Christie had better hope that Jindal’s endorsement counts for more in New Jersey than it does in Louisiana. Jindal has backed three big losers this year, most recently his former executive counsel, Jimmy Faircloth, who will not be adorning the state Supreme Court after all. The honor goes instead to District Judge Marcus Clark.
If you are looking for an argument in favor of an appointed bench, you couldn’t do better than this election. The only reason to vote for either Clark or Faircloth was that the other was a dispiriting prospect. In the end turnout Saturday was higher in Clark’s neck of the woods, Ouachita Parish, than in Rapides Parish, whence Faircloth hails.
Faircloth has no judicial experience, but that was not such a great disadvantage here as it might normally be, since Clark has demonstrated an inability to cut the mustard as a jurist at the district level. Now he will ascend to the very court that suspended him without pay in 2004 for failing to move cases along, sometimes for as long as a year.
That was a little while ago, but a suspension is a memorable event for a judge and Clark could hardly have forgotten why he landed in hot water. He nevertheless strayed repeatedly from the truth in the campaign, claiming that he had merely been the victim of case overload.
That earned a rebuke from the Judicial Campaign Oversight Committee after Faircloth complained. The committee issued a news release last month quoting from the suspension order: “Judge Clark himself did not attribute his failure to decide these cases timely to an excessive administrative workload. It was clear that these cases simply fell through the cracks on account of Judge Clark’s own inefficiency.”
Anyone running for the Supreme Court should surely be licking his lips to find his only opponent had been officially deemed incompetent and untruthful. With Jindal raising money on his behalf, and bombarding the district with recorded telephone messages of support, Faircloth would have to work very hard to come across as the inferior candidate.
He managed nevertheless to make a fool of himself with a second complaint to the Campaign Oversight Committee. He accused Clark of mudslinging by labeling him a trial attorney.
Since Faircloth’s own Web site boasted that he is a member of the Louisiana Trial Lawyers’ Association, voters had to wonder whether he possessed the reasoning powers required in a Supreme Court justice.
Faircloth represented the Coushatta Tribe, operator of Louisiana’s largest casino, before joining the Jindal administration, as Clark was fond of reminding voters, who were presumably expected to find that sinister.
Maybe they did, but executive counsel to Jindal, peddler of bogus reform, is a much more dubious role.
Jindal went all out to get two pals elected to the state Senate this year, and both sank without trace. Potential candidates for office might be well advised to take cover if there is any danger of a Jindal endorsement. The threat is there. Jindal’s Chief of Staff, Timmy Teepell, said after Faircloth’s defeat, “Bobby was happy to endorse him. Jimmy wasn’t the first candidate Bobby endorsed and he won’t be the last.”
Perhaps the dire effect of Jindal’s support is limited to Louisiana, and it may be too early to write Christie off in New Jersey.
But here it is clear that Jindal’s ventures into the endorsement game have been an embarrassment. This time he opposed a candidate with glaring weaknesses and still came nowhere near getting Faircloth home. Evidently the local DAs and sheriffs who supported Clark have more influence than the governor.
Not that that is saying much.
James Gill is a staff writer with the Times Picayune. He can be reached at (504) 826-3318 or at email@example.com.