In the early days of Craig & Craig when it was formed in 1868, it had a blossoming criminal practice through one of its founding partners, Mr. James W. Craig. The practice of Craig & Craig throughout the Twentieth Century refocused its attention to civil litigation, drainage district law, professional liability defense, banking and estate law. However, in 1999, the firm hired a former First Assistant State's Attorney from Coles County, Mr. John F. Watson. The firm has consistently taken criminal defense matters ever since that time with Members John F. Watson and J. Patrick Lee handling those types of cases.
J. Patrick Lee started his law career in private practice in Ford County, Illinois, with a strong emphasis on criminal defense, trying cases ranging from misdemeanors all the way up to first degree murder. In 2004, Mr. Lee served as Assistant Public Defender for Iroquois County, Illinois.
John F. Watson began as an Assistant State's Attorney in Coles County in 1995. After practicing for about eight months in the misdemeanor and traffic section, he was promoted to the position of a felony attorney handling crimes against persons and property such as burglary, theft and forgeries. In 1997 Mr. Watson took a position through the Illinois Appellate Prosecutor's Department prosecuting drug cases for the Fourth District in Coles and surrounding counties. The drug prosecution position, which was closely associated and aligned with the East Central Illinois Task Force, focused on criminal prosecution of drug cases involving simple felony possession matters to complicated criminal drug conspiracy matters at the highest level punishable under Illinois law. Those prosecutions also involved civil forfeitures of vehicles and property associated with the drug crimes. In January of 1999, Mr. Watson was asked to represent the People of the State of Illinois as the First Assistant State's Attorney in Coles County, Illinois, serving in that position until he was hired by Craig & Craig in July of 1999. During Mr. Watson's tenure as an Assistant State's Attorney, the Special Assistant State's Attorney handling drug cases, and the First Assistant State's Attorney he tried many criminal cases and handled a large and substantial number of criminal prosecutions.