Loss of trust in St. Clair County courts

June 6, 2013 

When Joe Christ was named a St. Clair County associate judge in February, he said it was "the icing on the public service career I have had serving as a prosecutor for almost 18 years."

But the day before he was sworn in as a judge, Christ wasn't focused on public service but rather serving his drug buddies. Court records show that Christ -- who died of cocaine intoxication at the hunting lodge of Circuit Judge Michael Cook's family -- recommended having tickets thrown out for the probation officer and another man accused of supplying drugs to Christ and Cook. The judge who signed off on the dismissals? Cook, of course.

State's Attorney Brendan Kelly said this is just one part of the information sent to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. Can't wait to hear the rest of it and who else at the courthouse might have been involved.

The website transparency.org defines corruption as "the abuse of entrusted power for private gain," and that fits this situation to a T.

Cook resigned after his arrest for buying heroin and is now in drug treatment. Everyone at the courthouse is scrambling to reassure the public of the judicial system's integrity. But if Christ hadn't died and Cook hadn't been arrested, nothing would have changed.

Did other judges and prosecutors really not see what was going on, or is bad behavior and fixing tickets commonplace in St. Clair County? How can the public know that other abuses of entrusted power aren't happening?

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