Odd measure of justice

October 3, 2013 

The fallout from former Circuit Judge Mike Cook's drug arrest continues to pelt the people of St. Clair County. Now convicted murderer William Cosby is getting a new trial "in the interest of justice," Circuit Judge Bob Haida has ruled.

But what exactly was the injustice to Cosby? Yes, it's terrible that a sitting judge was using drugs. But Cosby was found guilty not by Cook but by a jury of 12 people. They concluded from the evidence at trial that Cosby shot Antwan "Twix" Thomas outside an East St. Louis nightclub.

Chief Judge John Baricevic reviewed all of Cook's cases after Cook's arrest and concluded there was no wrongdoing. Indeed, Cosby's defense attorney Charles "C.J." Baricevic, the chief's judge's son, didn't contend that Cook had made any legal errors. Instead he argued that Cosby deserved a new trial because State's Attorney Brendan Kelly should have disclosed that federal authorities were investigating Cook.

But in the interest of justice, Kelly obviously couldn't do that. If he had disclosed it to C.J. Baricevic -- who, by the way, also represents the man who allegedly sold heroin to Cook -- he would have had to disclose it to every other attorney whose client had a case before Cook. That potentially could have blown the undercover drug investigation. And what of Cook's reputation? What if the investigation had gone nowhere?

Haida said he didn't make his ruling lightly; we hope not, because it has opened another can of worms. Probably every defense attorney who had a case before Cook in the months leading up to his arrest will be rushing to ask for a new trial now. In light of this ruling, they no doubt would get it.

The taxpayers would get to pay for all the redos, even if there's no indication that anything was done wrong the first time around. Victims and their families would suffer the agony and uncertainty of another trial.

Maybe this is justice, but it sure doesn't feel like it.

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