by Max Brantley
Add a third candidate to the race for Supreme Court to fill former Justice Tom Glaze's seat. It was filled in the interim after his retirement by Elana Wills, who cannot run for the job.
The latest candidate is Appeals Court Judge Karen Baker of Conway, who notes in her announcement her authorship of the recent opinion reversing the PSC approval of a permit to build a caol-fired power plant in Hempstead County.
Appeals Court Judge Courtney Henry and Circuit Judge John Fogleman had announced previously.
This one could be a runoff in the making, with candidates from Northwest (Henry), Central (Baker) and Northeast (Fogleman) Arkansas.
Judge Karen Baker, 45, currently in her ninth year on the Arkansas Court of Appeals recently told separate meetings of the Association of Arkansas County Judges, County Clerks and County Treasurers that, although she had not yet officially announced her candidacy, she intends to seek a spot on the Arkansas Supreme Court next year. Baker recently wrote the majority opinion reversing the Arkansas Public Service Commission’s grant of a CECPN to build the Turk Coal Plant in Hempstead County . Before her election to the Court of Appeals in 2000, Baker was a Circuit trial judge for the 20th Judicial District. She was introduced to the Arkansas Treasurer’s Association by Marcus Vaden, President of the Arkansas Prosecuting Attorney's Association and Prosecuting Attorney for the 20th district, who said of Baker, "We need someone with her experience as a trial lawyer, a trial judge and an appellate judge on the Supreme Court."
Baker said that, with over 22 years experience as a lawyer and over fourteen years as a trial and appellate judge, she is qualified for the Supreme Court. "This is an important job. The Supreme Court makes decisions that affect your life. You need look no further than the Lakeview case and the resulting school consolidation to see that the decisions of the Supreme Court impact the lives of all Arkansans."
Noting that she had been encouraged to run for this position by colleagues convinced that an experienced Appellate Court Judge should seek the Supreme Court seat, Baker pointed out that she had written about 500 opinions and participated in approximately 2000 decisions as an appellate judge and presided over thousands of cases as a trial judge. In describing her rural Arkansas background, Baker said that she did not come from a family of lawyers or politicians. "My qualifications are my own," Baker said.
Baker and her husband, David Hogue, live in Clinton and are the parents of 3 children, ages 14, 9 and 7 years.