Devil's again in the details

January 7, 2014 

Just when you thought the courthouse drug scandal couldn't get much worse, the details of the FBI's investigation come to light through the recently unsealed search warrants. Our reporters on Sunday detailed some newly disturbing stories, including:

* Former St. Clair County Circuit judge Mike Cook may have been trading courtroom favors for drugs. His associate believed in one case that oxycontin yielded a lighter sentence on felony DUI charges.

* We don't think we were alone in thinking longtime prosecutor Joe Christ's overdose death was a fluke, that he was an inexperienced user being initiated into the judicial fraternity by Cook at his hunting lodge just after becoming a judge. FBI records indicate he'd been a member of the courthouse bad boys club for a while.

* Cook's drug problem was ongoing for at least eight years, well before he became a judge if the FBI source is correct.

* Cook knew the feds were on to him. That didn't stop him from constant contact with his dealer, an average of more than five cell phone calls a day and trips to his dealer's and other druggies' homes.

Cook is to be sentenced Jan. 17. The federal judge is not bound to follow the sentence deal of 18 months for heroin and weapons charges. Especially considering the courtroom favors, we hope these details sway the judge to use 18 months as a minimum.

And we hope voters remember that even the guys you think are Boy Scouts should be drug tested before we elect or retain them as circuit judges. If they won't take the tests voluntarily, maybe there's a reason other than their civil libertarian leanings.

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