Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Marcus Clark

Six people say they may become a candidate for the state Supreme Court in light of Justice Marcus Clark’s decision last week to retire from the high court in June 2020.

Clark, 63, of West Monroe, has recently been on medical leave. He was elected to a 10-year term in 2016, meaning an election will be held next year to fill Clark’s unexpired term.

He filed a prospective retirement with the Secretary of State’s office on Dec. 9, declaring his plans to retire June 30, 2020. According to a Dec. 10 letter by state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Johnson, Clark’s retirement “apparently became irrevocable at the time” it was filed.

A primary election will be held in November 2020 with qualifying in early July 2020.

Clark, who is an associate justice, was elected to the Supreme Court in 2009. He served as a judge at Fourth Judicial District Court from 1997 to 2009 and as an assistant district attorney at then-Fourth Judicial District Attorney Jerry Jones’ office.

The district includes Bienville, Caldwell, Catahoula, Claiborne, Concordia, East Carroll, Franklin, Grant, Jackson, LaSalle, Lincoln, Madison, Morehouse, Ouachita, Rapides, Richland, Tensas, Union, West Carroll, and Winn parishes.

Some of the possible candidates have publicly declared their plans to become candidates while others are still weighing the race.

Third Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Shannon Gremillion, a Democrat from Alexandria, says he is preparing to launch a campaign.

“I’m in,” said Gremillion. “I’m all in. It’s an important job. I have a strong record as an appellate judge, and I want to bring that record to the Supreme Court.”

Gremillion said he spoke with Clark and wished him well.

“He has done a great service for the state of Louisiana,” Gremillion said. “I told him frankly that if I ran I would want to be as good a justice as he was. He’s a fine man and I wish him all the best in the world.”

Others who say they are considering becoming a candidate for the Supreme Court include Second Circuit Court of Appeal Judge James “Jimbo” Stephens, an Independent from Baskin; Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Daniel “Danny” Ellender, a Republican from Mer Rouge; and former Grant Parish district attorney Ed Tarpley, a Republican from Pollock.

“We’re looking at our options,” Stephens said. “We’ll make a decision by the first of the year.”

Ellender said he has not yet decided on his plans. “I am considering it,” Ellender said. “My family and I are prayerfully considering it.”

Tarpley, who practices law in Alexandria, confirmed he was considering the race as well.

“Yes, I am definitely looking at it,” he said.

Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Wendell Manning, a Republican from Monroe, says he is considering a campaign, too.

"I have been talking with my family and my supporters and would consider it an honor to serve on the state Supreme Court just as it has been an honor to serve at Fourth Judicial District Court," Manning said. "We are strongly considering it."
 
Manning has served at the district court for 18 years.

Second Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Jay McCallum, of Farmerville, who is registered “no party,” also is weighing the race. McCallum could not be reached.

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