Friday, February 10, 2017

EXTRA: ‘Not Guilty?’ It’s just a plea

I can already hear the rants and rages coming from people in response to the fact that four young people facing criminal charges for the beating of a teenager with mental disabilities entered pleas of “not guilty” on Friday.
HOOKS: Here comes da judge!

“How dare those f---ers (or whatever racial slur they prefer to use) plead NOT guilty” to the crime that we all got to see committed because someone pulled out their phone, video-recorded the beating, then put it on Facebook for the world to see.

YET BEFORE WE get worked up about Tesfaye Cooper and Jordan Hill, both 18, and sisters Tanisha and Brittany Covington (24 and 19, respectively), keep in mind that the purpose of the hearing Friday in Cook County Criminal Court was for their criminal case to be assigned to the judge who eventually will oversee their trial – or take their “guilty” plea if they choose to make one.

All of them have been held without bond at the Cook County Jail since their arrest last month. They’re not going anywhere. This was just the start of the process that can easily take a couple of years before the criminal case is resolved.

For those people who want to think criminals should just plead their guilt and take whatever punishment is handed down to them, it doesn’t work that way.
Covington, T.

In fact, the four people facing assorted criminal charges, including aggravated kidnapping and hate crimes, could not have entered a “guilty” plea on Friday even if they wanted to. They plead “not guilty,” get assigned to a trial judge, then at some future date attorneys for the prosecution and defense negotiate the actual outcome.
Covington, B.

THE NEWS FROM the courthouse on Friday was that it will be Judge William H. Hooks who will preside over the trial of the four. He’ll be the one who winds up getting his moment of international glory, because the Facebook aspect of this case ensures the “world will be watching” to see what becomes of the young people who allegedly beat up a white boy as a way of venting their anger at the election of Donald Trump.

Although personally, I think it’s possible to make too much of that angle. It really doesn’t matter what convoluted reasoning they had for the attack – it was the suffering that the 18-year-old victim who is diagnosed with schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder endured during the beating.

There is no real reason anyone should ever have to go through such an ordeal.

And I’m sure by the time this case is resolved (it often takes two years or so to get through a criminal case in Cook County), Judge Hooks will feel similarly spent.


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