In Its Quasi-Legislative Capacity, Chino City Council Calls For Judge’s Ouster

In a rare display of judgmental concern over the independent function of the judiciary, the Chino City Council this week actively sought to second guess the decisions of a San Bernardino County Superior Court judge.
The council’s pointed criticism of Judge Cara Hutson, whose rulings they blamed for allowing the murderer of Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy Isaiah Cordero to remain at liberty during his lethal rampage, extended to asking San Bernardino Superior Court Presiding Judge Glenn R. Yabuno to force her resignation and, if he is unable to achieve that end, bar her from hearing criminal cases.
A letter dated February 7 signed by Mayor Eunis Ulloa and all five council members which does not mention Cordero’s killer, William Shae McKay, by name takes Hutson to task for not keeping McKay in custody while his sentencing was pending.“On December 29, 2022, Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy Isiah Cordero was brutally murdered by a career criminal who was unleashed upon him by the reckless ruling of San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Cara Huston, the letter states. “As elected officials, the safety and security of our community members and first responders has always been one of our priorities. We are compelled to write you this letter because Judge Hutson has demonstrated through her reckless judicious rulings that she is a threat to the safety of our community.”
The letter goes on to say, “we were outraged to learn that a judge who presides over residents in our city and county could have granted bail to this violent criminal she just convicted of his third strike for imprisoning and torturing someone. Judge Hutsom was aware that this career criminal had two previous strikes; one for being an armed felon who fled from police the the other for a brutal home invasion where he mercilessly beat his victims. Judge Hutson knew that this criminal would be facing a sentence of twenty-five years to life for his third strike, giving him no reason to return to court for sentencing and every incentive to resist arrest. Her decision to grant him bail instead of immediately remanding him to custody is the definition of recklessness.”
Furthermore, according to the letter, “Judge Hutson was an experienced [deputy] district attorney and is a tenured judge. She knew, or should have known, that it was highly probable that her decision to release a violent criminal with a history of resisting arrest and convicted of his third strike would cause harm to any police officer who stopped him or tried to take him into custody. Judge Hutson knowingly disregarded this clearly foreseeable risk, and Deputy Cordero paid for it with his life. Her decision to grant bail was not only reckless, but arguably illegal. California Penal Code Section 1166 was written to ensure violent career criminals were remanded into custody after a guilty verdict, not granted bail and provided yet another opportunity to terorize innocent victims.”
The letter then states, “We implore you as the presiding judge, to ask for the resignation of Judge Hutson, and if you are unable to secure her resignation, immediately re-assign her from criminal court responsibilities.”
Without explaining how it is known that outrage over Hutson’s ruling is widespread, the letter states, “We are not the only city council, or community, who has lost confidence in Judge Hutson’s discernment and commitment to protecting the innocent. The stakes are too high to allow her to rule on another case involving a violent repeat offender.”
In the model of U.S. Governance under the U.S. Constitution and the constitutions of virtually every state, there are divisions between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of those governments. Whle there is overlap between those separate branches and none of them are entirely free to function without some degree of accountability or being answerable to the expectations of the other two branches, each is supposed to function within its juristictional boundaries without being impacted by the separate authorities of its differing governmental counterparts.
In this way, the Chino City Council’s criticism of Hutson and her rulings is remarkable.
Two of the council’s members, Councilwoman Karen Comstock and Councilman Marc Lucio are, or were, law enrorcement officers. Comstock was until her retirement employed by the Chino Police Department, most recently as police chief. Lucio is currently a captain with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. to send a letter to Judge R. Glenn Yabuno, presiding judge of the Superior Court, stating that the stakes were too high to allow her to rule on another case involving a violent repeat offender.
Cordero’s December 29 death in Jurupa Valley came after McKay, a San Bernardino County resident convicted in November 2021 for false imprisonment, receiving stolen property, evading a police officer and making criminal threats, was released on $500,000 bail, which had been reduced from $950,000 by Judge Hutson. Prosecutors had sought a no-baiil hold on McKay.
The city council also consented to sending letters to State Senator Susan Rubio and Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez, both of whom represent Chino n the California Legislature, asking them to consider the impacts recently passed laws have had on law enforcement and communities, as well as making a proclamation in support of law enforcement and sympathy for the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in the aftermath of the on duty deaths of Cordero and Darnell Calhoun.
Mayor Ulloa defended the council’s intrusion into a province thought reserved for the judiciary branch of governments, saying, “I think it’s very important we start taking a stand on these issues,” she said.
-Mark Gutglueck

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