The Honorable Michael Thomas McSpadden was born July 24, 1944 to Frances Elizabeth Harlin McSpadden, IA and Ray Thompson McSpadden in Borger, Texas. He passed away at his home in Houston, Texas on September 7, 2021.
Mike was a hardcore alumnus of the University of Oklahoma (undergraduate and JD), and his OU ring never left his finger. For three years, he was the Big Eight singles champion; tennis was not just a sport but a way to meet good people.
Like his cousin – Navy veteran, Congressman and Will Rogers’ grandnephew – Clem McSpadden, Mike was drafted into military service. He was honorably discharged from the United States Marines in 1974 and always remembered the lessons learned from General Rathvon M. Tompkins, a man who became a longtime friend. Mike worked for Philips Petroleum in Houston as in-house legal counsel for two years.
According to Carol Vance, who was a district attorney in 1977, when Mike started out as assistant district attorney for Harris County, “Mike was one of the two best trial lawyers in the history of our office.” Of this career change, Mike always said, “The best decision I’ve ever made.” Carol Vance was his mentor, friend and favorite doubles partner.
Mike was appointed to the 209th District Criminal Court in 1982 and was elected and re-elected each term until he stepped off the bench in 2019. He was one of the highest-rated criminal court judges in every poll. of Judicial Qualification from the Houston Bar Association, and in 1986 it topped the list. He ran his court with old-school decorum: each accused was treated with dignity in a calm and respectful courtroom. He was tough on crime but spoke about the insanity of jailing people for residue and less than a gram of drugs. “Tackle the underlying cause of drug abuse,” he said.
Like many residents of Harris County, Justice McSpadden believed the direct ticket option was for the uninformed. The Texas legislature accepted and abolished this option in 2020. The non-partisan election of judges is something Mike was hoping to see come true. Voters must do their homework on the background and qualifications of judges.
Proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Mike made a difference in this world are all of the at-risk children he spent time with – in their schools (especially Crawford) and in his courtroom – who chose to become productive and law-abiding citizens. “These Friday visits were the most rewarding and satisfying job I have ever done,” he wrote to HISD Superintendent Frank Petruzielo. In the Congressional Record, House of Representatives, September 21, 2012, the Honorable Ted Poe wrote: “Justice McSpadden is a positive mentor for young men at risk. Justice McSpadden urged his probationers to successfully fulfill their obligations and introduced them to resources that have helped them in the present and permanently change their lives.
Mike believed that there was no better way to demonstrate his commitment to the community than to serve others. He has worked with the Baylor College of Medicine Teen Health Clinic, Chuck Norris KICKSTART Kids, Childress Foundation, Assistance League, Cherokee Nation, University of Oklahoma, and he was president of the George Hermann Society when the hospital Hermann was still private. He loved the warmth and hospitality of everyone who participated in the annual RO tennis tournament and considered the club members and staff to be part of his family.
He remains to honor his life his many friends and colleagues at the courthouse, his sister, Judy McSpadden Houston and his niece, Hilary Houston Casillas, as well as a large tribe of Cherokee McSpaddens (descendants of Jesse Bushyhead, who ruled 1,200 Cherokees on the Tears Trail) who met regularly at Mike’s family home in Bartlesville for reunions.
Mike returns home to Oklahoma. If you wish, please donate to Wounded Warriors, Sooners Helping Sooners or Texas Children’s Hospital in memory of Mike’s little brother, Tommy, who died at a young age of a heart defect. www.waltripfuneraldirectors.com
Posted by Tulsa World on September 12, 2021.