Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Head to head (so far) in 1st Subcircuit

I don't know when Judge LaGuina Clay-Clark was appointed to the bench; the Law Bulletin seems not to have taken note, and the Order by which she was appointed seem not to have been preserved on the Supreme Court's website. They are not always.

But I do know a few things: Judge Clay-Clark ran from the 1st Subcircuit in 2000 and 2004. Her spot on the ballot was challenged in 2000; a laudatory article in the March 21, 2000 Chicago Defender noted that LaGuina Clay-Clark had "volunteered countless hours working with Rainbow/PUSH coalition [and] indigent detainees" and was "a community activist who has worked for years in Chicago's South Side neighborhoods." A former elementary school teacher in the Chicago Public Schools, Clay-Clark became a lawyer in 1992. In 2000, her judicial candidacy was endorsed, according to the Defender, by Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. and State Senator Emil Jones.

Clay-Clark finished a distant fifth in 2000, more than 10,000 votes behind John O. Steele, now a candidate for the Appellate Court. But by 2004, Clay-Clark finished second to Robert Balanoff, less than 5,000 votes behind the winner.

According to the March 10, 2004 Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, none of the candidates in the 1st Subcircuit, including Judge Clay-Clark, submitted their credentials to screening by any bar association.

Clay-Clark's one opponent so far is Donna L. Cooper, an officer in the Illinois National Guard attached to the 108th Combat Support Sustainment Brigade. I found a web reference that refers to her as a Major -- but the reference is four years old and I do not wish to be discourteous if she's been promoted. A lawyer since 1981, Cooper was among the finalists in the last round of Associate Judge selection.

Cooper was also an Associate Judge finalist in 1999. She has also been an Assistant Corporation Counsel. She was called to active duty in Iraq in 2003. According to Bill Meyers' article for the October 22, 2003 Law Bulletin, Cooper "was the first Illinois JAG reservist called to duty there." Meyers' October 29, 2003 Law Bulletin article said that Cooper's responsibilities in Iraq included "finding and training new judges for Iraq." This was a daunting task, Cooper wrote in an email Meyers cited in his article, but "an amazing experience."

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