OPINION

OKLAHOMA’S BROKEN JUDICIAL SYSTEM


by Steve Fair & Georgia Williams

Judges and Justices in Oklahoma are appointed by the Governor and then confirmed by the State Senate. The Governor is given three possible nominees by the Judicial Nominating Commission, a group of fifteen (15). Six are appointed by the Governor and six by the Oklahoma Bar Association. The other three members are chosen At Large by the Commission itself.
 Each Justice periodically appears on the ballot to be RETAINED or REMOVED. Since Oklahoma went to a RETENTION ballot for the judiciary, NO JUDGE HAS BEEN REMOVED! There are eight judges/justices on the November ballot.
 It is difficult to find information on them, but we have done our best to find what we could. We have based our recommendations on two primary considerations; (1) Who appointed them. If they were appointed by a liberal, then it very likely they are liberal and (2) Their length of service. There are two on the 2020 ballot who have served more than 30 years on the court.
 It is past time for Oklahoma to have judicial reform. There should be term limits for all the judges/justices on the three courts of last resort. We encourage you to contact your legislators and ask them to initiate judicial reform in Oklahoma which includes not only term limits, but the dismantling of a self-serving appointee system that is controlled by the Bar Association.

SUPREME COURT JUSTICES

  • YES! Justice M. John Kane IV, Age: 58
    Appointed to Court: January 2019 by: Governor Kevin Stitt; Third generation lawyer from Pawhuska; Served as District Judge for 14 years
  • NO! Justice Tom Colbert: Age: 71
    Appointed to Court: 2004 by Governor Brad Henry
    Former public school teacher in Chicago; First African-American to serve on Supreme Court; Has served on Courts of Criminal Appeals & Civil Appeals
  • YES! Justice Richard Darby Age: 62 District: 9th (SW Oklahoma)
    Appointed to Court: 2018 by: Governor Mary Fallin; District Judge for 24 years in Altus; Wife is Superintendent of Christian School
    COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS
  • YES! Justice Rob Hudson – Age: 62
    Appointed to Court: 2015 by Governor Mary Fallin
    Former DA in Payne County; Former Special District Judge; Established Oklahoma’s 1st drug court; Baptist Deacon
  • NO! Justice Gary Lumpkin Age: 74
    Appointed to Court: 1989 by Governor Henry Bellmon
    Former District Judge; Presiding Judge for CCA( 4th time); Been on CCA for 31 years; From Madill, OK;
    Former Marine Reserves
    COURT OF CIVIL APPEALS
  • NO! Judge Jane Wiseman Age: 74
    Appointed to Court: 2005 by Governor Brad Henry
    Former District Judge; Was nearly removed in 2014; Officiated at first same sex marriage in Oklahoma
  • NO! Judge Deborah Barnes Age: 62
    Appointed to Court: 2008 by Governor Brad Henry
    Breast cancer survivor; Has been retained twice;
    Graduated 1st in her law school class
  • NO! Judge Keith Rapp Age: 86
    Appointed to Court: 1984 by Governor George Nigh
    Navy veteran; Former District Judge; Former NASA Engineer

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