November 8, 2013

Baricevic: Cook charges have not affected performance of current judges

St. Clair County Chief Judge John Baricevic said the charges against former Judge Michael Cook have had "no effect on the judicial performance" of current judges.

Cook pleaded guilty Friday in federal court to possessing heroin and a gun while on drugs. Former county probation officer James Fogarty pleaded guilty to cocaine distribution charges on Wednesday.

"Upon Judge Cook's arrest we removed all cases from his control and reassigned the cases to other judges," Baricevic said. "We reviewed his cases to determine if any impropriety occurred in how he handled the cases. We have not found anything but continue to be diligent and observant at this point.

"The criminal offenses Judge Cook is charged with has not affected the dispensation of justice in St. Clair County, and with the completion of those efforts we have moved on to do our jobs."

St. Clair County Associate Circuit Judge Joe Christ died of a cocaine overdose while with Cook in March.

New trials have been granted in two murder cases in which Cook presided as judge.

Gregory Muse, 56, was granted a new trial Oct. 30 after being convicted in March of first-degree murder related to a robbery of a pawn store in East St. Louis.

William Cosby, 29, of East St. Louis, was granted a new trial in October, after Cook presided over a trial in which Cosby was convicted of first-degree murder.

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