2008-01-23 / Front Page

District Attorney will be judge

By Elizabeth Billips Associate Editor

District Attorney Danny Craig has been selected to serve as a Superior Court judge for the Augusta Judicial Circuit. District Attorney Danny Craig has been selected to serve as a Superior Court judge for the Augusta Judicial Circuit. District Attorney Danny Craig will soon be hearing cases instead of arguing them.

Gov. Sonny Perdue handpicked him as the newest Superior Court judge for the Augusta Judicial Circuit, which presides over criminal, domestic and civil cases in Burke, Richmond and Columbia counties.

The announcement came Friday, more than two months after the state's nomination commission reduced the pool to three nominees: Craig, Columbia County Chief Magistrate Judge Wade Padgett and Augusta attorney Freddie Sanders Sr.

Craig, 52, will likely be sworn in by mid-February to early March, leaving his post to Chief Assistant DA Bill Bowcutt.

According to Craig, Bowcutt will serve as "acting DA" until Gov. Perdue appoints someone to finish out the tail-end of his term, which ends Dec. 31.

Whoever is appointed will have to run in a special election, probably on Nov. 4, to remain in office.

While the governor has not officially opened the application process, sources say two likely prospects are Craig's senior most assistant DA Ashley Wright and Augusta attorney Bobby Christine.

Craig expects the process to be much faster than that of the judgeship, pointing out that the appointment will come straight from Gov. Perdue without the lengthy review of a nomination commission.

In the meantime, Craig's transition from attorney to judge will come mostly in the form of civil cases while "the pipeline is purged" of criminal cases he's had his hands in.

While openly excited about that transition, Craig says there will be much to miss.

"I will really miss the finest lawyers and support staff I've ever had the opportunity to work with," he said, referring to his staff, which includes 19 attorneys. "They put their whole heart and soul into serving this community and making it a safer place … to be a part of that has been nothing less than a blessing."

However, as the newest judge on the circuit, Craig is already looking forward to "setting the tone for the quality of justice."

"I've spent my entire career in the courtroom, and it's obvious to me that this is the place people come to govern themselves," he said, noting that he plans to serve the Lord through serving other people

With Judge Dickert's unfinished term expiring at the end of this year, Craig says he plans to run in the Nov. 4 election to keep his seat.

Craig will be working with eight other Superior Court judges on the circuit, including Judge Duncan Wheale whose retirement next January will leave another opening.

Wheale's successor will have to go through the same process as Craig, beginning with a nomination and ending with the Governor's final say-so.

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