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BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) - A former St. Clair County circuit judge charged with heroin possession and a weapons violation presided over more than 1,700 felony cases.

The Belleville New-Democrat reports that Michael Cook's tenure included eight bench trials and 24 jury trials. Cook resigned after he was charged in May.

Officials are re-examining the cases Cook handled. A judge granted a new trial to one convicted murderer whose case he oversaw, and another has demanded a retrial. Hearings are scheduled for both next week.

Of the 1,705 felony cases Cook handled, 1,102 resulted in guilty pleas. Three of the bench trials ended in guilty verdicts. Twenty of the jury trials ended in guilty verdicts.

Cook has pleaded not guilty. He has agreed to have his law license suspended and sought drug treatment.

 

Monday, 21 October 2013 16:46
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MARYVILLE, Mo. (AP) - Officials in a northwest Missouri county whose prosecutor is under fire for his handling of a teen sexual assault case are planning to close county offices Tuesday because of a planned rally related to the case.

Nodaway County Clerk Beth Walker says the courthouse and county administrative building are being closed. Walker says law enforcement officers will maintain some kind of presence around the buildings during the rally.

At least two activist groups, including one called "Justice for Daisy," have called for the protest, which is to begin at 6 p.m.

Daisy Coleman says she was 14 in January 2012 when a 17-year-old Maryville boy gave her alcohol and had sex with her when she was incapacitated. Felony charges against the boy and a second 17-year-old were dropped months later.

 

Monday, 21 October 2013 15:05
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Clean up continues after a train derailed in Bond County Monday morning.

Just before 6 AM 18 cars jumped off the tracks near Main St. in the town of Smithboro. Investigators say the 59-car CSX train was going from East St. Louis to Avon, Indiana.

No injuries were reported and investigators continue work to determine the cause of the derailment. 

Monday, 21 October 2013 15:04
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CHICAGO (AP) - Opponents and supporters of same-sex marriage are gearing up for another push in the Illinois Legislature.

Supporters are planning a march and rally in Springfield on Tuesday, the first day of the Legislature's fall session. Gov. Pat Quinn and other lawmakers who support legislation legalizing same-sex marriage are expected to participate.

Opponents have scheduled a prayer rally at the Capitol on Wednesday. A group of African American clergy who oppose the measure also recorded radio ads in which they urge listeners to call lawmakers and tell them to vote no.

The Illinois Senate approved the legislation in February. The spring session ended without a House vote, after the bill's sponsor said he didn't have the support to pass it.

It's unclear if a vote will occur during the fall session.

 

Monday, 21 October 2013 14:33
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Drivers are encouraged to avoid a section of Mid Rivers Mall Drive starting tonight.

MoDOT is shutting down the Mid Rivers Mall Drive Bridge over Interstate 70. One lane in each direction on the bridge will close at 7 p.m.  Then at 11 p.m., crews will close the entire bridge for paving work.

The bridge should reopen Wednesday evening.

Monday, 21 October 2013 14:29
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A special prosecutor has been appointed to investigate allegations that a 14-year-old cheerleader was sexually assaulted by an older classmate who plied her with alcohol.

Daisy Coleman also alleges that a second 17-year-old boy recorded the January 2012 incident in Maryville using cellphone video.

Circuit court clerk Elaine Wilson says Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker has taken on the case.

Felony charges against both boys were dropped last year after Nodaway County prosecutor Robert Rice says Daisy and her family stopped cooperating with the investigation.

Melinda Coleman, Daisy's mother, says the family never stopped cooperating but looks forward to answering questions in a new review of the case.

 

Monday, 21 October 2013 12:42
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CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says the state's $97 billion pension shortfall isn't as dire as some people are describing.

The Chicago Democrat told WGN Radio that the pension shortfall is not an imminent crisis, but that finding a solution can help keep Illinois' income taxes down.

Cullerton made the remarks as lawmakers head back to Springfield to begin their fall veto session Tuesday. They face considerable pressure to deal with the pension problem, considered the nation's worst. But a bipartisan committee working on reform is split over a plan that saves $138 billion over 30 years.

Cullerton says the state has been putting more money into its pension systems in recent years under a 1996 law.  He says he wants to lower the annual amount the state pays in.

 

Monday, 21 October 2013 12:18
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FULTON, Mo. (AP) - Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle agree that Missouri's state hospital for the most severely ill and dangerous mental health patients is in dire need of repair, but it remains unclear just how to come up with the more than $200 million needed to replace the crumbling Fulton State Hospital.

The facility is Missouri's only maximum security psychiatric hospital. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that some of the buildings on the 95-acre site are completely abandoned. Others are in such bad shape they raise safety concerns for patients and staff.

Republican state Sen. David Pearce of Warrensburg heads an interim Senate committee reviewing state building repair needs. He says many of the state's more than 6,000 buildings need fixing, but dollars are scarce.

 

Monday, 21 October 2013 11:37
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New labors numbers for the St. Louis area show the City lags behind the rest of the county when it comes to employment, however jobs are on the rise. Data released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows an unemployment rate of 7.4 percent in August 2013, compared to the national unemployment rate of 7.3 percent over the same time period. The good news is that the St. Louis metropolitan area added 11,000 jobs, which is up 0.8 percent over the past year. But that's still behind the national pace, where employment rose 1.7 percent from a year ago. 

Monday, 21 October 2013 10:24
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The head of Missouri's public defender system says furloughs may be necessary if Gov. Jay Nixon does not release additional money for the system by January.

   The Jefferson City News Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/1h0dUe6 ) that state Public Defender Cat Kelly sent notices last week to judges warning them that the system could face staff shortages. She said a hiring freeze would start Nov. 1 and furloughs could kick in two months later.

   Nixon withheld $1.4 million from the public defender system when then budget year started July 1.

   A spokeswoman for Nixon's Office of Administration says the public defender system and many other agencies had 4 percent of their budgets restricted - slightly more than the standard 3 percent that's kept in reserve.

 
Monday, 21 October 2013 09:09
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