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Bobby Cann Updates: Ryne San Hamel Pleads Guilty, Receives 10 Days in Jail

Jason Jenkins at ActiveTrans is helping to coordinate community response.  If there is any chance you can attend proceedings, please reach out to him: 

jason@activetrans.org.

 

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Best justice money can buy.

Prosecutors said in court Thursday that Cann had biked through a red light when he was hit.

San Hamel had the green light, but was traveling 60 mph in a 30 mph zone, in addition to being drunk, prosecutors said.

This was a major discussion in the trial, and it seemed to me like this is why the prosecutors pushed for such little jail time.

Unbelievable. Did they mention Ryne was in the wrong lane when he hit Bobby?

Also, if he was so filled with remorse, it's a little hard to swallow when he seemed more concerned with getting his expensive car back than giving the family the peace they needed to mourn their loved one (dragging it out for three and a half years). 

First Hector now Bobby. We need to change how we prosecute DUIs and DUI-related death. 

http://chi.streetsblog.org/2013/10/09/judge-turns-down-san-hamels-r...

Election 2016 results of the judge. Great job as usual America.

Judge 

William H. Hooks - Yes (969,082 votes)
William H. Hooks - No (340,964 votes)

While I similarly find the end results distressing and can certainly understand concerns about Judge Hook's decision-making in this case, he's a marked step up from many of his peers on the bench.  Here's one reason.

I think there is a valid argument that there are several factors that contributed to today's resolution and that Judge Hooks wasn't foremost amongst them.

Say what you will about the prosecution of the case, but he pled guilty to reckless homicide, the most serious charge he faced.  The prosecution couldn't have gotten a better result even if it went to trial.  They also asked for a minimum of 3 years.  

Regardless of Judge Hooks' record, he chose the sentence, and it's drastically light.  Shockingly so.  I mean, people have literally served more jail time for punching someone in the face while drunk in a bar fight.  Think about that for a moment.  

The point of justice isn't pure retribution, but simply being remorseful at the right time doesn't mitigate culpability.  

I actually didn't say anything about the prosecution of the case in my earlier post. (However, I will suggest now that I think both Duppie and Yameen made some insightful observations regarding such).

Maybe you feel Ryne San Hamel would have received a sentence that you found appropriate if another judge had been overseeing the proceedings.  If so, I am desperately envious of your optimism. Personally, I don't think I'd be feeling any less upset and disappointed this morning if a different member of the bench had been assigned to the case.  Between the next-to-zero value placed on cyclists by our society, infrastructure and traffic laws that don't adequately address cyclists as legitimate road users, overworked and under-resourced prosecutorial staff and an affluent defendant with top grade legal representation and whose family enjoys numerous political connections, is a sentence for RSH perceived as too light really a surprise? And is it possible that focusing outrage over that sentence on the judge is perhaps a bit myopic?

I share your anger and dismay.  But I feel strongly that a lot more than swapping out a judge has to happen to place cyclists in a position where we can ride to and from our homes, offices and places of leisure while feeling secure in knowing that should something terrible happen, the American justice system has our backs.

Ride safe, everyone.  RIP Bobby.

I took "several factors that contributed" to mean how the case was handled, but I guess I assumed too much.  

I'm not naive enough to think that merely swapping out the judge would have led to a different result---this is far from the first time a light sentence for a cyclist's death at the hands of a drunk driver has been handed out. 

That said, this was the Judge's decision.  We can have a larger conversation about how judges make this type of decision because society at large doesn't value cyclist safety high enough, and I agree judges are reaching these decisions largely because of those societal failings, but at the end of the day Judge Hooks still sentenced a defendant who pled guilty to a Class 3 felony to 10 days in jail.  Calling him out isn't myopic, it's how you start the ball rolling for real change IMHO, and until people in power are held accountable for decisions like this, society will simply continue to function as it has.   

I see no reason to let Judge Hooks off the hook (what a horrible pun).  The Brock Turner case illustrates how outrage at an individual judge's sentencing choice can be a strong motivator and conversation-starter for change in general regarding how cases and sentencing overall is approached.  True, let's work to change society's views on these issues, as that's needed to ensure this doesn't keep happening,  but I'd argue a great first place to start is by screaming loudly that how Judge Hooks exercised his discretion in this instance is completely inappropriate and uncalled for. 

I'm not giving him a pass for imposing a light sentence just because society at large is failing on these points. 

I'm not in any way suggesting Judge Hooks be given a pass for a troubling ruling---it's problematic, should be identified as such and definitely should enter people's voting calculus next time he's up for retention.  You make some very reasonable and compelling points that I really appreciate.  But despite yesterday's egregious decision, I still think Judge Hooks is a net gain for Cook County, and as such, I don't think in this particular instance that the judge is the best place "to get the ball rolling."

I can certainly understand how you might disagree.  I hope we can both agree it's going to take a lot of effort on a lot of different fronts to improve things for everyone.

Also, your pun was terrible, yet awesome and totally appreciated. :-)

People have served more jail time when they did nothing wrong simply because they were too poor to make bail before their charges were dismissed.  There are two justice systems in this country.  This is just the latest in a long line of examples.

The DNA info article refers to the judge as William J. Hooks. Anyone know if that is a different person or if the "J" is a typo?

It's a typo.

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