Michael Craig (Louisiana judge)
|Michael Owens "Mike" Craig|
|Division A Judge of the Louisiana 26th Judicial District Court for Bossier and Webster parishes|
Assumed office |
January 1, 2009
|Preceded by||Dewey E. Burchett, Jr.|
Place of birth missing
|Spouse(s)||Divorced (name of spouse missing)|
|Parents||Norman Dale and Suzanne Owens Craig|
|Alma mater||Southern University Law Center|
|Occupation||Attorney and Judge|
Michael Owens Craig known as Mike Craig (born November 1968), is the Division A judge of the 26th Judicial District Court of Bossier and Webster parishes in northwestern Louisiana. Craig resides in Bossier City, but the court is based in nearby Benton and Minden, the seats of government of Bossier and Webster parishes, respectively. All six of these district judges are Republicans.
Craig took his oath of office in January 2009 from then City Judge Cecil Campbell, II, of Minden, with ceremonies in the Bossier Parish Courthouse. Previously, Craig had been in private practice and served for three years with the indigent defenders program and later as assistant district attorney under current DA Schuyler Marvin of Minden in Webster Parish. Craig is a former president of the Bossier Parish Bar Association and current member of the Shreveport and Louisiana bar associations. He received his undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University in Shreveport and his law degree, though he is white, from the historically black Southern University Law Center in the capital city of Baton Rouge.
In the 2008 election, Craig waged an unexpected challenge to the twenty-year incumbent Democrat judge, Dewey E. Burchett, Jr., of Benton and narrowly defeated him, 12,182 (51 percent) to 11,683 (49 percent).Craig prevailed by fewer than four hundred votes. Incumbent judges are rarely challenged in northwestern Louisiana, particularly in a controversial campaign. Craig called Burchett a liberal and cited cases in which he claimed the judge had rendered too lenient sentences. Burchett questioned a tax lien filed against Craig by the Internal Revenue Service and issues relating to Craig's divorce.
After the campaign against Burchett, the Louisiana Board of Ethics censured Craig for violation of the campaign finance reporting law. The board found that Craig "unknowingly" reported a $34,000 loan far beyond the $2,500 limit from his father, Norman Dale Craig (born August 1939) of Bossier City. The board said that Craig admitted the violation and "acted immediately" to remedy the situation. He was not fined but reprimanded through publication of the board opinion.
Like his fellow Judges Mike Nerren, Parker Self, and Jeff Cox, all of Bossier Parish, Craig was unopposed for his second six-year term in the nonpartisan blanket primary for judge held on November 4, 2014, in conjunction with congressional elections nationwide. So were two other Republican judicial candidates, Charles Jacobs of Springhill in northern Webster Parish and former State Representative Jeff R. Thompson of Bossier City.
Elected on a pledge of stiffer sentences, Judge Craig in 2009 gave the defendant Randall Wayne Rockett twenty-five years at hard labor for causing an automobile accident while under the use of alcohol. It was Rockett's fourth such offense. The defendant pleaded guilty to avoid habitual offender status. Judge Craig found Rockett to be a danger to himself as well as the public. The appeals court upheld the sentence in 2011 as "neither disproportionate nor shocking to the sense of justice."
Judge Craig sentenced James Everett Watson to twenty years imprisonment for having in 2010 sold $50 worth of methamphetamines to an undercover police officer. Watson appealed to the Louisiana Court of Appeal for the Second Circuit in Shreveport on grounds that the setence was "excessive", that his age of sixty years at the time called for a lighter punishment, and that his most recent felony had been a decade earlier. The appeals court sided with Judge Craig on the premise that the sentence "does not shock the sense of justice. ... and is not excessive for a defendant with his horrendous track record."
In 2012, Judge Craig and his colleague Jeff Cox and several other court officials were defendants in an unusual suit for unspecified grievances brought by Gary Anthony Bailey, a prisoner in the Bossier Parish minimum security prison in Plain Dealing, before the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana in Shreveport. Bailey sought a change of venue on grounds that he was suing his captors and could not expect a fair trial at the district court level. The federal court, however, stood with Bossier Parish officials and the matter of original jurisdiction: "Contrary to petitioner's mistaken belief, this court holds no supervisory power over state judicial proceedings and may intervene only to correct errors of constitutional dimensions."
Judge Craig's decision for the defendant in Petchak v. The Bossier Parish Police Jury was overturned in 2010 by the state appeals court. Steve and Melanie Petchak sued the police jury, the parish governing board, regarding drainage, structural problems, and a sinkhole which developed on their residential property in Country Place subdivision. While Craig found no liability by the police jury in part because of a two-year statute of limitations in such matters, the appeals court sided with the plaintiffs and ordered the case remanded to Judge Craig, who was instructed to direct the police jury to make repairs to the couple's property and to pay undetermined damages. The appeals court said that the police jury had followed its statutory authority to maintain drainage on three previous occasions by filling the sinkholes reported by a previous owner and then the Petchaks. Because the police jury accepted the subdivision plat and then undertook to correct the drainage-related problems, the court held that the police jury assumed the responsibility for the defective drainage.
In 2015, Judge Craig ordered the reinstatement of a Minden municipal police officer, Timothy Martin "Tim" Morris (born June 1971), who had run against the chief, Steven Wayne Cropper (born December 1952), in the nonpartisan blanket primary held on November 4, 2014. Cropper polled more than 80 percent of the ballots cast; both candidates ran as Independents. Craig said that the termination in 2013 was too stiff of a punishment for the charge leveled against Morris: that he had violated policy regarding a case involving missing children. The Minden City Council had upheld the termination by a 4-1 vote. Morris claimed that he was terminated without a proper investigation and that the appeals process was biased against him.
Judge Craig is hearing a case in 2015 stemming from the longstanding M6 artillery propellant issue at Camp Minden near the Bossier/Webster parish line. David Smith of Winchester, Kentucky, and David Fincher of Burns, Tennessee, of Explo Systems, Inc., face ten charges, including reckless use of explosives, stemming from their having left behind 7,800 tons of propellant at Camp Minden. Through their attorney, Smith and Fincher have petitioned Judge Craig to throw out the charges on the premise that state law does not classify the propellant as an explosive.
- "Craig Sworn in as District Judge". KTBS-TV (ABC). January 1, 2009. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
- "Judge Michael O. Craig". zoominfo.com. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
- "Judge Mike Craig". Louisiana 26th Judicial District Court. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
- "Election Results". Louisiana Secretary of State. October 4, 2008. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
- "Craig defeats incumbent Bossier-Webster judge". KTBS-TV. October 5, 2008. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
- "State Ethics Board Censures Bossier Judge". KTBS-TV. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
- Vickie Welborn. "Final day of qualifying in DeSoto, Webster". The Shreveport Times. Retrieved August 22, 2014.
- "Candidates for November election in Bossier Parish". Bossier Press-Tribune. August 26, 2014. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
- "Bossier City Courts" (PDF). Louisiana Association of Drug Court Professionals. February 2015. p. 4. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
- "Appeal of State of Louisiana v. Randall Wayne Rockett". law.justia.com. 2011. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
- "Appeal of State of Louisiana v. James Everett Watson". law.justia.com. 2011. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
- "Bailev v. Johnston et al". leagle.com. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
- "Petchak v. Bossier Parish Police Jury". casetext.com. November 24, 2010. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
- "Timothy Morris, June 1971". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
- "Steven Cropper, December 1952". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
- "Election Results". Louisiana Secretary of State. November 4, 2014. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
- Bonnie Culverhouse (March 26, 2015). "Judge reverses officer's firing" (PDF). Minden Press-Herald. pp. 1, 3. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
- "Explo Systems Inc. owners ask state judge to toss charges". Minden Press-Herald. June 2, 2015. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
Dewey E. Burchett, Jr.
|Division A Judge of the Louisiana 26th Judicial District Court for Bossier and Webster parishes
Michael Owens "Mike" Craig.
| Succeeded by|