The Chainlink

Hector Avalos’ Family Needs Your Help on Thursday, August 20, 2015

Chainlink event here.

You’ve likely heard the tragic story of Hector Avalos, an avid cyclist and Marine veteran.  While Hector was  cycling home from his job in December 2013, he was struck and killed by a motor vehicle driven by an allegedly drunk, clout-heavy Stroger Hospital administrator.

If you’re unfamiliar with these events, Streetsblog Chicago has posted a series of articles over the past 1...  (Start from the bottom-most article and work your way upwards ).

Robert Vais’ journey through the legal system has been an understandably exhausting and frustrating experience for Hector’s family as it has transpired over the past 18+ months.  Now they really can use your help as they seek justice.

On August 20, a 402 Conference will take place.  Please read this Streetsblog article for more detail, but the important takeaway is that following the 402 conference the judge will propose a recommended sentence for Vais.

Simply by attending this hearing, you can send a strong message to the judge and all involved parties that this case and its ultimate disposition is both visible and of the utmost concern to the Chicago cycling community (and registered voters within that community).  Your attendance could help make a significant impact on any possible sentencing agreement.

Participation could not be more simple—simply show up at the courthouse on August 20 for the 10:00 AM session and sit with your fellow concerned cyclists.  We’ll all rise and stand as one when the case is called before the judge; as you might imagine, the larger the number of gathered cyclists, the more impressive such a display is.

Here’s some specifics:

  • where:  Cook County Criminal Courthouse, 2600 S. California Ave, room 702
  • when:  Thursday, August 20, 2015.  Court is scheduled to start at 10:00 AM.  I would highly recommend scheduling your arrival so that you’re in line to pass through the security checkpoint no later than 9:45 AM.

It’s very difficult to know how long to expect to spend at the courthouse.  In the past, it’s rarely taken longer than 2 hours before this case has been called and the issues of that particular day have been addressed.  It’s certainly possible that it may take longer on August 20 due to the 402 Conference, but there’s no way of really knowing.

Cell phones are not allowed past the security checkpoint.  For attendees riding bicycles or utilizing CTA to get to the hearing, there are some rentable lockers just inside the front entrance of the courthouse where you may keep your cell phone during the proceedings, but they are often over-utilized and the availability of an open locker is not guaranteed.  Also, if you plan on trying to use these lockers you should show up no later than 9:30 AM as the line to rent a locker is often lengthy.  Also, please note that these lockers are only large enough for a phone—there is absolutely no chance of fitting a pannier, backpack or messenger bag in one of them.

There are 2 bike racks on either side of the courthouse’s front entrance, but they are often full by 9:30.  Alternate lock-up possibilities are the heavier/thicker bars of the fence across the street from the entrance and there are some non-sucker pole signs outside of the parking garage directly across the street from the courthouse.

If you’re attending by car, you should park in the free employee/jury parking garage just east of the courthouse.  No credentials are needed; if you are asked by someone why you’re parking there simply tell them you’re a court advocate.  (You won't be asked).

There have been several appeals here on the Chainlink for attendance at this hearing, but I believe they’ve been part of various existing threads, so I’m posting this in hopes of some increased visibility and subsequent increased attendance at the hearing.

I'm happy to answer any questions about the mechanics of attending this hearing either via this thread or PM.

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Thank you for posting this Andrew!  Good plan to make this a new thread and give it a little more attention and many thanks for your efforts.  Hopefully it will reach a few people that are free that day to attend this hearing. 

I second Lee's post - Much appreciated. I didn't have all of the helpful details. I plan to attend. I added your post as a link to the event. Thanks!

Lee, thanks for the nudge; Yasmeen, thank you for adding info to the event listing and including details in last week's newsletter.

Chainlinkers, please come out tomorrow morning if you're able.  Your attendance could make a real difference in the case's final disposition.

Feel free to post any questions you might have.  I am currently planning on riding tomorrow morning, but if carpool availability will allow someone from Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Bucktown, Wicker Park, Belmont-Cragin, E Garfield Park, West Town, Ukrainian Village, etc. to attend who otherwise couldn't, I'm happy to drive.  Similarly, if anyone else who's cycling is concerned about not having a place to stow phones, bags, helmets, etc, I'd be happy to drive and make my car available for such.  Just drop a line here or PM me if interested.

Amazing turnout today that easily surpassed that of any previous court sessions for this case by several factors.  Overheard an attorney for another case comment that they'd never seen that many people in that courtroom save for cases where police officers were victims or principals.

Thank you to those that came out yesterday. It was good to see such a strong turn out and I wanted to share this post with you. A member of the family posted this to the Chainlink FB thread, "Overall, a positive day of justice for Hector. There was big turnout of advocates, friends and family. On behalf of Hector and family, a deep Thank You!"

We have one more court date they will need our help for - the sentencing. I'll post the information as soon as I receive it.  Thanks again.

In the original post, Andrew said this was a "402 Conference"  - "On August 20, a 402 Conference will take place.  Please read this Streetsblog article for more detail, but the important takeaway is that following the 402 conference the judge will propose a recommended sentence for Vais."

Did the judge recommend a sentence?

 What was recommended?

  Is it the next court date when the defense accepts or rejects the recommended sentence?

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