A North Side business owner slapped a 79-year-old Cook County judge in the face, spit on her and called her “Rosa Parks” after becoming angry that she was smoking near him outside the Daley Center, authorities said.
Monday’s attack outside the courthouse came as a shock to friends of Judge Arnette Hubbard, a silver-haired African-American jurist who was the first female president of the National Bar Association and Cook County Bar Association, both black lawyers’ groups.
“She’s an icon in our community,” said Delores Robinson, past president of the Cook County Bar Association, who noted that Hubbard, a former commissioner on the Cook County Board of Elections, had been an international election observer in Haiti and South Africa and had long been a voice on civil rights and women’s issues.
Cook County prosecutors said Tuesday that Hubbard was outside the Daley Center smoking a cigarette when she walked past David C. Nicosia, 55, who became angry that she was smoking near him.
The two argued and Nicosia, who is white, stepped near her face and said, “Rosa Parks, move,” and spit in her face, prosecutors said. As he walked away, the Law Division judge followed him and called out for assistance.
Nicosia then turned and allegedly slapped the judge on the left side of her face with an open hand, prosecutors said. He was then arrested by sheriff’s deputies and charged with four counts of aggravated battery and a hate crime.
Chief Judge Timothy Evans, whose offices are also in the Daley Center, declined to comment. A representative said judicial rules of conduct barred Evans from speaking about a pending criminal case.
Born in Arkansas, Hubbard graduated from Southern Illinois University and John Marshall Law School and began her legal career in 1969 working on civil rights cases, according to online biographies. As part of the city’s African-American power structure, she spent several terms on the city’s election board as well as the cable commission.
Hubbard was appointed to the bench in 1997, re-elected to a six-year term the following year and retained since in two more elections, most recently in 2010.
Nicosia, who state records show is president of an IT consulting business, has no prior Cook County convictions. His attorney did not return a message seeking comment.
Friends of Hubbard were left shaking their heads Tuesday.
“People of good common sense and decency, people of good hearts should be outraged by this,” Robinson said. “Not just because of who she is but that this happened to anybody.”
“I’m still in shock,” said longtime friend Geraldine Simmons, 75, also a past president of the Cook County Bar Association, who questioned whether deputies acted quickly enough.