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Constitutional Law

2nd convicted murderer wins retrial due to drug case now faced by presiding judge

Posted Oct 31, 2013 1:50 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A second convicted murderer has won a retrial because the Illinois judge who presided over his trial is now facing a criminal drug case in federal court.

A public defender for Gregory Muse suggested that St. Clair County Circuit Judge Mike Cook might have been impaired at her client's March trial in Belleville and said the fact that Cook was then under investigation should have been disclosed by the government, Associated Press reports. Cook resigned from the bench after being charged, and his law license has been suspended.

A prosecutor argued that the evidence against Muse was "overwhelming" in the pawnshop slaying and said there was no evidence of any error or bias on Cook's part. Nonetheless, Circuit Judge Robert Haida, a former longtime top prosecutor for the county, indicated he had little choice but to overturn the verdict.

"I can't speculate on what Judge Cook did or why he did it," said Haida. But "as I sit now reviewing this matter, I can't say with the certainty that I need to say that Gregory Muse received a fair trial."

A lawyer for Cook attended the hearing but declined to comment, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

The former judge awaits trial on a misdemeanor heroin possession charge and a felony charge that a drug user was in possession of a firearm. The gun, his lawyers have said, was inside the judge's home, the newspaper reports.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: "New trial granted in murder case because drug probe of judge and investigator weren’t disclosed"

ABAJournal.com: "Anguish of judge in 911 tape who can’t revive unconscious colleague echos emotion of court onlookers"

News-Democrat: "Prosecutors: Cook bought heroin nearly every day from McGilvery"

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