The Right Reverend Still Retires
Sometimes it is difficult to write a Prosecutorial "Obituary" for my friends and former co-workers as they leave the D.A.'s Office.
And sometimes, it is very easy.
Friday marks the last day at the Harris County District Attorney's Office for my best friend, the Reverend John Craig Still of the Universal Life Church of Modesto, California, who will be departing the Office after 9 years of service. So, without further ado, here's his obit:
John Craig Still aka Flip Johnson will be departing his life as a Harris County Prosecutor on Friday, September 10, 2010. He will be moving on to a new life as a Criminal Defense Attorney effective Monday, September 13th.
Craig first joined the Office as a full-fledged prosecutor in the Spring/Summer of 2001, and I first met him when all of the D.A.'s Office had been relocated to 1319 Texas Avenue because the CJC had been decimated by Tropical Storm Allison. When I first met Craig, he didn't have a lot to say. Come to think of it, he still isn't particularly chatty.
It seems just like yesterday that Craig was trying one of his first cases in front of Judge Sherman Ross. When asked if the State was ready, he looked his chief right in the eye and asked: "Do you happen to have any Imodium?" I tried to label him with the nickname of "Imodium" after that, but fortunately for Craig, the name never stuck.
Once he recovered from his stomach issues, Craig grew into an extremely talented trial attorney. During his felony stint, he was able to master the difference between a duvet and a bidet while on the fly in trial, just in time to secure a conviction from a very confused jury.
Also during his stint in felony, he would achieve celebrity status as the Quilting Avenger, after aggressively prosecuting a man who had decided to wreak havoc on the quilting community by destroying a highly valued quilt at the Quilt Show at the George R. Brown Convention Center.
Rumor has it, Craig can still get you a back stage pass to any quilting convention in the nation.
Craig sometimes angered the defendants he was prosecuting. In one particular case, he tried a defendant who practiced some sort of voodoo religion, and had to proceed with trial despite the fact that the defendant left a dead rooster's head in the courtroom.
He still has a picture of the rooster's head in his office.
But in all seriousness, as Craig's talent grew in the Office, he was called upon to handle more and more serious cases. He went to Child Abuse, and although the subject matter of the cases he handled bothered him tremendously, he excelled at the job and secured some excellent results against some people charged with doing very bad things.
His skills in trial also extended to other cases. I can recall being in court one day when a visibly rattled Vic Wisner came in. He was actually trying to keep from crying. When I asked him what was wrong with him (since I was unaware of the fact that Vic even had tears), he told me he had just seen Craig give one of the most amazing closing arguments on an Intoxication Manslaughter that he had ever seen.
Craig truly found his calling, however, when he was moved to the Special Crimes Division where he prosecuted white collar crime and major fraud cases. Although he didn't get to trial nearly as often, he found that working on complex "paper cases" were the exact thing he should be doing. He thoroughly enjoyed working under the leadership of John Brewer, and he would spend almost the next two years in the Division. Craig's methodical readings of bank records and mortgage papers coupled with his knowledge of the law meant that most cases he prepared were air-tight by trial time.
And that's why most defendants took a plea deal rather than face off against that kind of preparation.
Although he was excellent in the major fraud division, the Lykos Administration chose to move him to the 338th District Court as a Felony Chief when they took over, and he has served there for about a year or so now, I believe. As always, his reputation as a reasonable and well-prepared prosecutor has followed him.
So, on Monday, Craig will bring his considerable talents as a prosecutor to the Defense side. As I said about our friend Kristin Guiney, prosecutors are going to need to get themselves prepared if they see Craig Still sitting across counsel table from them. He's smart and he's good in trial.
Craig's, um, "wake" to celebrate his leaving from the Office will be held Friday, September 10th at the World-Famous Char Bar. We'll be starting up around 4:00 p.m. So come by to say "hello" and "goodbye" to Craig.
Craig leaves behind him at the Office his long-time companion, Ed McClees, and a son, Scott Pope.