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Family wants new trial in case heard by former judge

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BELLEVILLE, IL (KTVI)-- A Missouri family is raising questions about the role former St. Clair County Judge Michael Cook played in a felony case involving their relative.

Cook has since admitted he's a heroin addict.

James Cherry, who once served as a military police officer with the Missouri Army National Guard, is now serving a 25 year sentence in an Illinois prison for shooting a man outside an East St. Louis night club.

Cherry says it was done in self defense.  A St. Clair County jury determined it was a crime.

Cherry was accused of shooting Larry Miller in the leg with his handgun in October of 2010 outside the Club Illusion in East St. Louis.

The case wound up in former St. Clair County Judge Michael Cook's court in Belleville.

Cook recently pleaded guilty to two federal drug charges admitting he was a heroin addict.

There is no evidence Cook was using drugs during Cherry's trial in March of 2011, but his sister thinks he deserves a new trial.

Cook's last action on Cherry's case was in January of 2013 when he denied a motion for a new trial.

The case is now on appeal but could take years to be heard.  Cherry Wyatt believes East St. Louis police failed to properly investigate the case because they knew the man who was shot and his associates.

Two independent prosecutors, along with the current St. Clair County chief judge and state's attorney, have reviewed the former judge's court cases back to January of 2012.

So far,  no additional ethical issues have been found.

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