Ex-judge Cook wants his drug trial delayed

News-DemocratJune 17, 2013 

Booking photo of former St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook of Belleville.

WASHINGTON CO. SHERIFF'S DEPT. — Washington Co. Sheriff's Dept.

— Attorneys for Mike Cook have asked a federal judge to delay the July 15 proposed start of his trial on misdemeanor and felony charges to allow the former judge to continue his drug rehabilitation treatment.

Cook, 43, waived his right to a speedy trial and his attorneys, Thomas Q. Keefe III, and J. William Lucco, filed a motion Monday in federal court asking that the trial date be extended. It is common for an initial trial date to be set and changed.

Cook resigned as a circuit judge in St. Clair County Court following his May 22 arrest for misdemeanor possession of heroin and felony possession of a firearm while being a user of heroin. He pleaded not guilty and was released on a recognizance bond that did not require putting up any money. According to a court document, he is in an out-of-state treatment center previously reported to be in Minnesota.

"The defendant is currently in a drug treatment facility out-of-state, where he is expected to remain for at least several more weeks," the motion presented to U.S. District Court Judge William Stiehl said. A ruling has not yet been made. It is not opposed by the prosecution.

"The ongoing medical treatment is at his own expense, and not at the expense of either the taxpayer or the U.S. attorney," the document noted.

"During this period, he is generally unreachable; additionally preparing for trial will detract him from his recovery."

On March 9, Cook and newly named associate judge Joe Christ attended a hunting banquet in Pittsfield, Pike County, and then returned to the Cook family's hunting cabin near Pleasant Hill. At 6:18 p.m. the next day, Cook made a 911 call to the Pike County Sheriff's dispatcher reporting that the 49-year-old Christ was unresponsive and lying on the floor of a bathroom. Christ was declared dead at 6:47 p.m. An autopsy the following day determine he had died of cocaine intoxication. Cook is not charged in connection with the death.

Contact reporter George Pawlaczyk at gpawlaczyk@bnd.com or 239-2625.

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