by Max Brantley
A usually reliable source says Susan Hickey of El Dorado, who's a law clerk to retiring federal Judge Harry Barnes, has been interviewed recently by Justice Department officials. That's a strong hint that she may be the pick for the judicial opening in the western district of Arkansas. Caroline Craven and Carlton Jones also had been nominated.
This has political implications. Black lawyers are mad at Sens. Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln because no blacks were initially recommended for any of four judicial vacancies in the state. So far, two white males -- P. K. Holmes of Fort Smith and Judge Price Marshall of Jonesboro -- have been nominated. This would make a third white. Jones, one of the other potential nominees, is black (he was a late recommendation after an original senatorial nominee died) and there have been rumors that senators wanted to steer him into a U.S. attorney position in Fort Smith. It's an alternative a black lawyers' group said recently was unacceptable. That idea may be moot anyway. Jones is running for prosecuting attorney in Texarkana.
This leaves one judgeship in Little Rock. Denise Hoggard had been described as the front-runner for that seat, but there's been a recent campaign to add a black candidate to the list under consideration by the White House. It is an election year. It's a touchy issue for Lincoln, as we've written before.