Monday, October 20, 2008

Mike Craig, Judge Bolin speak out

The Times published an article this morning regarding the recent judge’s election and quoted Mike Craig as saying that he is not the DA’s man.
“It was a general perception that was fed on by my opponent ... It was meant to be portrayed as negative but there’s no truth to it,” Craig said. “I’ve only been employed by Mr. Marvin (District Attorney J. Schuyler Marvin) since 2005, so it certainly got blown out of proportion by the media ... Everyone in the legal community knew it was bunk.
The issue that keeps popping up is whether or not Schuyler Marvin used this race, with or without Craig’s complicity, to increase his own power base.
I do know some issues have arisen between the incumbent (Burchett) and myself regarding sentences handed down that I was more than displeased with,” Marvin told The Times in September. “I was even quoted by the media as being publicly disappointed in some of his sentences and, for that reason, my name keeps coming up.”
Well, that and the fact that Marvin donated $1,000 to Craig’s campaign and attended a campaign fundraising event, plus general knowledge that his employees were very actively campaigning for Craig.
I recently posted an article entitled Term Limits for District Judges? in which I noted that
“Recent events have created a lot of uneasiness among members of the legal profession in Bossier and Webster Parishes. Talk to some of them and you can sense the feeling of discontent and apprehension.I’m referring, of course, to the race for District Judge in which Mike Craig defeated 20 year veteran Dewey Burchett. It was more than a hard-fought race; it was a bitter race to the end. The DA’s influence definitely came into play. I’m not saying that he ‘ran’ Mike Craig in a move to increase his own power base, but it cannot be denied that Schuyler Marvin has some stroke with the voters. Burchett supporters are wondering what treatment they will receive in the courtroom. The other judges realize that they could be next. Other parish officials are sitting on the sidelines taking notes.”
I was accused by a commenter of ‘fearmongering’, but that was not the case. I was just writing what I have seen and heard daily. Apparently my observations are not imaginary.
Judge Bruce Bolin was the only judge to respond to The Times requests for comments. He said “It’s not fair, whereas I felt the district attorney was allowed to be wide open and support people, spend money, influence, we can do nothing. I really am kind of afraid to say anything to you — it’s that bad — other than say we’re very disappointed (on the way Marvin’s office contributed to the race).”
Bolin later submitted an e-mail reply for clarification, which read in part: “The system will not work if judges allow any particular group, whether it’s the plaintiff lawyers, defense lawyers, or the district attorney, to pressure judges into deciding cases for immediate political gain.”
I also wrote "I believe that when Mike Craig becomes Judge Craig, he can do a lot to allay the fears and to restore equilibrium to the process, and I am confident that he will."
I think that he is attempting to do this, but he should drop the line that "it certainly got blown out of proportion by the media ... Everyone in the legal community knew it was bunk." Everyone in the legal community, and more importantly, in the general public, does not know this. He needs to be content with saying "there’s no truth to it".
Mike Craig needs to realize that a lot of people are troubled, that these anxieties are real, and whether fair or unfair, only he can put a stop to it.
Again, we have confidence that he will.

9 comments:

  1. A lot of people are paranoid.

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  2. I was the commentator you referenced in your article. My point was that I have had the opportunity to see how the sitting DA has treated those (lawyers) who either did not support him and those that openly opposed him in his own election (general race and a runoff). From my observations, those lawyers do not get treated any differently in the courtroom (by the DA's office) than the ones who supported the DA. Based on that, I assume that the legal community will suffer no fallout from the DA due to this election. The Times article and your follow-up keep raising a fear that (shouldn't and ) hasn't happened yet; and, based on past observations will not happen. We've had an opportunity to see how the DA treats political opponents in the courtroom- and he seems to be fair. The only unknown is how the other side will treat the backers of Judge Craig--- and any comments on that (before any actual happenings) are unfair as well- We are blessed with good judges in Bossier/Webster parish also; many of these Judges ran hard races where silly rumors arose whether started by thier opponet or not. I also think you would be hard pressed to find an instance where any of these judges can be said to have taken anything out on thier defeated opponets. All this brought about my "fearmongering" comment. You are stirring something up that has not, and based on past events, is very unlikely to occur. Maybe I am wrong - but the 26th Da and judges have not behaved this way to present. No offense meant to the authors of the articles I comment on, but it strikes a chord with me when the articles (Times and otherwise) seem to imply that those with ethical and professional obligations to follow the law will not do so- before any time has passed to make that claim.

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  3. i agree a lot is left to be seen, and no use projecting what may or may not happen, but at least everyone is on notice that folks are paying attention. it is scary however having a new judge that has neglected to pay his taxes for 6 + years, and ran a dirty campaign. If you don't believe he did, ask around. but we are in a world where folks are likely going to elect Obama, so I think it's fair to say anything can happen. Political appointments have never been about performance, they are about "politics".

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  4. You should really stop dragging this out. This was a tough and close race and the voters were divided evenly. It would be best to put this behind all of us and just move on. Don't make a bigger deal out of it than it was.

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  5. anon at 8:49 AM:
    I really am not trying to stir it up, just blogging on what I read and hear - but you're right, Mike Craig won the election and it is time to move on.
    I was encouraged when Mr. Craig spoke out that he is not the DA's man, but saying 'everyone in the legal profession know that's bunk' isn't quite true.
    It would be good if Mr. Craig would acknowledge that some people, within and without the legal profession, have some concerns and would offer an olive branch.
    Perhaps he will write a guest blog for My Bossier doing just that.

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  6. Wow, that would be amazing if he would! There are many concerns in the legal community. I hope they will soon be quelched because I for one think Bossier has one of the best courthouses and I feel so blessed to be living and working in my hometown.

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  7. With regard to the judge's race. The most fearful thing about the race to me was hearing about how there was some "unspoken rule" against running for judge against an incumbent. I doubt any of us regular voters knew that was what we were doing when we voted for judge. I applaud Mike Craig for unveiling that little "good ole boy secret". It was time for Dewey Burchett to find something else to do. His family court rulings created nightmares not only for loving family members who took in children of women who were on drugs or had other lives to live and chose to leave those children behind, but for those children as well. Judge Burchett, on many more than one occassion made the decision to take these children out of stable and loving homes and give them back to parents who abandoned completely or neglected them. He made the children suffer upheavals in order to give second chances to worthless women who wouldn't take care of them to begin with. In one such case, I sat in the courtroom and observed Judge Burchett napping away the afternoon and then ruling to take a child away from his father and aunt who had raised him for 51/2 years to give him to a mother who left him at four months of age and had had no contact with him for that time period. I'm told he was seen napping during criminal trials as well. It was time for him to retire or do something else. Curiosity makes me wonder what Jimmy Johnson's win ratio in Judge Burchett's court was. It has been allegedged that the two of them had their own "good ole boys" thing going on. Instead of congratulating his opponent for his win, Burchett pulled his cap down over his face and ran away like many of the criminals he made rulings on. I say good riddance to a bad judge and good luck to the new one. I sincerely hope that now that the "unspoken rule" secret is out it is a thing of the past. If we wanted lifetime judges...they'd be appointed. Not elected.

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  8. sounds like mike craig gave his article above on the topic...him or perhaps piddard who is a another one of the many jokes to the da's office. all it takes now is for a republican da hopeful and judge hopeful to approach several key money players to get marvin and craig out of there in six. craig said he wasnt going to run another race...well, i care to differ, both of these gentelemen better get the shoe leather ready :) i think mc alister would be a good judge---guess that would definitely get the old boy network outa there lol

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  9. Well, in 6 years there will be 6 sitting ducks, er, judges. . .
    I'll be very suprised if we don't see one or two of them challenged, or possbibly a couple of them stepping down.

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