In Domestic Violence Court, promising first day of bail reform as cases get closer review

A holding cell in the Domestic Violence Courthouse in 2005. There were 16 cases of misdemeanor domestic violence before Judge Michael Hogan on Monday. Prosecutors sought to detain people in 14 of them.

Rich Hein/Chicago Sun-Times file

The first day of bail reform in Cook County’s Domestic Violence Court began an hour late Monday as even small cases now demanded more paperwork and closer review.

Advocates said they were encouraged by day’s end, saying court officials appeared to be giving more consideration to detaining people who are a threat.

“Overall, this was encouraging — and a bit of a relief,” said Amanda Pyron of the Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence. 

The Pretrial Fairness Act eliminates cash bail, but it allows people to be jailed if they are charged with violent crimes such as sexual assault and domestic attacks. Both misdemeanor and felony domestic violence charges are listed under the law as detainable.

On Monday, there were 16 cases of misdemeanor domestic violence before Judge Michael Hogan. Most of them involved a single count of domestic battery. 

Prosecutors sought to detain people in 14 of the cases. The judge granted their requests in five of them after evaluating the person’s criminal background and checking the assessment from Pretrial Services.

Still, Pyron found the breakdown “promising” because the proceeding “indicate that there will be judicial review of cases prior to detention.”

“I also feel this breakdown should assuage some of the concerns that all people accused of domestic violence would be detained, which did not happen, even on the first day,” Pyron added.

The day started with an apology from the judge. “Still working a few kinks out of the system,” Hogan said.

The first person to be ordered detained was a woman charged with misdemeanor domestic battery and simple assault following a fight with her sister and niece. The woman had three prior domestic battery arrests and two convictions — all with different complaining witnesses. 

Hogan pointed to her history of domestic violence and the Pretrial Services finding that she was at risk for committing other crimes. 

In another case in which Hogan granted a petition to detain, the defendant was accused of kicking his girlfriend about 20 times and choking her until she lost consciousness. The man, 28, had four prior domestic violence arrests all involving the same victim.

In a case in which Hogan decided against detention, a woman was charged with one count of misdemeanor domestic battery for allegedly striking her husband with a wiper blade. The man was in court Monday and said he did not wish to proceed with charges.

The woman was the sole financial provider for their household and two children, he explained. The judge acknowledged the victim’s request to have her back home and denied the petition to detain.

The one felony case before Hogan was Kiel Stock, 45, who was charged with aggravated battery and discharge of a firearm. Stock allegedly became angry when his wife, who planned to file for divorce, returned to their home with friends to gather belongings over the weekend. 

Stock shot a gun through the wall of their bedroom into their bathroom where his wife and friends were gathered, grazing his wife, according to prosecutors.

His attorney said Stock believed the group had left and was not shooting the gun with the intention to harm his wife. Stock, the director of technology at a tech start-up, had no criminal background. 

Hogan disagreed with the attorney’s chain of events, stating he believed Stock was firing at the victim. He ordered Stock to remain in custody pending trial. 

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