Former St. Clair County judge Michael Cook, whose colleague died of a cocaine overdose in March, pleaded guilty today in court. The Post-Dispatch reports that Cook was sentenced to 18 months in prison for misdemeanor heroin possession and a felony charge of being a drug user in possession of a firearm. On Wednesday, 46-year-old James Fogarty, a former county probation officer, admitted selling drugs to Cook and Judge Joseph Christ and using drugs with both men. Two men convicted separately of murder in Cook's court have won retrials after raising concerns about the judge's drug connections, and some other criminal defendants have been allowed to withdraw guilty pleas.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri judge has struck down a pair of new laws that had limited the ability of cities and counties to regulate cellphone towers.
Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce ruled that lawmakers violated procedural requirements of the state constitution when passing the bills earlier this year.
She said the bills' title of "relating to telecommunications" did not encompass everything in the bills. She noted that one bill also contained provisions related to railroad crossings and utility rights-of-way. Another bill contained provisions related to cable TV services, which she said are not legally the same as telecommunications.
Joyce also said lawmakers had changed the bills' original purpose.
Gov. Jay Nixon and legislative leaders had touted the legislation as a way to encourage expansion of high-speed Internet and wireless phone service.
BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) - A southwestern Illinois judge who resigned after being accused of federal gun and drug charges has agreed to have his law license suspended.
The Belleville News-Democrat reports that the Illinois Supreme Court this month approved of the action against former St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook. He was involved in a scandal involving another judge's cocaine death.
The suspension order states Cook was charged with a crime involving moral turpitude. It says he signed an affidavit voluntarily giving up his law license on an interim basis.
Cook has pleaded not guilty to charges he possessed heroin and had a gun while illegally using controlled substances.
Investigators say Cook was at a western Illinois hunting lodge in March with prosecutor-turned-judge Joe Christ when Christ died from a cocaine overdose.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A judge has spared members of Gov. Jay Nixon's administration from testifying before a Missouri House panel investigating state driver's license procedures.
Cole County Circuit Judge Dan Green issued a preliminary order Thursday blocking the committee from proceeding with the subpoenas. The order did not elaborate on why.
An attorney representing the Nixon administration employees had argued the subpoenas imposed an unreasonable burden by providing too little notice and taking the employees away from important work. He also asserted there was no legal authority for the subpoenas.
The committee is looking into whether state officials tried to implement provisions of the Real ID Act, despite a state law forbidding compliance with the federal proof-of-identity law.
House Speaker Tim Jones issued the subpoenas. He suggested Nixon is trying to hide something.
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) - A one-time appellate court judge is being appointed to fill a vacant St. Clair County court position after the judge who once held the job resigned over drug charges.
The Belleville News-Democrat reports Republican Steven P. McGlynn was named to the post Wednesday, replacing Mike Cook.
Cook resigned in May after being charged with heroin and gun possession as part of a widening courthouse drug scandal.
He was charged in the case after the March death of colleague who died from a cocaine overdose at Cook's western Illinois hunting cabin.
McGlynn was appointed to the appellate court in 2005, but lost an election bid the next year. He was later appointed to the county circuit court following a retirement. He lost another judgeship election last year.
BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) - A southwestern Illinois judge whose colleague died of a cocaine overdose while the two were on a hunting trip is stepping down from the bench as he defends himself against federal heroin and gun charges.
St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook resigned Wednesday through his attorney by letter to the chief judge, John Baricevic. Baricevic says the letter is brief and doesn't offer a reason for Cook's departure.
Cook was charged last Friday with possessing heroin and having a gun while illegally using controlled substances. He's pleaded not guilty.
The Illinois Supreme Court now must pick Cook's replacement.
A fellow judge, Joe Christ, died of a cocaine overdose in March while with Cook at the Cook family's hunting cabin in western Illinois' Pike County. That probe continues.
An Illinois judge whose colleague died of a cocaine overdose while the two were on a hunting trip together has been charged with possession of heroin and guns.
St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook pleaded not guilty during a court appearance Friday in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis. KSDK reports he wore a t-shirt that read "Bad is my middle name" to today's hearing. Authorities say Cook and fellow judge Joe Christ were staying at the Cook family's hunting lodge in western Illinois' Pike County in March when Christ was found dead.
A coroner said Friday that Christ died of a cocaine overdose. Cook has not been charged in Christ's death.
DENVER (AP) - A federal judge in Denver is considering an injunction after ruling that nearly 250 Abercrombie & Fitch Co. and J.M. Hollister LLC clothing stores are unfriendly to the disabled.
The judge agreed in March with the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition that the retailers that cater to a hip, young clientele limited access for customers in wheelchairs.
He said the only remedy under the Americans With Disabilities Act is an order to fix the problems, and individuals can't be compensated.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of several Colorado customers who say they had trouble getting into stores and the sales countertops are too high.
The companies say they complied with all construction standards in effect at the time.
New Albany, Ohio-based Abercrombie & Fitch is the parent company of Hollister.
BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) - A judge in southwestern Illinois is considering an AIDS service organization's challenge of a city's decision to bar the group from running a needle-exchange program because of a zoning issue.
The Belleville News-Democrat reports that St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert Haida took the matter under advisement after a hearing Monday. The judge will issue a written ruling.
The city sued in February, believing Bethany Place's needle-exchange program violates the type of operations allowed for that site under the city's zoning codes.
Bethany Place responded last month, arguing the city waited too long to complain.
The organization calls the city's move unfair and prejudicial to clients served by the program.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Missouri Supreme Court has suspended a St. Louis judge who let a clerk handle hundreds of cases while she was on vacation.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the unpaid six-month suspension of Associate Circuit Judge Barbara Peebles was ordered Friday. A one-page order says the court found Peebles "engaged in misconduct" but doesn't go into specifics.
Peebles has been suspended with pay since August, when a judicial disciplinary commission voted to recommend her removal. A report by the Commission on Retirement, Removal and Discipline found Pebbles abdicated her duties to clerks, showed up late to work and tried to cover up the destruction or removal of a document.
Peebles had been fighting the dismissal recommendation. It's been 20 years since a Missouri judge was removed from office.