Cook agrees to be disbarred

News-DemocratApril 10, 2014 

Former St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook has agreed to be disbarred after his conviction and sentencing on federal heroin and weapons charges.

The agreement was filed on Thursday with the Illinois Supreme Court justices, who are expected to rule on the disbarment during their May term.

If Cook would have challenged his disbarment and lost, he would have had to wait five years before he reapplied. By agreeing to be disbarred, Cook can apply to have his law license reinstated in three years, but Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission attorney and spokesman Peter Roskoff said that is not automatic.

"He would have to file a petition that would be heard by a hearing board who will make a recommendation to the Illinois Supreme Court," Roskoff said. "Ultimately, the Illinois Supreme Court makes that determination."

Thomas Q. Keefe III, Cook's attorney, declined to comment.

Cook was arrested by drug agents outside his drug supplier's Belleville home on May 22. He pleaded guilty in November to heroin possession and weapons charges. Last month, Cook was sentenced to two years in federal prison. He will begin his sentence on May 28.

Cook, who presided over the felony and drug docket, resigned from the bench after his arrest. He then voluntarily surrendered his law license.

In the document filed before the Illinois Supreme Court, the ARDC and Cook agree that while Cook was an associate court judge and a circuit judge, he abused illegal drugs.

The statement of charges then stated that Cook engaged in the following acts of misconduct:

* Committed criminal acts that reflect adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer.

* Conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation by committing criminal acts while serving as a judicial officer.

* Conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice by committing criminal acts while serving as a judicial officer.

Contact reporter Beth Hundsdorfer at bhundsdorfer@bnd.com or 618-239-2570.

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