Judge John Cole has disqualified Valerie Bailey as a candidate for the 6th Circuit judgeship to which Judge Tim Fox is seeking re-election. The judge agreed with a lawsuit saying she hadn’t been licensed a sufficient period of time to qualify for the judgeship.
Bailey’s lawyer asked for a stay of the ruling pending an appeal, but Cole denied the motion. Time is short. The Pulaski County Election Commission will set its ballot Friday, March 21. The ballots have to go to printers by March 26.
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Cole, a retired judge from Sheridan, heard the case on special assignment so colleagues of Fox on the bench wouldn’t have to hear it.
A lawsuit challenged Bailey’s candidacy because her law license was suspended for a number of years. The law requires that, to become a judge, six years of law licensure before taking the bench. Bailey contended that the time should count from when she was licensed and that the suspension period shouldn’t count against her. She voluntary let her license lapse for that period.
Bailey’s license, issued in 1999, was suspended between 2002 and 2011 because she failed to complete required annual legal education courses. Karen Hulse, who sued, argued that Bailey needed to be reinstated by Jan. 1, 2009 to have the required six years as a licensed attorney to be a qualified candidate.
Hulse has said she has no connection to Fox. Her attorneys say they merely are interested in upholding the law.
Sidelight: Fox has been targeted for criticism for years by a Little Rock lawyer, Sam Perroni, unhappy about a case in which he was involved. A Facebook page, Out Race the Fox, (its authorship is not revealed) encouraged opposition to Fox, posts criticism of him and cheered the news when Bailey, an Education Department lawyer, announced.
PS — Bailey has not filed a campaign finance report yet. But she did file a Statement of Financial Interest. It noted gifts of $2,000 each from Perroni and his wife on March 4. She also reported a $1,000 gift from Nathan Thompson on March 1.
The filing fee for circuit judge is 4 percent of salary, or about $5,500. The practice in other cases has been not to return filing fees of candidates who withdrew, a secretary of state’s office spokesman said.
I called Bailey about the gifts. She declined to comment, but has promised a statement on the day’s events. I’ll post it if I get it.