Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Ireland's Chief Justice to speak at CBA luncheon this Friday

The Hon Mr. Justice Frank Clarke, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ireland will be the featured speaker Friday, May 18, at noon, at the CBA, at a luncheon sponsored by the CBA, the Illinois Commission on Professionalism, and the Irish Fellowship Club of Chicago.

Tickets for the event are $65 each, or $520 for a table of eight, and may be obtained online or by contacting Tamra Drees, CBA Events Coordinator, at (312) 554-2057 or by email at tdrees@chicagobar.org.

Clarke was appointed the 12th Chief Justice of Ireland in July of 2017 by Ireland’s President Michael D. Higgins. Born in Walkinstown, Dublin, Justice Clarke received his B.A. from University College Dublin in Mathematics and Economics.

The Irish Supreme Court's website notes that Clarke "was called to the Bar in 1973 and to the Inner Bar in 1985. He practiced mainly in the commercial and public law fields (including constitutional law) and was twice appointed by the Supreme Court as counsel to present argument on references of Bills to the Supreme Court by the President under Article 26 of the Constitution. He also acted as counsel to the Public Accounts Committee on its inquiry into the DIRT tax issue and was external counsel to the Commission to Inquiry into Child Abuse (Laffoy and Ryan Commissions)."

Before becoming a judge, Clarke "served for many years on the Bar Council including a term of two years (1993-1995) as its Chair. He also served as Chair of the Council of King's Inns from 1999 until 2004. He was a member of the Council of the International Bar Association from 1997 to 2004, serving as co-Chair of the Forum for Barristers and Advocates (the international representative body for the independent referral bars) from 1998 to 2002." He became a "judge of the High Court" in November 2004 and was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court in March 2012.

According to a July 26, 2017 article by Mary Minihan and Ruadhán Mac Cormaic in the Irish Times, Justice Clarke "is a socially liberal judge who is seen as one of the most influential figures on the Supreme Court."

The Irish Times article (from which the accompanying photo was obtained) notes that Clarke "was the first member of his family to go to university." According to Minihan and Mac Cormaic's article, "Mr Justice Clarke joined Fine Gael in the summer after leaving Drimnagh Castle CBS and began to canvass for Jim Mitchell in Dublin South West. Later he wrote speeches for Garret FitzGerald and was election agent for the former Fine Gael TD George Birmingham, who is now a judge on the Court of Appeal. He also ran unsuccessfully for the Seanad in the 1980s.... [Clarke] was head-hunted for the High Court in 2004 by the Fianna Fáil/PD coalition."

An article in the July 26, 2017 Irish Examiner quotes Paul McGarry SC, then Chairman of the Council of The Bar of Ireland, as saying that Clarke is "one of the brightest legal minds of his generation" and "a strong advocate and defender of the importance of judicial independence."

Clarke is also a horse racing fan. According to McGarry, as quoted in the Irish Examiner, "As a trained mathematician, [Clarke] approaches rulings with a wonderfully methodical manner and relishes nothing more than a case with a numerical conundrum. It’s no secret that this has also stood him in good stead in his personal passion – horse racing." A second July 26 article in the Irish Times, by Ruadhán Mac Cormaic, notes that Clarke "is a regular at race meetings and a Leinster rugby season-ticket holder."

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