The prosecutor’s office in Cook County, Illinois has been consistently asking that Judge James Linn be removed from hearing cases involving sexual crimes after he gave what prosecutors considered to be too lenient a sentence (18 years) back in 2013. According to this article, Linn hasn’t presided over a sex case since November 2013, after having overseen more bench trials involving sex crimes than any other Cook County judge the previous 13 years.
The facts came out during a broader investigation into the prosecutor’s office using a tactic called a motion for substitution of judge (SOJ) where, for no articulated reason, the prosecutor’s office can simply request a different judge if they (for any reason) don’t want the one assigned to the case. In Judge Linn’s case, “In less than two years following his controversial handling of Fultz’s case, Linn was bounced from at least 25 sex cases using SOJs, about four times more than the next closest judge”. even more curious, court officials that “randomly” assign judges to cases, aware of the state’s attorney’s campaign, largely stopped assigning sex cases to Linn.“We’ve been SOJing (Linn) on sex cases so long that the last two presiding judges do not even send them to him,” wrote Joseph Magats, then-chief of the state’s attorney’s criminal prosecutions bureau.
The investigation was not limited to Linn and sex offense cases, The investigation also found that prosecutors would SOJ Judge Ann Finley Collins on drunken-driving cases, And one judge, Leo Holt complained that the state’s attorney’s office was removing serious felony cases from his call (he was Black and a former civil rights attorney who had defended, among others, Martin Luther King, Jr.). Another black judge, James L. Rhodes, who handled juvenile cases felt the same. He was quoted in the article as saying, “Their idea with what to do with juveniles is just to lock everybody up, Since I didn’t agree with that…they didn’t want to send cases to me.
It sure sounds to us like a method prosecutors in Cook County, Illinois use to cherry pick judges they think will give them the best chance of winning.