Peter S. Craig retired from his law career in 1989 to concentrate on his other passion: researching his Swedish heritage to publish articles and books. Now he’s back in Court – leading a class-action lawsuit against the DC government.

The lawsuit claims that the government used a flawed property tax assessment methodology that resulted in wildly unfair assessments for the past three years.

Craig, who lives in Cleveland Park with his wife, Sally, estimates that he spends 80 hours a week on the case. He says he has 45 notebooks full of documents and correspondence with D.C. officials that mark his efforts at public activism.

“It bothers the hell out of me,” he said. “I’d rather do my history and genealogy.”

The current lawsuit is in Superior Court, which handed Craig some important victories when Judge Eugene N. Hamilton certified the case as a class-action suit and denied a motion from District lawyers to throw out all petitioners who had not first appealed to the city’s appeals board.

Craig has said that the city’s assessment methodology is flawed because it does not assess each home individually, but rather applies blanket — and often inaccurate — assessments in different neighborhoods. The result, he says, is that the tax burden unfairly falls more heavily on some homeowners than it does on others. He estimates that 35,000 homeowners were adversely affected in 2002.

Craig, who has four grown children and two grandchildren, came to Washington after graduating from Yale Law School in 1953. He spent 10 years working for Covington & Burling, 18 with Southern Railway Co., two with the U.S. Department of Transportation and finished his career with Amtrak.

His real passion, he said, is researching his ancestry, not handling lawsuits these days.

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