Archive for Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Baldwin judge suspended

February 19, 2003

The Baldwin City Council agreed Monday night to suspend Baldwin's municipal judge without pay.

Judge John Cochran, who is under investigation by the Kansas Supreme Court, has been suspended until the conclusion of the investigation.

City attorney Bob Bezek said he thought the suspension was appropriate even though the city has not received official notification regarding the investigation.

"I think he should be suspended," Bezek said. "You certainly have enough to warrant a cause to suspend."

Cochran, who has been Baldwin's municipal judge for about five years, is under investigation for his involvement in helping his son, Matthew Cochran, obtain a Kansas law license. Matthew Cochran was arrested earlier this year on two counts of dealing methamphetamine.

Last week when a KCTV5 reporter tried to interview Cochran on camera about his son, the judge grabbed and swatted at the microphone and told the cameraman to "get that out of my face, or I'll stick it where the sun don't shine."

The council agreed Cochran acted unprofessionally and Council Member Todd Cohen wanted to know if the city could suspend him based on what was seen on TV.

"Yeah, basically," Bezek said. "You're not taking a final action. You're suspending him pending an outcome."

Cochran had also been Gardner's municipal judge, but resigned from the position Friday. He has not resigned as Baldwin's judge.

The city will look for a temporary judge to fill Cochran's position.

In other business, the council:

  • Heard a request from Zach Baumann, a Baker University student, to place three street lights at the alleys along Eighth Street between High and Lincoln streets. He also requested the trees in the area be trimmed.

Baumann told the council that section of Eighth Street is not well lit and Baker is concerned for student, as well as public, safety. He said there have been past incidents of female students being attacked in that area.

Utility Director Terry McKinney said two of the lights would cost about $300 each because there are already poles in place. The third light would be around $600. Baker has said it would help cover the cost of the lights.

The issue will be reviewed by the public safety committee and discussed again at a future council meeting.

  • Discussed a clean-up plan for Baldwin City Lake. McKinney said Friends of the Baldwin City Recreation Commission approached the city about cleaning up the lake.

Areas that Friends of the BCRC would like to focus on include picking up trash around the lake, secure the abandoned dock, cut down trees causing dam erosion, clean up brush and weeds to the water's edge and mark areas to be cleared by the city to allow better access to the lake.

Friends of BCRC is applying for grants to help with the project.

The council agreed the organization could pursue the grant process and will decide on city participation at a future meeting after hearing from a Friends of the BCRC representative.

  • Met in executive session for 30 minutes for attorney/client privilege. No action was taken following the closed-door session.

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