by Max Brantley
Judicial races were high on my list of interests Tuesday.
* Courtney Henry, who smashed John Fogleman in a race for the state Supreme Court, is a force of political nature, moving to the top court after only a year on the intermediate appeals court and an earlier career as a judicial clerk. If you could run for U.S. Supreme Court she'd be on the ballot next year and I wouldn't bet against her. I only hope her judicial footprint doesn't match that of her professed judicial exemplar, Chief Justice John Roberts.
* Karen Baker ran strong just about everywhere to lead the ticket and looks in a strong position against Tim Fox in a runoff for another Supreme Court seat. I don't think being a female hurt given the current all-male court. (Correction: it's all-male in terms of elected positions. Justice Elana Wills is serving by appointment until a successor is elected.) Nor did her outreach to Republican groups and the Religious Right hurt her. A lack of enthusiasm for Fox among the bar was a factor, too. The Democrat-Gazette compared Baker with Learned Hand and Richard Arnold in an endorsement editorial. I don't think Learned Hand would have closed the divorce file, including initial pro forma pleadings. of a divorce case because it involved a millionaire local businessman (Acxiom's Charles Morgan), as Baker did. Nor do I think Judge Arnold would have treated press inquiries about the closure with the contempt Judge Baker treated our petition in the case, but perhaps that was an indiscretion of a youthful judge. Let's hope. She's issued some rulings since that commend her. More of those should she win the runoff. Less secrecy for fat cats. This runoff will be in November, by the way, not with the preferential primary runoffs.
* Wendell Griffen promises to restore some integrity to the circuit court bench, succeeding the removed Willard Proctor. Do I think Griffen will ruffle some feathers before it's over? Of course I do.
* It's not final, but various compilations indicate Court of Appeals Judge Jo Hart may have narrowly survived a strong challenge from Circuit Judge Rhonda Wood of Conway. Wood, you'll recall, touted her approval by a Republican committee in her campaign, an ethical miscue for what is supposed to be a non-partisan race.