Making the case for judicial drug testing

October 19, 2013 

The public now has a more detailed picture of former St. Clair County Judge Michael Cook's drug habit, and it's pretty startling.

According to Cook's friend Sean McGilvery, who just pleaded guilty to heroin trafficking, Cook was buying heroin from him nearly every day. The statement of fact entered in the case unfortunately doesn't say how long this went on: A month? A year? Before Cook joined the bench?

Even if it was for a short period, it's eye- opening that a judge could use heroin daily and still function so well that no one saw it -- not other judges, not the lawyers, not people trained in treating drug addictions.

This strengthens the case that judges should be routinely tested for drug use. It's a huge problem to find out that a judge was the subject of a criminal investigation for using illegal drugs. Some of the guilty verdicts in the cases Cook handled have already been thrown out and new trials ordered, and there will be more. Routine drug testing might prevent a repeat of this situation, or at least minimize the impact.

Enough with the excuse that judges can't be required to take a drug test. They should want to do it voluntarily for the taxpayers who pay their salaries and for the sake of justice.

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