A Cook County juvenile court judge’s decision to release a 14-year-old accused of shooting two men at the Argyle Red Line station without any sort of supervision on Friday was a stunner. Even in a county where low bail and a weak prosecutor’s office help make crime pay, the unconditional release of an accused two-time shooter on a technicality raised eyebrows.
But new questions arose over the weekend about exactly how long the boy had really been in custody and about the judge’s decision to set him free.
First, here’s what state law says about the arrest and custody of 14-year-old juveniles:
• Minors accused of violent crimes may be detained “in a county jail or municipal lockup” for up to 24 hours. Time spent transporting a minor does not count toward the 24 hour period.
• A minor “must be released from custody” after 40 hours if they are not brought before a judicial officer within that period.
The question on everyone’s mind this weekend was obvious: Is a two-hour technical error so extreme that the only possible remedy is to release an accused double-shooter back into the public without any kind of supervision to protect the public?
A Cook County State’s Attorney Office spokesperson on Friday said the judge, Linda Pauel, “made the finding that under the law, the minor must be released because he was held in custody for 42 hours by the Chicago Police Department and was not brought before a judicial officer within 24 hours.”
But police this weekend strenuously denied prosecutors’ claims.
“The interrogation and arrest lasted 21 hours and 44 minutes,” a CPD spokesperson said. The boy was then transferred to Cook County custody.
Police said the teen was taken into custody on the West Side at 5 p.m. on Wednesday; attempted murder charges were approved by prosecutors at 2:44 p.m. on Thursday; and the boy was then transported to the county’s juvenile detention center.
The “magic” 40th hour by which a judicial officer must have reviewed the teen’s case passed some 20 hours later, two hours before the boy was brought in for a bond hearing.
A police department source this weekend also said that the accused teen has an outstanding warrant from elsewhere in Illinois that should have prevented the judge from releasing him in any event.
But Cook County prosecutors say they were not aware of the downstate warrant and they never mentioned it to the judge.
Judge Pauel denied prosecutors’ requests that the teen be held despite the alleged two-hour technical infraction and Pauel further rejected the state’s request to put the boy on electronic monitoring as a safeguard.
The teen is due back in court on Monday morning for a follow-up hearing.
Paule is an associate judge of the county’s criminal court. She was appointed to the position in April 2014 and was reappointed in 2015. Her current term expires on June 30th.