Saturday, June 8, 2013

St. Clair County Judicial Crisis

Judge Michael "Bad" Cook
This week we take a trip across the Mississippi to St. Clair County, Illinois to see how the judiciary is handling their drug crisis.  As you know, one St. Clair County Judge, Joseph Christ has died from a cocaine overdose.  Another one, Michael “Bad is my middle name” Cook has been arrested and stepped down from the bench.  St. Clair County Probation Officer James Fogarty is also in a jam for providing the cocaine.  All of this is because of illegal drug use.  Well, it’s not just about the drugs – it’s about addiction and power.

In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that I grew up in St. Clair County and worked for a county municipality prior to moving to St. Louis County in 1983.  Everybody on the East Side knows the "Cook" name.  Lawyer Bruce Cook (Judge Michael’s father), was always the “go to” guy for anyone wanting to be involved in county politics.  It should be no surprise that Bruce’s son went to law school, and before long, was named to the bench in St. Clair County.  It was a sure bet.    

As a young police officer, I was scared to death of judges.  No disrespect to the Court, but later in life I learned that a judge was really just a lawyer with political connections (insert Michael Cook’s name here).  That, in and of itself, is not a bad thing.  Many lawyers, who happen to have political connections, earn the title, “Your Honor.”  Others get the title, but they don’t earn it.  Those are the ones that can’t properly handle the power that comes with the position.  They start taking risks and believe they're really special or above the law.

With that said, this goes for anyone in a high profile position.  Just look at the number of actors, politicians, clergy, judges and yes, police officers that turn to addictive alcohol and drugs.  If a person has addictive tendencies - power, recognition or authority can push them over the edge.  Experience tells me this is the situation in St. Clair County. 
At least Bruce Cook has a chance to live his life with his son being part of it.  Too bad the family of Judge Joe Christ won’t have the same opportunity. 

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