A new bond court judge debuts with a fresh mindset that restrains victims and frees violent men on recognizance bonds

Update November 1 — Chief Judge Timothy Evans announced today that Judge David Navarro will be the new acting presiding judge of the Pretrial Division. Judge Mary Marubio will be his top deputy as supervising judge, Evans said. Typically, the presiding judge is not expected to handle day-to-day court bond court duties in his new position. Marubio will likely continue to hear cases.

Evans did not make any announcements about Judge John Lyke’s new role, but Lyke was seen hearing felony criminal cases in the 26th Street criminal courthouse last week.

The chief judge’s statement also did not identify who will be replacing Navarro, Lyke, and a third judge who is expected to be reassigned from bond court duties.


This week, Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans is expected to officially announce changes to the roster of judges who set bail conditions for defendants in the city. As CWBChicago reported, three new judges began handling the city’s bond court sessions last week in advance of Evans’ formal announcement.

And one of those judges, Kelly McCarthy, gave an eye-popping performance in felony bond court Friday.

McCarthy set bail for 27 defendants during the session. She gave 22 of them recognizance bonds — including two charged with felony robbery. She refused to grant prosecutors’ requests to have several defendants held without bail, including one charged with attempted murder for allegedly beating, stomping, and choking his pregnant girlfriend for 20 minutes.

But that’s not all. In one case, even though nobody asked for it, McCarthy took the unprecedented step of ordering a robbery victim to show up in court to be served with an order to protect the man who allegedly robbed her at gunpoint.

Judge Kelly McCarthy | Facebook

In another case, prosecutors said a convicted felon admitted that a gun police found inside a purse in a car he was driving was his. Despite the alleged admission, McCarthy ruled there was no probable cause for the man to be detained because “obviously it’s not his purse.”

And when prosecutors made routine requests for her to hold defendants without bail for violating the bond terms in pending felony cases, McCarthy refused. Twice.

McCarthy is no stranger to the courts. Before being elected to the bench last year, she was a lawyer and supervisor in the public defender’s office. And, as strange as her decisions may seem, her Friday bond court session may provide Chicagoans with a glimpse of what lies ahead when Illinois outlaws cash bail in 2023.

Here are the details of some of the cases McCarthy heard Friday.

“Concerning”

In one case, a man who has a felony gun case pending in “restorative justice court” appeared before McCarthy to face a new gun charge. Cops last week saw him stuff a gun down his pants and run away, prosecutors said. The officers caught him and recovered the weapon, they said.

Prosecutors made a routine request of McCarthy: To have the man held without bail for violating the terms of bond in his pending case. Judges almost always grant such requests in felony cases. But not McCarthy.

“It is concerning to the court that he has a pending gun case and then picked up this matter,” McCarthy said. She then refused to hold him without bail for the violation and said he could go home on electronic monitoring by posting $2,000.

“Maximum conditions recommended”

Darien Green appeared in a CWBChicago report last November after he and other members of a shoplifting team allegedly entered the Macy’s store at Water Tower Place with baseball bats that they used to ward off security officers. Green was charged with armed robbery, but prosecutors allowed him to plead that down to retail theft for a probation sentence.

Friday, Green was charged with robbery and attempted robbery for two hold-ups at a Subway restaurant on the South Side.

A court worker who provides judges with suggested bail parameters told McCarthy that “maximum conditions” were recommended if she decided to release Green.

Instead, McCarthy gave him a recognizance bond and put him on electronic monitoring.

When Assistant State’s Attorney John Gnilka asked her to hold him without bail for violating the terms of his probation in the Macy’s case, McCarthy refused.

“It’s to protect everybody”

In a truly bizarre moment on Friday, McCarthy took it upon herself to order an armed robbery victim not to contact the man who allegedly robbed her. There were no allegations that the victim contacted the man, and none of the parties asked McCarthy to restrain a crime victim. But she did it anyway “to protect everybody.”

Prosecutors said the man and two others robbed the woman at gunpoint, and she managed to track them down by sifting through Facebook profiles and friends lists of people who live in her neighborhood. She found one of the other robbers’ profile pages and contacted them via Facebook. He agreed to return some of the money they took, prosecutors said.

She also learned the defendant’s name through Facebook research and provided it to the police.

Prosecutors asked McCarthy to hold the man without bail and, once again, the court worker told the judge, “maximum conditions recommended if released.” Not only did McCarthy refuse to hold the man without bail, she released him on his own recognizance with electronic monitoring.

But then things got really weird when a prosecutor made a routine request for McCarthy to enter a no-contact order to keep the alleged robber away from the victim and the victim’s home.

McCarthy agreed to do that and, with absolutely nobody asking her to do so, she instructed prosecutors to draft another order for the victim to stay away from the armed robber, too.

Gnilka, one of the prosecutors in court Friday, seemed puzzled by McCarthy’s desire to restrain a violent crime victim.

“The state has no authority to impose any orders or conditions on the victim,” Gnilka told McCarthy. “The victim is not on bond … I, as a state’s attorney, cannot serve this victim with any paperwork or order them to do anything.”

He reminded the judge that there were no indications that the woman harassed, intimidated, or did anything against the alleged armed robber. If she should ever do something like that, Gnilka said, then the man should file a police report, and the state might have grounds to take action.

That wasn’t good enough for McCarthy. She ordered the victim to appear in court this week to be served with a no-contact order.

“It’s to protect everybody,” she said.

“There’s still a heartbeat, so that’s good.”

In another case, it took Gnilka three minutes to explain everything an 18-year-old man allegedly did to his pregnant 17-year-old girlfriend during a physical attack that the victim said lasted 20 to 30 minutes.

The man became angry when the girl’s cat knocked something over in his apartment, Gnilka said. He hit the teen, who is in the sixth month of carrying his baby. When she screamed for him to stop suffocating her, the man put a pillow over her mouth, shoved her face into a couch, and even shoved his fingers down her throat to make her stop, according to the allegations.

That was just the beginning.

He pushed her into the TV and broke it. He dragged her into a bedroom closet, where he beat her and suffocated her until she urinated on herself. He rubbed her in the waste, dragged her into a bathroom, and kicked her as she lay on the floor, unable to move, Gnilka said. While she was incapacitated, she could hear the man choking her cats.

He returned to the bathroom with a mop, which he used to hit her before he placed a hammer around her neck and used it to lift her off the ground, Gnilka alleged. The man allegedly put her down after she started to black out from a lack of oxygen.

Next, he dragged her back to the bedroom closet, threw the mop at her, and told her to clean up her “mess,” Gnilka alleged. Another suffocation attempt followed, he said.

When the woman was finally able to get up, the man punched and kicked her to the ground, then stepped on her stomach and stomped on her chest, Gnilka continued.

Eventually, the woman was able to slip out of the apartment when the man took a break to look at his phone. She ran door-to-door looking for help until a woman let her use a phone to call her mom.

The girl’s mother took her to a hospital for treatment. Police said they could see cuts and bruises on the victim’s face and body.

Prosecutors charged the boyfriend with attempted murder, aggravated battery, and aggravated battery of a pregnant woman. Gnilka asked McCarthy to hold him without bail.

She said no.

The state’s allegations “sounded like a pretty lengthy beating occurred for little or no reason,” McCarthy said. Referring to the baby, the judge noted, “there is still a heartbeat, so that is good.”

But McCarthy said the man had “no other indicators of violence” and set his bail at $100,000. He’ll need to post 10% of that to get out of jail on electronic monitoring with a GPS device.

30.7%

McCarthy was elected to the bench last year by winning the Democratic primary with 30.7% of the vote. She then ran unopposed to win a seat on the bench.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com