A full-page back section ad in a recent Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times defends San Bernardino Superior Judge Cara Hutson.
Hutson has been heavily criticized by some leaders in the Inland Empire after she lowered the bail for William McKay, a three-striker who was out on bail when he killed Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy Isaiah Cordero. According to the transcript of the bail hearing, she lowered bail to be in line with San Bernardino’s bail guidelines.
The ad, paid for by the California and Hawaii Chapters of the American Board of Trial Advocates, calls a petition to recall Hutson a politically motivated effort that intimidates judges.
One of the four who signed the advertisement is from the Inland Empire: Riverside attorney Greg Rizio, president-elect of the organization.
“Such efforts create a dangerous precedent in creating unnecessary fear and intimidation for Judges in reaching decisions based on the good faith application of law to the facts. Rather, such efforts encourage decisions that ignore the law in order to avoid the threat of being recalled by a vocal minority who seek to promote their own selfish agenda,” the ad says.
Riverside Sheriff Chad Bianco has publicly called for Hutson’s resignation multiple times. The sheriff’s office
The Chino City Council sent a letter to the Superior Court and elected officials asking for her resignation or removal from criminal cases. The National Police Association is circulating a petition asking for Hutson’s resignation, which when last checked had 11,658 supporters.
“Riverside County California Sheriff’s Deputy Isaiah Cordero, 32, was killed in traffic stop by William Shae McKay, a violent criminal who was freed on bail pending sentencing by Judge Cara D. Hutson after being convicted of kidnapping and assault (his third strike) and again after not showing up for his original sentencing date,” the NPA says in its campaign.
Bail is determined by each county’s bail schedule. San Bernardino’s bail schedule for 2022 said bail for a third strike should be set at $500,000. McKay’s bail was originally set higher, at $1 million, because he was on trial for kidnapping, as well as robbery and false imprisonment. Hutson convicted McKay of false imprisonment and robbery, but found him not guilty of kidnapping, causing him to receive a lower bail under San Bernardino’s bail schedule.
The ABOTA advertisement said that critics of Hutson are jeopardizing public confidence in the independence of the judiciary and are threatening to destroy the Constitutional basis of American democracy.
The organization has a history of advocating for judges, who are barred from directly responding to criticism due to law. They defended former Santa Clara Superior Judge Aaron Persky in 2017, when he was recalled due to his sentence against the Stanford swimmer and sexual assailant Brock Turner. They created a protocol to respond to unfair criticism of judges which says that “the reporting of inaccurate or unjust criticism of judges, courts, or our system of justice by the news media erodes public confidence and weakens the administration of justice.”
Letter to the editor: Correcting misinformation spread by those wanting to recall local judge
History of McKay’s case: Chino City Council calls for judge’s resignation
Court transcript and summary: Judge under fire: What really happened in that bail reduction hearing