I think we should probably start a forum to list judges that are lenient towards drunk and otherwise dangerous drivers. We can review this list when it comes time to vote to retain the judge. I searched the forum, but have not found a similar thread.
Judge William H. Hooks - sentenced Ryne San Hamel to 10 days in jail for the aggravated DUI that killed Bobby Cann
Judge William Hooks has been yanked from the bench (temporarily?).
Streetsblog, "Judge Nicholas Ford gave Robert Vais, the driver who struck and killed cyclist Hector Avalos while drunk, a relatively light sentence of 100 days in a state prison plus two years probation. Vais must also perform manual labor as part of the Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program once a month for two years, and undergo drug and alcohol treatment."
Mount Prospect in 2016:
Cook County judge on Friday issued a $150 fine with supervision to the driver of an SUV that struck and killed a Mount Prospect mother of five as she was riding her bike in a local crosswalk earlier this year.
Cook County Circuit Court Judge Samuel J. Betar III fined Hanna Burzynska, 56, of Elk Grove Village, $50 for each of the three traffic tickets she was issued as the driver involved in the fatal accident on June 9 that led to the death of Joni Beaudry, 55, who had activated the crossing signal and was riding her bike at the crosswalk at Central Road and Weller Lane.
Judge Paula Marie Daleo
What do we think is the appropriate punishment for a driver who, through carelessness or intoxication, kills someone else with their car?
What sentence would we want these judges to impose?
I'm sure we've ALL driven a car after having a beer or cocktail. And we 'lucked out,' because no one biked or jumped in front of our car unexpectedly, where sudden evasive driving was required.
Personally I think THERE IS NO appropriate punishment when you accidentally kill someone. The guilt would be with you forever...isn't that the worst punishment?
I spent one night in jail for a trespassing charge years ago...and that one night altered my behavior for the rest of my life. Let's hope that SanHamel experiences a similar awakening during his ten days in jail.
Does anyone know of a judge who has been 'voted' off the bench by this current judge 'approval' ballot we are all confronted with at each general election? Numerous legal groups ALREADY publish judge ratings for voter guidance. But to my knowledge, none of those 'disapprove' ratings have cost a judge his job.
I am very conflicted. I agree that society needs to take cyclists seriously and that when cyclists are injured or killed on the road that those responsible need to be held accountable. I am baffled by the seemingly light dispositions in the criminal cases that have been discussed on this forum. That being said I have issues with judges being scapegoated and I have a continuing strong opinion that civil rather criminal remedies are the only ones that really matter.
First, on my continuing diatribe that civil remedies matter. Taking a pound of flesh from San Hamel and others makes us feel good and makes us feel that we have some retribution but it never, ever, brings back a Bobby Cann. It never, ever does anything other than give some sense of pleasure to the families of the victims. When a family is left without their son, their daughter, their breadwinner, their love a civil remedy....MONEY... can help pay the bills can help send the kids to school, can help the families do something charitable in their loved one's name. It may seem crass to some but this is all that is ever going to help.
On the subject of judges...voting no for all is very bad advice. I advocate the opposite. vote yes for all judges with the exception of those who are incompetent or unethical. Read all the bar association reviews and do not just read one. They do not always agree but when they do it is a powerful indicator for or against a judge. Look at groups such as the Chicago Council of Lawyers and groups representing women lawyers and lawyers of color. The no votes will scream at you after looking at a handful of these recommendations. I cannot explain what happened with Judge Hooks and Judge Betar. I did not follow close enough. All I can say is that I have had experience with these two and find them highly competent and ethical judges. Before summarily writing them off please look at their body of work and how they are seen by these associations on that body of work. How have the judges ruled in other cases? Perhaps, did the judges take into account that they were aware of a civil remedy? I do not know. Would they have ruled the same way if a driver with no insurance took somebody's life?
Don't be a single issue voter. I don't think I have to tell any of you how destructive single issue voting can be. How many anti abortion voters deciding that Hillary was the devil voted for our current President simply because he reassured them he would pick anti abortion Justices for the Supreme Court? Take issues like cycling into account but do not make those issues a litmus test especially with one case out of hundreds or thousands at stake. This might be different with a legislator but with a judge we have to ask is the judge anti cycling or did the judge rule in a way that seems anti cycling on a single case.
Point taken about reading bar association reviews. For the last few elections, I've made a point to read them and vote NO for those who are considered unqualified or not recommended by the bar associations. More people should take the time to do this. Good judges should get retention votes.
Regarding your comment about Judge Hooks being highly competent and ethical, I have a comment from a CPD officer who has testified in many DUI cases before the judge. His comment: "Judge Hooks is a waste of oxygen. He doesn't take cases like Bobby Cann's death and other DUI cases that have a significant impact on people's lives seriously enough. He often seems to have more sympathy for the drunk driver than for the victim." That is one officer's opinion. Your mileage may vary.
Another comment from the same officer. "Thorough ongoing professional training for CPD officers is spotty. Too few get special training in handling DUI incidents. There are on-scene tests that are very effective at assessing level of intoxication for even 'career drunks', who can fool officers who aren't experienced at handling DUIs. These tests require special training, which most officers don't get. Lack of this training can result in inept handling of a DUI incident."
This officer's opinion is that responding officers at the scene and the state's attorney seriously compromised the case. He said that procedural errors were made by the responding officers on what should have been a slam dunk case against San Hamel.
In this type of incident and many others, investing in more thorough training for CPD officers (as well as rooting out the old school culture of favoritism that hides discipline problems until they are later exposed in problematic incidents like the Laquan McDonald shooting) is an essential step to getting the Cook County justice system closer to what it should be - a system that dispenses fair and equal justice, not unfairly punishing regular people and letting those with money and connections slide.
The training issue was exposed in the recent FBI report about CPD. The discipline and favoritism aspect did NOT get exposure there. That aspect of CPD's problems is a cancer at the heart of the system.
It's not just the judge, it's our attorney as well. We get to vote to elect our attorney every four years, and our attorney, as well as the assistant assigned, is just as culpable at the judge when a lenient sentence is handed down and not strongly opposed by our attorney, the States Attorney.
You mean State's Attorney, right? Yes, the quality of the work done by the State's Attorney is critical in a case like this. If it's not solid, a good defense attorney can pick it apart.