New trial granted in murder case because drug probe of judge and investigator weren't disclosed

In an unusual appeal that presumably could serve as a road map for other defendants, an Illinois judge has ruled that a convicted defendant should get a new trial in a first-degree murder case because his lawyers weren’t told the presiding judge and main investigator were the subjects of a then-ongoing federal drug probe.

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Mike Cook has since been criminally charged and resigned from the bench.

The government pointed out that disclosing the drug probe would have derailed it. But defense attorneys Charles “CJ” Baricevic and Cathy MacElroy argued that failing to disclose the federal investigation tainted the trial of their client, William Cosby, 29, with an appearance of unfairness, the News-Democrat reports. Other alternatives, they noted, included delaying the trial or substituting another judge.

“The court acknowledges that the state was in a difficult position as far as how to proceed at the time of this trial,” said St. Clair County Circuit Judge Bob Haida. But, he ruled Wednesday, “In the interest of justice, I must grant a new trial. I don’t do this lightly.”

See also:

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

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