Chicago courts finally find an accused perp to deny bail to

The courts in Cook County, Illinois that serve Chicago are notorious for allowing dangerous suspects out in low or no bail. Part of the problem lies with the office of State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, which often does not seek high bail or fully present the risks to a judge. Part of the problem is Illinois’s bail reform law. And part of the problem is that some (not all) judges err on the side of letting the accused go, even those with long rap sheets.

Consider this case of a couple of days ago, via CWBChicago:

On Friday afternoon, Orland Park police arrested Nickolas Burch after they allegedly found him carrying a gun in a Louis Vuitton bag strapped over his chest at the Orland Square mall.

It happened just 18 days after Burch pleaded guilty to a reduced charge in a case that had him facing multiple counts of attempted murder, robbery, and other felonies stemming from a 2016 shooting in Lakeview. That was the second time he faced and beat attempted murder charges as an adult.

Prosecutors on Saturday charged Burch, 32, with two counts of Class X armed habitual criminal, one of the most serious criminal charges in the state short of murder, and misdemeanor resisting.

But they didn’t ask his bond court judge to hold Burch without bail. Nor did they tell her that he had just settled an attempted murder case to lesser charges 18 days earlier. Nor did they tell her that he was on federal electronic monitoring for a gun conviction. Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) records show that Burch is on parole for the Lakeview case. Prosecutors didn’t tell the judge about that, either.

Judge Barbara Dawkins set Burch’s bail at $5,000 — a fraction of the $50,000 that his own defense attorney asked for, according to court records. And she added electronic monitoring as a condition of release, even though he was already on electronic monitoring in the federal system. He will need to post a $500 deposit to get out of jail.

Five hundred bucks put what seems to me to be a habitual, violent criminal back in the street.

But yesterday saw someone denied bail in Cook County. Not someone accused of murder. Not even someone with a long rap sheet. No, the problem was the victim of the alleged crime. CWBChicago reports:

Angered by mounting parking ticket fines, a Chicago man repeatedly went to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s home over the past month while armed and then fired shots from his truck about a mile from her residence on Wednesday morning, according to prosecutors and police records.

Lightfoot “became alarmed and distraught” when she learned of the man’s repeated visits to her home on Monday, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said.

Joseph Igartua, 37, was ordered held without bail on felony charges of reckless discharge of a firearm and stalking by Judge Maryam Ahmad.

Joseph Igartua.

In fairness, Judge Ahmad is one of, if not the toughest judge in Cook County when it comes to bail.  I have followed her work with admiration.

But Igartua's crimes are pretty small potatoes, especially considering:

The officers temporarily seized a gun that Igartua was carrying, but they returned it after verifying that he had a valid concealed carry license, according to Murphy.

I am not pleading for lenient treatment of Igartua.  No, I wish other judges would follow Judge Ahmad's lead and keep obviously dangerous repeat felons behind bars awaiting trial.

Hat tip: Peter von Buol

Photo credit: Chicago Police Department via CWBChicago.

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