Judge accused of making racist comments now faces charges of 'witness interference and interference'

A judge who allegedly made racist remarks during a meeting with an Arab-American attorney and two prosecutors are now accused of improperly contacting prosecutors afterward in an apparent attempt to “harass and interfere with witnesses.”

“That conduct … clearly establishes that Judge (William) Hooks was unable to fulfill his ethical duties as a member of the judiciary in this or any other case,” attorney Matthew Fakhoury said in a court filing Thursday.

Fakhoury had complained in a motion last week that Hooks made racist and other inappropriate remarks during a January meeting in his room with Fakhoury and two prosecutors to discuss the pending domestic violence case.

Hooks “stereotypically” comments about people accused of domestic violence and says, “Middle Eastern men are also controlling and abusive,” according to the motion.

“I will shoot and kill such people from Middle Eastern countries,” Hooks continued, referring to his military service, the motion said.

In his motion, Fakhoury seeks a new judge in the case because he thinks Hooks cannot be fair and impartial.

During the motion hearing on Thursday, Hooks walked away from the case. It will now go before Criminal Division Chief Judge Erica Reddick on Friday to be transferred.

Fakhoury made the new allegations in an additional filing Thursday, saying the judge incorrectly summoned prosecutors who were in the room during the January meeting to discuss their memories of it.

Judges are prohibited by law from discussing cases with only one of the parties involved present.

Fakhoury said details of the conversation were provided by the state attorney's office in a “disclosure notice” sent to attorneys. It stated that Hooks summoned two assistant state attorneys involved in the case Monday, although neither responded to the calls.

Hooks followed up the call with a text message to one of the prosecutors, writing that he should “call me please” and adding that the matter was “quite important”.

The state's assistant attorney said that prompted him to return the call, during which Hooks asked if he remembered the meeting and told him that Fakhoury had filed a motion alleging he had “said something discriminatory against an Arab man.”

Hooks asked if he remembered the meeting and insisted that “he would never say anything like that and that he would call him if he did.” The conversation made prosecutors “uncomfortable” and he “didn't know how to respond,” according to the disclosure statement.

Hooks then refers to a news article about Fakhoury's motion for the new judge. “Judge Hooks said he was interested in the timing of the article because he had ‘something profitable' coming up,” according to the filing.

On Wednesday, Hooks went to another prosecutor at the Leighton Criminal Court Building and asked to speak to him in his bedroom, the filing said. During that meeting, Hooks told prosecutors, “I just want to say about this whole situation, I hope you know I didn't threaten to kill the guy,” according to the disclosure statement.

The prosecutor interrupted the judge and said he had been instructed not to speak to anyone about the matter, including the judge, the state filed. Hooks says he understands and the conversation ends.

In his filing, Fakhoury called the judge's attempt to discuss the matter with prosecutors outside of his presence as “not only unprofessional, unethical and illegal but could escalate to the level of interference and witness tampering.”

“The cover-up of Judge Hooks' prejudiced, offensive, unethical and racist behavior … is further evidence of his personal bias against me and my client,” he continued.

Reached for comment on Thursday, Fakhoury said he commends prosecutors for alerting him promptly to the communications, saying it “took courage for them to do it.”

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

Judge Timothy C. Evans, head of the Cook County court system, did not comment on the allegations.