A recent criminal court case in East St. Louis, Illinois, proved that even judges can make serious mistakes.
Michael Cook, a former St. Clair County judge, was sentenced to two years in prison after admitting to using and possessing heroin while owning firearms. In addition to the prison time, Cook will have three years of supervised release time, and have to pay a ten thousand dollar fine. He will also have to pay for his incarceration and supervision costs, to the tune of $65,583. The Southern Illinois legal system did not want taxpayers to have to foot the bill for Cook's imprisonment, and Judge Joe Billy McDade agreed.
Cook had been part of the Belleville circuit court drug scandal last spring. He was arrested outside a drug dealer's home. The drug dealers who sold illegal narcotics to Cook ended up with longer prison sentences because of the quantities of drugs they sold and how the law views that type of crime. They noted that Cook was a drug user, not a drug dealer.
His attorney asked the judge for only six months in prison due to the fact that Cook had been successful in a drug treatment program and he was continuing to try his best to remain drug-free. Federal prosecutors were pushing for an 18-month sentence, but the federal judge insisted that an 18-month sentence was not enough for someone in Cook's position. Judge McDade wanted people to know that although Cook comes from a prominent Metro East family of attorneys, there were no "shenanigans" and that the laws "have been applied equally."