Judge recuses after he is accused of declaring that Middle Eastern men are abusive

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According to a recusal motion, Cook County, Illinois, Judge William Hooks called a domestic abuse defendant a “punk” and told the Arab American lawyer defending him that “Middle Eastern men are also controlling and abusive.” Image from Shutterstock.

Updated: A judge in Cook County, Illinois, has agreed to step down from a case after a lawyer alleged he made statements that are “violent, discriminatory, racist and antagonistic” during an in-chambers discussion.

According to a recusal motion, Judge William Hooks called a domestic abuse defendant a “punk” and told the Arab American lawyer defending him that “Middle Eastern men are also controlling and abusive.”

The Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Tribune and WGN 9 covered the motion filed by lawyer Matthew Fakhoury.

“I would shoot and kill men like that from Middle Eastern countries” while serving in the Marines, Hooks allegedly said.

Hooks said he had already served in the military and had become a lawyer by the time that he was the defendant’s age. Yet Hooks said he grew up in a neighborhood that was “rougher and grittier” than the one where the defendant grew up.

If the defendant was in Hooks’ neighborhood, he would get jumped, Hooks reportedly said.

“Let’s see what the boys in County do to him,” Hooks allegedly said, apparently referring to violence at the Cook County Jail.

The Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times covered Hooks’ decision to recuse himself during a hearing Thursday.

Hooks denied the allegations at the hearing and said the recusal motion was untimely and defamatory. He said he was recusing from the case because of the “glare of publicity.”

The 26-year-old defendant, Ryan Thomas, is accused of striking a woman in the head with a glass. He is charged with felony domestic battery.

Fakhoury told the Chicago Tribune that his initial reaction was shock, followed by anger and sadness.

“I’ve never in 20 years filed a motion like this,” Fakhoury said.

In a supplemental court filing Thursday, Fakhoury said that, after he filed his motion, Hooks called prosecutors who were present during the in-chambers discussion. The prosecutors disclosed the ex-parte contacts to Fakhoury.

According to Fakhoury, one of the prosecutors returned Hooks’ call. Hooks allegedly asked her whether she remembered the in-chambers conference and said he had been accused of saying something discriminatory about “Arab men.” Hooks allegedly said he would never have said something like that.

Hooks allegedly asked the other prosecutor to speak with him in chambers about the situation after seeing him at the courthouse. The prosecutor said he had been instructed not to speak about the matter.

Cook County Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Evans said through a spokesperson he could not comment on Hooks’ behalf because the case is pending, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Hooks did not immediately respond to a voicemail left by the ABA Journal.

Updated June 23 at 8:30 a.m. to reflect a new headline and add information that Judge William Hooks has recused from the case.

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