Archive for November, 2009


Mary Healey’s observation

Nov. 16, I returned to courtroom 2 and saw my first woman defendant, a middle aged Mexican who was stopped for driving drunk without a license nor insurance nor legal residency. She was asking for bond. The judge noted that she had been deported from the U.S. in 2003 and returned, had considerable family in Chicago and owned a car. He set bond at $9500 and told her to return Nov. 23 in the afternoon. The guard from McHenry asked the two family members in the courtroom if they wanted to talk with her before she returned to jail and told them in what room they could meet her. I have been impressed each time with the courtesy the judge and the officers in court show to prisoners.

On other visits most of the prisoners were on TV and interpreters in the courtroom. This time the defendants were there and an interpreter on TV. Because the defendants were close to the judge, he and they spoke softly. I couldn’t hear well.

Next two young men came. The older one has been arrested 10 times for some violent offenses and some drug offenses; I couldn’t hear how many convictions. His lawyer on TV asked for a copy of the record which the judge ordered to be faxed to him and told them both to return Nov. 23.

The other, only 18, has been in the U.S. 15 years and still lives with his parents. From age 13 he has continually been in trouble with police, has spent time in the juvenile home, and belongs to a gang. He says that the same policeman arrested him repeatedly while he tried to stay out of trouble. He offered the fact that he has attended school as if that extenuates his burglaries and batteries. No member of his extended family is a permanent resident. He is ineligible for permanent residency because of a cocaine conviction. The judge ordered him deported to Mexico .

Five men who are out on bond were supposed to come next. Two showed up on time, one with a lawyer. Two more came late. The fifth came very late after the proceedings had begun. They all needed the Spanish interpreter. The lawyer apparently had just been hired and spent the time filling out forms; she asked for time to prepare. Three of the other four said they wanted lawyers and were given lists. A fifth said he would defend himself. The judge advised him to think it over. All were told to return Dec. 8.

Mary Healey


Court Watch Observation Jim Hoffman OFM 11-12-09

COURT WATCH REPORT Thursday Nov. 12, 09 Court 1 Judge Katsivalis 9-11AM

All told, there were nine family members, including two African young men, present. There were 5 lawyers present. Lawyer fees are notoriously high. I wonder who pays their fees as often they just sit in court waiting for their case to be called. The respondents, handcuffed, were also present in their orange or tan McHenry County jump suits. The accompanying federal officer always referred to the respondents as “gentlemen.”

The cases today involved removal of the respondents and they were continuance hearings. The respondents languages: “Som” (I presume Somali), Spanish and English. A translator was available for the Spanish speakers. Most of the conversation was between the judge and the lawyer and it concerned paperwork/documentation – documentation of arrests and time served and proper forms for whatever the respondents were seeking from the judge. (I don’t know what form “I-290”, etc., means.) Two of the Spanish speaking respondents were there for their fourth continuance; they did not have lawyers. The Judge was a little perturbed. One said that he had spoken with a lawyer from Legal Aid the day before but that lawyer was not present in court today. The other wanted to waive his right to a lawyer. The latter’s family member had brought a packet of papers which he gave to the federal officer who in turn gave it to the respondent. The packet contained documents which were eventually given to the judge Their hearings also were continued.

I had to leave before the respondent related to the two African young men’s case was called.

Submitted: Jim Hoffman OFM