The Oklahoma Capitol in Oklahoma City was previously the home of the Oklahoma Supreme Court whose Chief Justice is concurrently the administrator-in-chief of the Oklahoma Court System.

The Oklahoma Court System is the judicial system for the U.S. State of Oklahoma. Based in Oklahoma City, the court system is a unified state court system that functions under the Chief Justice of Oklahoma who is its administrator-in-chief.

Under the judiciary, five types of courts function: Courts of Limited Jurisdiction, Courts of General Jurisdiction, an Immediate Appellate Court, Specials Courts, and Courts of Last Resort. Also, the Oklahoma judiciary contains two independent courts.[1][2] The two Courts of Last Resort arrangement exists only in Oklahoma and neighboring Texas.

All judges and justices requiring appointment are appointed by the Governor of Oklahoma. Candidates must first go through a nominating process through the Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission, which selects three candidates to submit to the Governor for a single selection to the office.[3]

Administration

The Oklahoma Supreme Court is charged with the administration of the entire state court system.[4] The court normally exercises this responsibility through the adoption of rules governing the court system and the behavior of attorneys in state courts.[4] The chief justice is the figure in charge of these rules.[5]

Courts

Under the judiciary, five types of courts function: Courts of Limited Jurisdiction, Courts of General Jurisdiction, an Immediate Appellate Court, Specials Courts, and Courts of Last Resort. Also, the Oklahoma judiciary contains two independent courts.[1][2] The two Courts of Last Resort arrangement exists only in Oklahoma and neighboring Texas.

The Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals are courts of last resort. The Court of Civil Appeals is an intermediate appeals court. The District Courts are courts of general jurisdiction. The Workers’ Compensation Court, Court on Tax Review, and Municipal Courts are special courts with limited jurisdiction. The Court on the Judiciary and the Court of Impeachment are courts that are independent of the administration of the Supreme Court; there is no appeal from these court decisions.

Supreme Court

The Oklahoma Supreme Court is Oklahoma’s court of last resort in all civil matters and all matters concerning the Oklahoma Constitution. It consists of nine justices appointed by the governor to serve life terms, but unlike U.S. Supreme Court justices, they are subject to an election every six years in which voters choose whether or not to retain them. Each justice must be at least 30 years old, have previously been licensed as an attorney for five years, and have lived for at least one year in the Supreme Court judicial district from which they are selected.[3]

Five of the nine justices are required to affirm, modify, or overturn any ruling of any lower court. Once the Court has reached a decision, one justice is selected to write the court’s opinion. Once published, the opinion becomes the controlling factor in the state’s law surrounding the issue(s) it addresses.[6] This is known as “stare decisis“. The justices select from among their members a chief justice and vice chief justice to serve two-year terms.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court is also charged with the administration of the entire state court system.[4] The court normally exercises this responsibility through the adoption of rules governing the court system and the behavior of attorneys in state courts.[4] The chief justice is the figure in charge of these rules.[5]

Court of Criminal Appeals

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals is the Oklahoma court of last resort involving all criminal matters.[7] The five judges are appointed by the Governor with the judges selecting a Chief Judge at the beginning of each term of court. Like the justices of the Supreme Court, the judges serve for life but must stand for election every six years to retain their position.

Regardless of where the appeal comes from, the Court of Criminal Appeals is always the first court to hear an appeal involving the death sentence.

Whenever there is a dispute involving whether a case falls under the jurisdiction of the Oklahoma Supreme Court or Court of Criminal Appeals, the Supreme Court determines, finally and authoritatively, which of the two courts has jurisdiction.[1]

Court of Civil Appeals

Because the Supreme Court has neither the time nor the resources to hear all cases brought before it, the legislature created the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals. When a case is brought before the Supreme Court, the justices may choose to send the case to one of the four divisions of the Civil Court of Appeals, of which two are located in Tulsa and two in Oklahoma City.[4] Each division of the court has three judges; they are appointed for life, but they must stand for election every six years to retain their positions.

Two of the three judges may choose to reaffirm, modify, or overturn any ruling of any lower court. However, if the Oklahoma Supreme Court disapproves of the court’s ruling, it may review the decision.

District Courts

The backbone of the Oklahoma judiciary, the district courts, have general jurisdiction over almost all civil and criminal matters within their sphere of influence. Oklahoma has 77 district courts, each with one or more district judges and an associate district judge. The judges are elected, in a nonpartisan manner, to serve a four-year term. In the event of a vacancy in any of the district courts, the governor appoints a judge to serve until the next election. A special judge may be appointed to assist in the event of a heavy caseload.[8]

Oklahoma is divided into nine Judicial Administrative Districts, involving several district courts to assure a well-organized system. From the judges of the district courts, one is selected to serve as the Presiding Judge, who is responsible for the administration of their district. The Presiding Judge is answerable to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Candidates for district judge must be a practicing lawyer or judge for the past four years and must live in the districts in which they seek election. Associate judges must have been practicing lawyers or judges for the past two years.[9]

Civil appeals are heard by the Oklahoma Supreme Court and criminal appeals are heard by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.[10]

Workers’ Compensation Court of Existing Claims

The Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Court of Existing Claims is a temporary court that hears workers’ compensation claims for injuries occurring before February 1, 2014. It replaces the Workers’ Compensation Court, which was dissolved by SB1062, codified in 85A O.S. Title 85A creates a new Workers’ Compensation Commission, an administrative agency to hear workers’ compensation claims arising on or after February 1, 2014.[11] Claims submitted to the Court of Existing Claims are heard by a single judge in either Tulsa or Oklahoma City. A party who disapproves of the judge’s ruling may request a hearing en banc, and appeals from such a hearing are heard by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. The court’s mandate is scheduled to expire in 2020.[12][13]

Court of Tax Review

The Oklahoma Court of Tax Review is a special court in the Oklahoma judiciary charged with hearing disputes involving illegal taxes levied by county and city governments. All tax review cases are sent to the Chief Justice of Oklahoma, who then sends the claim to the presiding judge of the administration district from which the claim originated. The presiding judge then appoints three judges to serve as the Court on Tax Review. Appeals from the court are heard by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.[14]

Municipal Courts

With the exception of the Municipal Court of Oklahoma City and the Municipal Court of Tulsa, the Municipal Courts are courts of no record that operate under the administration of the Supreme Court but are not part of the state court system.[2] The judges, unlike any other judge, are appointed directly by the mayors of Oklahoma’s cities. The courts exist to oversee the administration of justice within cities and have jurisdiction only over the violations of city ordinances, which are criminal in nature. They have no civil jurisdiction. Appeals from Municipal Courts are heard by District Courts.

Court on the Judiciary

One of the two independent courts in the Oklahoma Judiciary, the Oklahoma Court on the Judiciary is the court responsible for removing judges from their position if they have committed illegal acts. One of three such courts in the nation (the others are in Texas and Alabama), the Court on the Judiciary insures that other courts best administer justice.

Any judge (aside from Supreme Court justices) may be forcefully removed from office if found guilty of gross neglect of duty, corruption in office, habitual drunkenness, commission while in office of any offense involving moral turpitude, gross partiality in office, oppression in office, or other grounds as specified by the legislature. Forced retirement may occur if the court finds the judge in question to be mentally or physically incapable to perform his job. No other penalties may be imposed by this court, although other courts can hear other charges.[15]

The Court on the Judiciary consists of a nine-member Trial Division and a five-member Appellate Division.[16] The court’s jurisdiction may be called into force by the Governor, Attorney General, Oklahoma Supreme Court, the Oklahoma Bar Association, or by the House of Representatives. Also, private citizens can file a formal complaint against a judge to be heard by the Oklahoma Council of Judicial Complaints. It the complaint is approved, the case is heard by the Trial Division of the Court.[17]

All cases brought before the Court are heard by the Trial Division, and any appeals from it are heard by the Appellate Divisions.[18] There are no appeals from the Appellate Division’s decisions, and not even the Oklahoma Supreme Court may change its rulings.[19]

Court of Impeachment

The second independent court in the Oklahoma Judiciary is the Oklahoma Court of Impeachment, which is the Senate sitting. Impeachment charges are brought by the House of Representatives, and they are heard by the Senate, with the Chief Justice of Oklahoma presiding, unless the Chief Justice or any member of the Oklahoma Supreme Court is charged, in which case the Senate shall select one of its own members to preside.[20]

Impeachment charges may only be brought against the Governor and all other statewide elected state officials (including the Oklahoma Supreme Court Justices) for willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, habitual drunkenness, incompetency, or any offense involving moral turpitude committed while in office. An impeached official is suspended from duty until the conclusion of the impeachment process. Should the impeachment fail, the officer in question returns to his duties. However, if the impeachment is successful and the defendant found guilty, he is removed from office.[21]

Officers

All judges and justices requiring appointment are appointed by the Governor of Oklahoma. Candidates must first go through a nominating process through the Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission, which selects three candidates to submit to the Governor for a single selection to the office.[3]

Composition

Appellate Courts

Supreme Court

SeatJusticeAppointed byTerm startSucceeded
1M. John Kane IVKevin Stitt2019John Reif
2Dustin RoweKevin Stitt2019Patrick Wyrick
3Noma GurichBrad Henry2011Marian P. Opala
4Yvonne KaugerGeorge Nigh1984Ralph B. Hodges
5James R. WinchesterFrank Keating2000Alma Wilson
6Dana KuehnKevin Stitt2021Tom Colbert
7James E. EdmondsonBrad Henry2003Hardy Summers
8Doug CombsBrad Henry2010Rudolph Hargrave
9Richard DarbyMary Fallin2018Joseph M. Watt

Court of Criminal Appeals

SeatJudgeAppointed byTerm startSucceeded
1Dana KuehnMary Fallin2017Clancey Smith
2Mary Fallin2015
3Henry Bellmon1989
4Mary Fallin2017Arlene Johnson
5Brad Henry2005

Court of Civil Appeals

JudgeAppointed byTerm startSucceeded
Kevin Stitt2020Larry Joplin
Kenneth L. BuettnerFrank Keating1996
Robert D. BellBrad Henry2005Carl Jones
Deborah BarnesBrad Henry2008
John F. FischerBrad Henry2007
Jane P. WisemanBrad Henry2005Joe C. Taylor
E. Bay MitchellFrank Keating2002James P. Garrett
Barbara SwintonMary Fallin2016William Hetherington
Brian Jack GoreeMary Fallin2012Carol M. Hansen
Kevin Stitt2021P. Thomas Thornbrugh
W. Keith RappGeorge Nigh1984
Kevin Stitt2020Jerry L. Goodman

Court of Military Appeals

SeatJudgeAppointed byTerm startSucceeded
1Daniel G. WebberKevin Stitt2020
2Michelle L. KeelyKevin Stitt2020
3TBD

Trial Courts

District 1

Beaver, Cimarron, Harper, Texas Counties

JudgePositionCountyAppointed byTerm startSucceeded
Jon ParsleyDistrict JudgeAt-LargeMary Fallin2014
Christine Marie LarsonAssoc. District JudgeCimarronKevin Stitt2019
Ryan D. ReddickAssoc. District JudgeBeaverMary Fallin2011Gerald Riffe
Aric AllleyAssoc. District JudgeHarperElection2015
Clark JettAssoc. District JudgeTexasMary Fallin2012Ryan D. Reddick

District 2

Beckham, Custer, Ellis, Roger Mills, Washita Counties

JudgePositionCountyAppointed byTerm startSucceeded
Jill Carpenter WeedonDistrict JudgeAt-LargeElection2019
Michelle Kirby RoperAssoc. District JudgeBeckhamElection2015
Donna DiricksonAssoc. District JudgeCusterElection2019Jill Carpenter Weedon
Laurie HaysAssoc. District JudgeEllisElection2015
Pat VerSteegAssoc. District JudgeRoger MillsBrad Henry2008
Christopher KellyAssoc. District JudgeWashitaElection2006

District 3

Greer, Harmon, Jackson, Kiowa, Tillman Counties

JudgePositionCountyAppointed byTerm startSucceeded
Brad LeverettDistrict JudgeAt-LargeElection2019
Eric YarboroughAssoc. District JudgeGreerElection2015
Mike WarrenAssoc. District JudgeHarmon
Clark HueyAssoc. District JudgeJackson
Rick MarshAssoc. District JudgeKiowa
Brad BensonAssoc. District JudgeTillman

District 4

District 5

District 6

District 7

Oklahoma County

JudgePositionCountyAppointed byTerm startSucceeded
Don AndrewsDistrict JudgeOklahomaElection2015
Kristina KrikpatrickDistrict JudgeOklahomaKevin Stitt2021Kendra Coleman
Heather CoyleDistrict JudgeOklahomaElection2019
Ray ElliottDistrict JudgeOklahomaFrank Keating1999
VacantDistrict JudgeOklahomaKevin Stitt2021Timothy Henderson
Natalie MaiDistrict JudgeOklahomaElection2019
Richard OgdenDistrict JudgeOklahomaMary Fallin2017Barbara Swinton
Amy PalumboDistrict JudgeOklahomaElection2019Howard Haralson
Kaitlyn AllenDistrict JudgeOklahomaKevin Stitt2021
Susan StallingsDistrict JudgeOklahomaElection2019Bill Graves
Sheila StinsonDistrict JudgeOklahomaKevin Stitt2020Lisa Davis
Kenneth StonerDistrict JudgeOklahomaMary Fallin2017Bryan C. Dixon
Aletia Haynes TimmonsDistrict JudgeOklahomaElection2015
Cindy TruongDistrict JudgeOklahomaElection2011
Anthony L. Bonner, JrDistrict JudgeOklahomaKevin Stitt2021
Richard KirbyAssoc. District JudgeOklahomaElection2007

District 8

Kay and Noble Counties

JudgePositionCountyAppointed byTerm startSucceeded
Lee TurnerDistrict JudgeAt-LargeElection2015DW Boyd
David BandyAssoc. District JudgeKayElection2015
Nikki LeachAssoc. District JudgeNobleMary Fallin2014Dan Allen

District 9

Payne and Logan Counties

JudgePositionCountyAppointed byTerm startSucceeded
Phillip CorleyDistrict JudgeAt-LargeElection2011
Louis DuelAssoc. District JudgeLoganElection2011
Stephen KistlerAssoc. District JudgePayneBrad Henry2008

District 10

Osage County

JudgePositionCountyAppointed byTerm startSucceeded
Stuart TateDistrict JudgeOsageKevin Stitt2020M. John Kane IV
Burl EstesAssoc. District JudgeOsageKevin Stitt2021Stuart Tate

District 11

Nowata and Washington Counties

JudgePositionCountyAppointed byTerm startSucceeded
Linda ThomasDistrict JudgeAt-LargeElection2019
Carl GibsonAssoc. District JudgeNowataElection2011
Russell VaclawAssoc. District JudgeWashingtonElection2007

District 12

Craig, Mayes, and Rogers Counties

JudgePositionCountyAppointed byTerm startSucceeded
Sheila CondrenDistrict JudgeRogersElection2015
Stephen PazzoDistrict JudgeRogersElection2015
Shawn TaylorDistrict JudgeMayesBrad Henry2009
Joseph GardnerAssoc. District JudgeCraigElection
Rebecca GoreAssoc. District JudgeMayesElection
VacantAssoc. District JudgeRogersKevin Stitt2021Kassie McCoy

District 13

District 14

Pawnee, Tulsa Counties

JudgePositionCountyAppointed byTerm startSucceeded
Daman H. CantrellDistrict JudgeTulsaElection2007
Martha Rupp CarterDistrict JudgeTulsaElection2019
Douglas DrummondDistrict JudgeTulsaElection2015
Kurt G. GlasscoDistrict JudgeTulsaBrad Henry2009
Kelly GreenoughDistrict JudgeTulsaMary Fallin2016
Sharon HolmesDistrict JudgeTulsaElection2015
William D. LaFortuneDistrict JudgeTulsaElection2015
Dawn MoodyDistrict JudgeTulsaElection2019
William J. MussemanDistrict JudgeTulsaElection2011
Rebecca NightingaleDistrict JudgeTulsaElection2003
Tracy PriddyDistrict JudgeTulsaElection2019James Caputo
Caroline WallDistrict JudgeTulsaElection2011
James HuberDistrict JudgeTulsaKevin Stitt2020Linda Morrissey
Michelle L. Bodine-KeelyDistrict JudgeTulsaKevin Stitt2020Jefferson Sellers
Patrick PickerillAssoc. District JudgePawneeMary Fallin2013
Clifford SmithAssoc. District JudgeTulsaElection2015

District 15

Adair, Cherokee, Muskogee, Sequoyah, Wagoner Counties

JudgePositionCountyAppointed byTerm startSucceeded
Timothy KingDistrict JudgeMuskogeeKevin Stitt2019Mike Norman
Douglas KirkleyDistrict JudgeWagonerElection2019Darrel Sheppard
Bret SmithDistrict JudgeMuskogeeElection2019Thomas Alford
Jeff PaytonDistrict JudgeAdairElection2007
Elizabeth BrownAssoc. District JudgeAdairElection2003
Joshua KingAssoc. District JudgeCherokeeElection2019Mark Dobbins
Norman ThygesenAssoc. District JudgeMuskogeeBrad Henry2004Thomas Alford
Kyle WatersAssoc. District JudgeSequoyahElection2015
Dennis ShookAssoc. District JudgeWagonerBrad Henry2010Darrel Sheppard

District 16

District 17

District 18

McIntosh, Pittsburg Counties

JudgePositionCountyAppointed byTerm startSucceeded
Mike HoganDistrict JudgeAt-largeElection2019James Bland
Brendon BridgesAssoc. District JudgeMcIntoshElection2019James Pratt
Tim MillsAssoc. District JudgePittsburgElection2015

District 19

District 20

District 21

District 22

District 23

District 24

District 25

District 26

Canadian County

JudgePositionCountyAppointed byTerm startSucceeded
Paul HesseDistrict JudgeCanadianMary Fallin2017
Jack McCurdyDistrict JudgeCanadianElection2019
Bob HugheyAssoc. District JudgeCanadianBrad Henry2008

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Oklahoma State Court Network, “The Oklahoma Appellate Courts” (accessed April 21, 2010).
  2. ^ a b c Oklahoma Legislature Website. “Okla Const. art. VII, § 1”. Archived from the original on 2007-04-22.
  3. ^ a b c Oklahoma State Court Network, “Justices of the Oklahoma Supreme Court” (accessed April 21, 2010).
  4. ^ a b c d e Stephens, Jerry E., “Judiciary,” Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture Archived 2010-05-31 at the Wayback Machine (accessed June 23, 2010).
  5. ^ a b Oklahoma State Court Network, The Supreme Court and the Judicial System” (accessed April 21, 2010).
  6. ^ Oklahoma Legislature Website. “Okla Const. art. VII, § 5”. Archived from the original on 2007-04-22.
  7. ^ Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, “OCCA” (accessed April 21, 2010).
  8. ^ Oklahoma Legislature Website. “Okla Const. art. VII, § 9”. Archived from the original on 2007-07-29.
  9. ^ Oklahoma Legislature Website. “Okla Const. art. VII, § 8”. Archived from the original on 2006-12-09.
  10. ^ Oklahoma State Court Network, “Judges of the District Court” (accessed April 21, 2010).
  11. ^ http://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=471431
  12. ^ http://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=471593
  13. ^ Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Court, “About the Court Archived 2010-04-13 at the Wayback Machine” (accessed April 21, 2010).
  14. ^ Oklahoma Legislature Website, Okla. Stat. tit. 68, § 3024 Archived 2013-04-11 at the Wayback Machine (accessed June 23, 2010).
  15. ^ Oklahoma Legislature Website. “Okla Const. art. VIIA, § 1”. Archived from the original on 2007-06-25.
  16. ^ Oklahoma Legislature Website. “Okla Const. art. VIIA, § 2”. Archived from the original on 2007-06-25.
  17. ^ Oklahoma Legislature Website. “Okla Const. art. VIIA, § 4”. Archived from the original on 2006-12-10.
  18. ^ Oklahoma Legislature Website. “Okla Const. art. VIIA, § 5”. Archived from the original on 2007-04-22.
  19. ^ Oklahoma Legislature Website. “Okla Const. art. VIIA, § 7”. Archived from the original on 2007-06-25.
  20. ^ Oklahoma Legislature Website. “Okla Const. art. VIII, § 3”. Archived from the original on 2007-04-22.
  21. ^ Oklahoma Legislature Website. “Okla Const. art. VIII, § 1”. Archived from the original on 2007-04-22.