Friday, March 04, 2016

TOP STORY >> Cabot judge runoff Nov. 8

Leader staff writer

Ward City Attorney Clint McGue and incumbent Joseph (Joe) O’Bryan will face off once again for Lonoke County District Judge-Northern Division judge in a runoff set to coincide with the Nov. 8 general election.

McGue came out on top in Tuesday’s primary with 4,104 votes, but the 38.83 percent was short of the over 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff.

O’Bryan came in second with 3,608 votes, or 34.13 percent.

McGue said he was thrilled with Tuesday’s results and not surprised by the runoff because there were three good candidates for the position, including Cabot Attorney John Flynn, who fell short with 2,858 votes — 27.04 percent.

McGue also said he wants to maintain momentum and would ramp up his campaign again at the end of this summer. He added that he hopes voters remember this nonpartisan contest and don’t get distracted by the partisan races in November.

O’Bryan also said he wasn’t surprised by the runoff, since there were three candidates.

He was taking down signs Friday but said they’d be back up in the fall.

“I’ve got a lot of work to do....We’re going to put our best foot forward,” O’Bryan told The Leader.

McGue said last month that he had been Ward’s city attorney for more than 20 years, spending a lot of that time in municipal court, and then district court.

He called seeking the seat a “natural progression” and a “civic calling.”

McGue also said then, “Ideally, (I’d like) to make it so district court isn’t frightening for anyone,” since it’s usually their first point of contact in the court system. He believes a good judge has the right mindset and attitude, being “even-headed and fair, and tough and compassionate at the same time.”

McGue, told The Leader previously that, as judge, he would also make sure everyone feels they’ve had an opportunity to say what they want.

He graduated from the Chicago-Kent College of Law.

McGue’s experience includes working for the Arkansas Attorney General Office’s civil division, being Allport city judge, serving as a prosecuting attorney in Ward and operating his own firm.

He is a member of the American Bar Association, Arkansas Bar Association, Lonoke County Bar Association, Arkansas City Attorney Association, International Municipal Lawyers Association, Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association, Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission, Cabot Housing Authority board and Advisory Board of Community Bank of Cabot.

McGue is also a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer.

Last month, O’Bryan said he’d like to continue presiding over the Cabot, Ward and Austin district courts because, “I enjoy it. I think I do a great job. I don’t know if other people think so or not. I think they do. I believe they do believe that.”

The cards O’Bryan passed out before the primary said he has more than 35 years of experience presiding over juvenile, small claims, municipal and district courts.

O’Bryan also promised, on the card, to obey the U.S. and state Constitutions; follow the law, not make it; and continue treating defendants with dignity and respect.

It states, if re-elected, he would institute a program to collect unpaid fines that are more than one year old, continue programs for domestic violence victims and supervised probation, and remain fair and impartial.

About how he approaches his job, O’Bryan said then, “Always listen to both sides is what you’ve got to do. Not everybody does that. It’s not easy to do.”

The judge was arrested in August for third-degree domestic battery, but special, appointed Faulkner County District Court Judge David Reynolds dismissed the case in early November.