A group demanding that local elected and appointed officials undergo random drug testing will hold a rally in front of the St. Clair County Courthouse at 10 a.m. today.
Citizens for Social and Economic Progress leader Lee Griffin said the rally was organized in response to a recent drug scandal that has rocked the courthouse.
In May, Circuit Judge Michael Cook was arrested on heroin possession and weapon charges. His arrest by federal authorities came two months after his colleague and friend Judge Joseph Christ was found dead of cocaine toxicity at a Cook family owned hunting lodge in Pike County. So far, two others have been charged in connection with what appears to be a widening investigation, including former St. Clair County probation officer James Fogarty.
Griffin stated in a press release, “Justice should be blind. Not high or drunk.”
“This is an opportunity to make your voices heard,” Griffin said. “To tell the politically elite that we’re tired of their games and we’re tired of them thinking they are above the law. People have had their lives or their loved ones’ lives ruined by judges that may have not been in their right minds when they made their legal decisions. It’s not right and it needs to stop.”
Soon after his arrest, Cook stepped down from the bench and sought drug treatment. He also entered a not guilty plea on charges of heroin possession and being an unlawful user of a controlled substance in possession of firearms. He is set to go to trial Oct. 1.
Fogarty, who is charged with possession of cocaine with the intent to deliver and being an unlawful user of a controlled substance in possession of a firearm, also pleaded not guilty. He is accused of providing cocaine to Cook and Christ before the two judges went to the Pike County lodge. His trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 26.
In connection, Sean McGilvery of Belleville has been charged with conspiring to distribute and possess more than 1 kilogram of heroin with the intent to deliver. Cook was arrested at McGilvery’s home. McGilvery, who has pleaded not guilty, is set to go to trial Sept. 16.