|Michael Owens Craig|
Division A Judge of the Louisiana 26th Judicial District Court for
Bossier and Webster parishes
January 1, 2009 – Current term expires December 31, 2020
|Preceded by||Dewey Burchett|
|Born|| November 5, 1968|
Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
|Spouse(s)|| Name of spouse missing|
|Children|| Hannah Craig
|Residence||Benton, Bossier Parish|
|Alma mater|| Airline High School|
|Occupation|| Attorney and Judge|
Michael Owens Craig, known as Mike Craig (born November 5, 1968), is the Division A judge of the 26th Judicial District Court of Bossier and Webster parishes in northwestern Louisiana. Craig is nearing the end of his third term in the judgeship. He resides in Benton; the district also encompasses Minden in Webster Parish. All six of the 26th Judicial Court judges are registered Republicans
Craig graduated from the public Airline High School in Bossier City and received his undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University, a since four-year institution in Shreveport, which was established the year before Craig was born. His law degree is from the historically black Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge. In 2003, he was the executive director of the National Little Britches Rodeo Association, heaquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Prior to his judicial service, Craig operated a private legal practice and for three years served with the indigent defenders' board and as an assistant district attorney under DA Schuyler Marvin. He is a former president of the Bossier Parish Bar Association.
In the 2008 election, Craig waged an unexpected challenge to the twenty-year incumbent Democratic judge, Dewey E. Burchett, Jr., of Benton and narrowly defeated him, 12,182 votes (51 percent) to 11,683 (49 percent). Craig hence prevailed by fewer than four hundred votes. Incumbent judges are rarely challenged in northwestern Louisiana, particularly in a controversial campaign like this one. 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. He was sworn into office by then Minden City Judge Cecil Campbell, II, with ceremonies in the Bossier Parish Courthouse.
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 primary for judge held on November 4, 2014, in conjunction with the mid-term 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.
Craig was the judge of the Bossier Parish Drug Court until 2015, when he was replaced by colleague Mike Nerren. Sixteen clients graduated from the anti-addiction program in November 2014.
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 sentence 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 public liability on the part of 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 of Morris in 2013 was too stiff of a punishment for the charge leveled against him: 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 heard a longstanding case stemming from the M6 artillery propellant explosion that occurred in 2012 at Camp Minden near the Bossier/Webster parish line. David Alan Smith of Winchester, Kentucky, and David Fincher of Burns, Tennessee, the owners of Explo Systems, Inc., faced ten charges, including reckless use of explosives stemming from their having left behind seven thousand tons of propellant at Camp Minden. Through their attorney, Smith and Fincher petitioned Judge Craig to throw out the charges on the premise that state law does not classify the propellant as an explosive. As the case developed, however, Judge Craig accepted a guilty plea from two Explo officers, who admitted to failure to mark explosive material in a proper fashion. Craig gave David Smith to fifty-five months imprisonment at hard labor and a $1,500 fine plus court costs. The company vice president of operations, William Terry Wright of Bossier City, was sentenced to sixty months at hard labor and the same fine and court costs that Smith received. Smith and Wright also faced similar sentencing in federal court for participating in a criminal conspiracy regarding to circumstances leading to the explosion. The federal case held that the defendants conspired from January 2010 to November 2012 to defraud the United States by submitting false certificates to the United States Army, transporting hazardous wastes to unauthorized facilities, and improperly storage of the explosives. The 2018 court ruling did not mention the other owner of Explo Systems, David Fincher, who had also faced charges.
- Michael Craig (Owens). Mylife.com. Retrieved on May 29, 2020.
- Judge Mike Craig. 26th Judicial District Court (April 25, 2020). Retrieved on May 29, 2020.
- Michael O. Craig Business Profile. Zoominfo.com. Retrieved on May 29, 2020.
- Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 4, 2008.
- Craig defeats incumbent Bossier-Webster judge. KTBS-TV (ABC in Shreveport) (October 5, 2008). Retrieved on May 29, 2020.
- State Ethics Board Censures Bossier Judge. KTBS-TV. Retrieved on May 29, 2020.
- Vickie Welborn (August 20, 2014). Final day of qualifying in DeSoto, Webster. The Shreveport Times. Retrieved on May 29, 2020.
- Sean Green (August 26, 2014). Candidates for November election in Bossier Parish. The Bossier Press-Tribune. Retrieved on May 29, 2020.
- "Bossier City Court," Louisiana Association of Drug Court Professionals, February 2015.
- Appeal of State of Louisiana v. Randall Wayne Rockett. law.justia.com (2011). Retrieved on May 29, 2020.
- Appeal of State of Louisiana v. James Everett Watson. law.justia.com (2011). Retrieved on May 29, 2020.
- Bailev v. Johnston et al. leagle.com. Retrieved on May 29, 2020.
- Petchak v. Bossier Parish Police Jury. casetext.com (November 24, 2010). Retrieved on May 29, 2020.
- Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns (Bossier Parish), November 4, 2014.
- Bonnie Culverhouse (March 26, 2015). Judge reverses officer's firing 1, 3. Minden Press-Herald. Retrieved on May 29, 2020.
- Explo Systems Inc. owners ask state judge to toss charges. Minden Press-Herald (June 2, 2015). Retrieved on May 29, 2020.
- Sean Green (December 18, 2018). Explo officials plead guilty to improperly storing explosive materials at Camp Minden. The Bossier Press-Tribune. Retrieved on May 29, 2020.