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The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr.

Judge Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. was born on July 14, 1954, in Detroit, Michigan, to Gwendolyn and Hugh Barrington Clarke, Sr. As a young boy, Clarke enjoyed playing baseball and was influenced by Detroit’s “Motown Sound,” often performing in his school’s talent shows. He attended Pattengill Elementary School and Dixon Elementary School before attending Webber Junior High School as an adolescent. In 1967, during a time of great social and political upheaval, Clarke witnessed the Detroit Riots from his front porch. He went on to graduate at the age of sixteen from Cass Technical High School.

In 1971, Clarke enrolled at Oakland Community College. Afterwards, he pursued his B.S. degree in criminal justice at Wayne State University. Clarke followed his career path by attending the Detroit City Police Academy. However, in 1976, due to a lack of city funding, he accepted a managing position at a women’s clothing store before enrolling at Thomas M. Cooley Law School. While in law school, Clarke worked on the drafting of the Revised Michigan Probate Code and various amendments to the Michigan Code of Criminal Procedure. He graduated in 1979 with his J.D. degree and went on to work for the Associate General Counsel for the State Senate. Then, in 1981, Clarke went to work at the law firm of Rosenbaum and Holland. The firm later added another attorney and changed its name to Rosenbaum, Holland, Clarke and Foster. In 1989, Clarke founded Hugh Clarke and Associates and began working on high profile criminal cases including providing legal services for rapper Tupac Shakur and NFL football player Muhsin Muhammad.

In 2000, Clarke married former Olympic track and field silver medalist, Judith Brown. The married couple went on to have a baby boy, Hugh Barrington Clarke, IV. Clarke became a member of the Lansing Board of Education in 2003 and served as its president in 2007. During that time, he served as chair of the superintendent search committee and chair of the personnel search. In 2010, Clarke was appointed as a judge on the 54-A District Court in Lansing, Michigan.

Accession Number

A2008.040

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/29/2008

Last Name

Clarke

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Barrington

Occupation
Schools

Cass Technical High School

Pattengill Elementary School

Wayne State University

Webber Middle School

Western Michigan University Cooley Law School

First Name

Hugh

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

CLA16

Favorite Season

Summer

Sponsor

Boule Foundation

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Favorite Quote

Grow Up To Be Somebody.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Interview Description
Birth Date

7/14/1954

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Lansing

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Goat (Curried)

Short Description

Defense lawyer and judge The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. (1954 - ) represented high profile clients like rapper Tupac Shakur and NFL football player Mushin Muhammad.

Employment

Hugh B. Clarke and Associates

54-A Judicial District Court

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. talks about his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. talks about the West Indian immigrant community

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke remembers his trips to Jamaica

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. remembers Marcus Garvey

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. talks about the changes in postcolonial Jamaica

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke describes his father's personality

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. describes his likeness to his father

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. remembers his neighborhood on the east side of Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. remembers his interest in baseball

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. recalls the fashions of his youth

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. recalls the notable figures in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. remembers the civil unrest in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. recalls moving to the northwest side of Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. remembers the black community in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. describes his early education

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. recalls his experiences of school desegregation, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. recalls his experiences of school desegregation, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. remembers Webber Middle School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. describes his teachers at Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. recalls how he secured a job at the Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. describes his social life

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. recalls his interest in the Black Panther Party

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. describes his early aspiration to become a lawyer

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. recalls the Oakland Community College in Farmington Hills, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. remembers his arrest for an unpaid ticket

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. describes his experiences at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. describes his experiences at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington recalls the notable figures at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. remembers Willie Horton

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. recalls his start as a criminal defense lawyer

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. describes the founding of the Lansing Black Lawyers Association

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. talks about the African American community in Lansing, Michigan

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. remembers defending Tupac Shakur

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. remembers representing Muhsin Muhammad

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. talks about the case of Claude McCollum, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. talks about the case of Claude McCollum, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. talks about his presidency of the Lansing Board of Education

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. describes his concerns for the public schools in Lansing, Michigan

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. describes his concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. talks about his plans for the future

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

7$4

DATitle
The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. remembers his interest in baseball
The Honorable Hugh Barrington Clarke, Jr. remembers defending Tupac Shakur
Transcript
A lot of it revolved around sports and mostly playing baseball because there were a number of us that lived in the neighborhood, right there on the street, within a few houses of each other. In those days when you went to a ballgame a lot of times you got all your equipment by going to special days at Tiger Stadium [Detroit, Michigan]. They had bat day, they had ball day, they had hat day so usually by sometime in July you had a baseball bat, you had a ball and I don't mean a softball you had an official hardball and you had your hat and we'd play baseball on the street or in the alley behind the house but a lot of times it was right there in the street. We didn't have any parks or schools nearby and during the day you'd play. I know the street had a bend in it at one point and if you hit it down there that far that was just automatically a homerun but if you hit it towards somebody house, man, it was funny you'd watch all the kids scatter and everybody's yelling and hollering no chips on windows and if you didn't want to hit the ball you're the one left standing there. So somebody generally paid your parents a visit to get their window fixed.$$You were playing with a hardball in the street.$$Absolutely but we were good players we could catch, we could throw. I think the difference between kids nowadays we didn't have all those video games but we learned how to take things, make things and play for our self. So if you didn't have a hardball you'd play baseball and if you didn't have anybody to play with that day you played catch. You took a tennis ball and you throw it against the stairs. Well the ball is going to go in a different direction so you learn good lateral movement and you'd watch the Tigers [Detroit Tigers], you wanted to be like Dick McAuliffe and make some of those dives of backhand pickup. Shortstops knew those things and we would immolate those guys when we played. In the '60s [1960s] when Willie Horton who was a big hero in Detroit [Michigan], product of Northwestern High School [Detroit, Michigan] would play number twenty-three and that big bat. I used to love when I got the Willie Horton bat. I didn't like the LK line bats because they were small and a little skinnier but when it was bat day and you got that Willie Horton bat man you had a bat because that was a bigger bat--big fat head on that bat 'cause Willie used to swat them out the ballpark and it was just great when you had one of those. I think some of my fondest memories are bat day at Tiger Stadium because when you'd start to rally, you got maybe ten, twelve however many thousand kids in the stands with a baseball bat pounded that bat up and down the concrete and you would just hear that whole ballpark reverberate, man. I swear sometimes you could see the stadium moving, we just had it rocking and going in there. When you go there in the winter Thanksgiving games I would get to go to as the women in the house were cooking dinner--Thanksgiving dinner and I would go my Uncle Al [Allen Clarke (ph.)] would take me. I remember we'd sit there and it's cold out there and you'd have on your--I don't know how I could even move there 'cause I was so stuffed up with clothes and sitting there kind of like this but it was great to be there. So those are some of the better memories and some of the more fond memories I have.$I want to talk about some of your I guess--there are some noted, notable cases here some are notable because of the people involved more so but just walk us through maybe three cases of some significance (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) I have three clients that stand out. One of them was the late rapper Tupac Shakur; Tupac is a former client. Tupac was on the campus of Michigan State [Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan] several years ago. He did a concert and an incident occurred--$$This is like back in the '90s [1990s] I guess right?$$Yes and an incident occurred where he was arrested and charged with felonious assault which is a four year felony offense. The allegation was he threatened somebody with a baseball bat. I had a young African American woman working for me as my secretary. I remember I came in one day and she was calling me and she was--I came in and she was just so excited to tell me that Watani Tchyemba called from Atlanta, Georgia and wanted me to represent Tupac Shakur and I'm looking at her like who, to do what? I won't take the Fifth [Fifth Amendment], I didn't know who Tupac Shakur was and she was busy trying to explain to me who he was and some of the movies he had done and I said, "Well, okay we'll see." She really encouraged me to take the case. So I called this gentleman back in Atlanta who actually happened to be Mr. Shakur's agent or lawyer and he filled me in on some of the details and I went out to the police station in East Lansing [Michigan] lockup. I talked to him, got him through the arraignment, got him bailed out and we ended up resolving the case over the next few months. It took us a few months because of the notoriety to get the case resolved to where it should have been. It was right after he walked out of court here at a sentencing that he went to New York [New York] to face some criminal sexual conduct charges there that he got convicted in New York. Actually during the trial I believe at one point, he was shot several times but he ended up being convicted of criminal sexual assault in New York and was sentenced to prison. We exchanged a couple of letters during that time. Then there was of course the time he got out and he was in Las Vegas [Nevada] and was shot and killed which was I think unfortunate. It was always let's be on high alert when Tupac was coming 'cause once we got the call--he knew when he had to be here for court appearances. I'd pick him up at the airport and get him settled in the hotel, kind of keep an eye on him and make sure he wasn't getting into any trouble while he was here on my watch.$$What was your impression of Tupac Shakur as a person basically?$$You know if you stripped away that gangster rap persona mentality he was really kind of a quiet, thoughtful guy. We had times to discuss where he wanted his movie career to go, the roles he wanted to play. He wanted to play an attorney; he wanted to play a lawyer in a movie. He didn't mind some of the parts he had undertaken; obviously, it was rather lucrative for him. But he wanted to expand his horizon and kind of get out of that on the acting piece and I just thought that was real interesting some of those kinds of conversations that we would have. But he would come in--he'd come to town, we'd get him checked in the hotel, he'd have a travelling partner with him his road manager I guess he was, and he caused me no trouble, no problems, nothing. I mean it was always fun when he came if he had a new something coming out he'd bring me some demo CDs to listen to and we'd talk--we'd chat about the industry, his life and his music. I think he wanted to turn some things around. He'd expressed concern about his record and I mean his criminal record and we would have some talks and with Tupac you have to kind of leave some of this public nonsense alone. You don't have to emulate and do what you talk about in your music. So we unfortunately just never got a chance to see him fully develop and go in the direction he wanted to go from the film industry point of view.$$Okay you were telling me before we rolled that sometimes when you're angry you play Tupac.$$I do that and I have done that for years. I'll get a little angry and ticked off and if I want to blow off some steam of course a lot of times I make sure there is nobody home or I put my headphones on because obviously some of the language in his songs are kind of raw, misogynistic at times but I'll just put it on and crank it up and just get it out of my system that way. So somehow his music is therapeutic for me.$$And you didn't know who he was in the beginning?$$I had no idea so we went from being a stranger to, to this day he's still kind of my therapist.$$It's interesting at one time you were perpetrating [sic.] being a Panther with the beret and black leather jacket and his mother Afeni Shakur who is a Black Panther [Black Panther Party] in New York (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Right.