disturbing, as it shows a blatant lack of impartiality as to the way Judge Hooks treats criminal defendants.”

“By making these extremely violent comparisons, it is apparent that Judge Hooks equates Mr. Thomas with people he not only finds deplorable but has killed,” the filing argues.

Fakhoury’s client, Ryan Thomas, 26, faces felony domestic battery charges after he allegedly struck a woman he was dating in the head with a glass, court records show. The case first appeared in Hooks’ courtroom last year.

The alleged comments occurred during a conference in January during which Hooks was to review the evidence against Thomas and announce the sentence he would hand down if Thomas were to plead guilty.

Others in the meeting included members of Thomas’ defense team and an assistant state’s attorney, the motion states.

The judge repeatedly referred to Thomas as a “punk” and said at one point, “Let’s see what the boys in County do to him,” an apparent reference to Cook County Jail, according to the filing.

During the meeting, Hooks compared his life as an African American to Thomas’ life as an African American, including the judge saying the neighborhood he had grown up in was “rougher and grittier” than the one Thomas grew up in, the motion states. The judge also made “demeaning comments” when comparing his own accomplishments to the defendant’s by the time each was in their early 20s, according to the filing.

In asking for a new judge, Fakhoury said Hooks’ comments show he could not be fair and impartial.

“The statements made by Judge Hooks are more than a difference of opinion as to domestic battery cases — these statements are his personal bias against Mr. Thomas and Mr. Fakhoury,” the motion states. “Additionally, these statements are violent, discriminatory, racist and antagonistic.”

The case has been set for a status hearing on Thursday.

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