General Election 2020 Analyses – Oklahoma Emphasis

Sample ballot link in Oklahoma

If you want to pull your own sample ballot go to http://ok.gov/elections and type in your name and birthdate as prompted.

Friends have been asking me for an election analysis this cycle and what to my wondering eyes did appear but an email from Gary Kilpatrick covering it all in detail. So reviewing it and agreeing on nearly everything, I called and asked his permission to publish for your review. He graciously gave me permission and updated his email to say he was now voting no on the judicial retentions he had previously said ‘your pick’ because of additional information he has found since the email.

That email from Gary is below with my comments in [brackets]:

=====

Many have asked me for my analysis of the upcoming ballot.  So here goes.
For candidates for office I look at three things, in order: (1) what have they done?; (2) what do they propose to do, often reflected in the party platforms?; and (3) what is their character and their worldview?  

The result is for me quite clear [me too!/sc]:


President/Vice President – Donald Trump and Mike Pence

Corporation Commissioner – Todd Hiett

Senator – Jim Inhoff

Representative – Kevin Hern

State Representative – Wendi Stearman


Judicial Retention

JUSTICES OF THE OKLAHOMA SUPREME COURT

District 1 – Matthew John Kane, IV – VOTE YES 

District 1 is our district, and Judge Kane served as a district judge for the 10th Judicial District in Osage County since 2005.  He was appointed to the Supreme Court by Governor Stitt in September 2019. 

District 6 – Tom Colbert – VOTE NO 

[updated from email to recommend a NO Vote by Gary and by me/sc]

Judge Colbert was appointed to the court in 2004 by Gov. Brad Henry. He is the first black justice to sit on the supreme court. Between 1999 and 2004 he was a judge for the Oklahoma Court of Appeals and was appointed by Governor Keating.  

District 9 – Richard B. Darby – VOTE NO

[updated from email to recommend a NO Vote by Gary and by me/sc]

Judge Darby was appointed to the court in 2018 by Gov. Mary Fallin. He previously served as a district court judge in the 3rd Judicial District for 24 years. 

* I often hear that Oklahoma has a very liberal Supreme Court, and that may well be true since many, if not most, of the justices were appointed by liberal Democrat governors. I often hear they are pro-abortion.  So I read the 2015 case regarding Senate Bill 642 – a law that proponents argue “increased protections of women’s reproductive health.” It was a pro-life/anti-abortion bill that addressed consents for minors seeking abortions, provided revised protocols for rape investigations, added requirements for inspections of abortion facilities, and introduced new penalties for violation of existing abortion statutes.  The sticking point in SB 642 is that in our Oklahoma Constitution we have a provision that requires that “every act of the Legislature shall embrace but one subject.” The Supreme Court has argued that the purpose of the “single subject rule” is to prevent the Legislature from making a bill “veto proof” by appending unpopular legislation within popular bills. Unfortunately, when I read SB 642 I fail to see that simply calling the four provisions of the bill related since they address “women’s reproductive health” as not a very robust argument.  If I were a judge I might have agreed with the current justices that SB 642 did not pass the “single subject” smell test. I’m not a lawyer but if I were, my judicial philosophy would be that my job is to interpret the law as written and not insert my worldview into how I view the law.  I believe that is the legal philosophy of Judge Barrett, who is up for confirmation to the Supreme Court of the United States.

JUDGES OF THE COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS

 District 2 – Robert L. Hudson – VOTE YES

Hudson was appointed by Gov. Mary Fallin in 2015. Before that he served as a special district judge for Logan County.  He was the chief law enforcement officer for Payne and Logan counties previously.  Judge Hudson wrote the opinion reversing the Court’s finding of 31 years ago (see comments on Judge Lumpkin). I like it when people are willing to admit they are wrong (of course he was not on the Court 31 years ago). 

 District 3 – Gary L. Lumpkin – VOTE YES

Judge Lumpkin has served on the Court of Criminal Appeals since 1989, when he was appointed by Gov. Henry Bellmon. He previously served as an Oklahoma district court judge. 

 In 1989, when he was first appointed to the Court of Criminal Appeals, Judge Lumpkin dissented on a finding of the Court. Just a couple of weeks ago the Court agreed with Judge Lumpkin’s dissent of 31 years ago and reversed itself. I read the opinion and quite frankly I don’t understand how the court got it wrong in 1989.  I like it when the truth finally wins out! 

JUDGES OF THE OKLAHOMA COURT OF CIVIL APPEALS

District 1 – Office 2 – Jane P. Wiseman – VOTE NO!!

Judge Wiseman was appointed Gov. Brad Henry in 2005. Before that she was a special judge of Tulsa County and a district judge in District 14. She is definitely very liberal. 

District 2 – Office 1 – Deborah B. Barnes – VOTE NO!!

Barnes was appointed by Gov. Henry in 2008.  Prior to her appointment she was the vice president and associate general counsel for Oneok, Inc. She is definitely very liberal. 

District 2 – Office 2 – Keith Rapp – VOTE NO

Gov. George Nigh appointed Judge Rapp to the court in 1984.  Before that he was a judge on the 14th District Court. 

—- JUST A REMINDER.  YOUR VOTE ON THE JUSTICES IS NOT WORTH A PLUG NICKEL.  THEY WILL ALL BE RETAINED.  THE ONLY WAY YOUR VOTE WOULD COUNT WOULD BE IF THERE WERE A WELL-FUNDED RECALL INITIATIVE.  FOR THAT REASON, SOME PEOPLE VOTE NO ON EVERY JUDGE.  I DON’T SUBSCRIBE TO THAT PHILOSOPHY (ALTHOUGH I HAVE VOTED THAT WAY).  I WANT JUDGES WITH A CONSERVATIVE LEGAL PHILOSOPHY, AND WE HAVE A FEW OF THEM ON OUR COURTS NOW. I TRY TO GUESS WHO IS CONSERVATIVE AND WHO IS LIBERAL, AND VOTE NO ON THOSE I THINK LEAN TO THE LIBERAL VIEWPOINT, EITHER IN THEIR LEGAL PHILOSOPHY OR THEIR WORLDVIEW ——-

State Questions:


STATE QUESTION 805 – Criminal History in Sentencing – VOTE NO

 This is an initiative petition which amends the Oklahoma Constitution. Ballotpedia states: 

“yes” vote supports:prohibiting using a person’s past non-violent felony convictions to impose a greater (enhanced) sentence when sentencing a person convicted of a non-violent felony; andproviding for sentence modifications for eligible individuals serving or set to serve sentences that were enhanced based on past felony convictions.
“no” vote opposes the amendment, thereby maintaining that a person convicted of a non-violent felony can receive greater (enhanced) sentences based on past felony convictions. 

Those supporting SQ 805 include the ACLU of Oklahoma and Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform. They argue that our high incarceration rate is fueled in large part by harsh, extreme sentences that punish Oklahomans for previous mistakes. Another supporter of SQ 805 is the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. They have posted on their website several informative articles about this state question which I suggest you peruse.

https://www.ocpathink.org/search?q=state+question+805

Opponents of SQ 805 include Governor Kevin Stitt, Oklahoma district attorneys, Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, and Help in Crisis. Governor Stitt argued, “Trying to put this into our state’s constitution, it peels back enhancements for DUIs, human trafficking, domestic violence — some of the things I don’t think we need to put into our constitution.” Former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating stated: “This constitutional amendment is the ultimate gift to the career criminal and the insect crime wave of the lifetime repeat offender. … A person’s selfish and destructive long life of crime will be handled as one first offense after another. The fifteenth offense is the first offense as far as punishment goes.” Keating recently resigned from the board of OCPA, in part over his difference of opinion regarding SQ 805.It is important to note that the measure would not apply to those who have ever been convicted of a violent felony. The measure defines violent felony as any felony offense listed in Oklahoma Statutes Title 57 Section 571, which is available here. Such offenses include assault, battery, murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, human trafficking, burglary, robbery, child abuse, rape, rioting, arson, terrorism, and more.

Where I stand.

If you have ever read any of my musings over past state questions then you know that I do not like amending our Constitution to insert details that should be handled by our legislature.  This is another case in point. Simply for this one reason, I should be voting No on SQ 805.

However, now that I have studied the issue, if I were a legislator, I would have been pushing reform in exactly this area.  It would have been high on my list of priorities for three reasons – (1) as a society we must find the right balance between punishment and prevention/restoration, both in terms of the sentencing discretion we give our district attorneys and the courts, but also the amount of money we allocate to prevention of crime and restoration from criminal conviction; (2) as the OCPA study suggests this proposal would save money in the penal system and hopefully if we get #1 right it will save more money in less repeat occurrences; and (3) it is moral to forgive past offenses duly paid for rather than using past offenses as an excuse to tack on more time for current crimes. It is important to remember that district attorneys/judges already have discretion to “enhance” a sentence via their authority to use the range of sentences prescribed by law for each crime rather than just imposing the maximum sentence from the get-go. Thus, I am in favor of the purpose of SQ 805, and I can make a good argument to vote Yes on SQ 805

Which way will I vote? Bottom line, this is a complex issue for which I doubt there is one right answer.  I have to say right up front – I do not agree with the arguments made by the district attorney association. We elect legislators to resolve issues like this – to study an issue, to debate it and then to act. It is wrong that they have not already acted in this area of the law. But two wrongs do not make a right, and I definitely do not believe that details like SQ 805 should be enshrined in our state Constitution.  Therefore, I will vote NO on SQ 805, and I will encourage my legislators to improve our incarceration sentencing guidelines. 

* There are a lot more facts about this issue than I have included in the above discussion. (You can find some of those facts in the OCPA blogs). The related issues of prevention and restoration are deeply complex.  They involve, for instance, related issues like education. What are we teaching in school about law and order, about crime, about moral law, about civics, about American History, etc. We cannot expect to have a moral society if we teach immoral ideas in our schools. There is no quick fix for this issue – no state question that will resolve the incarceration problems we face as a society.  And I do not believe the answer is just to throw up our arms and say “I give up.” We must continue to elect moral, hardworking, intelligent legislators to work through these issues and move us forward as a society, and that means moving us closer to God. And we must support them, encourage them, provide them with information and ideas, and confront them when we honestly disagree. Romans 13 requires believers to submit to the civil magistrate; but we must remember that in America “We the people” are, in essence, the civil magistrate.  We cannot simply argue Romans 13 requires us to do nothing but submit to unjust laws.  We must work for justice as defined by God, not by man.

STATE QUESTION 814 – Fund Medicaid Program with Tobacco Settlement Endowment – VOTE YES

This change to the Oklahoma Constitution came from the Legislature. Ballotpedia states:

“yes” vote supports decreasing the percentage of money (from 75% to 25%) that is deposited to the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) Fund from funds the state receives from tobacco settlements and directing the state legislature to appropriate funds to secure federal matching funds for the state’s Medicaid program.
“no” vote opposes decreasing appropriations made to the state’s Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) Fund, thereby maintaining that 75% of the money the state receives from tobacco settlements will be deposited into the TSET Fund.

As of 2020, the average annual payment received by Oklahoma under the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement was around $75 million, of which, about $56.25 million was deposited into the TSET fund. Under State Question 814, the amount deposited into the TSET fund would be $18.75 million. The remaining $56.25 million would be deposited into the Tobacco Settlement Fund. Of that amount, 8.33% ($4.68 million) would be directed to the Attorney General’s office and the remaining 91.67% ($51.57 million) would be used to secure federal matching funds for the Medicaid program.

TSET is a wealthy endowment (~ $1.3 billion) which has been continually growing.  It will not be hurt by approval of SQ 814.

I will be voting YES for SQ 814.

=====

Above is the email received from Gary Kilpatrick on 9/29/20. I am in general agreement with this analysis and my special thanks to Gary for doing the research on this one!

Summary:

President/Vice President – Donald Trump and Mike Pence

Corporation Commissioner – Todd Hiett

Senator – Jim Inhoff

Representative – Kevin Hern

State Representative – Wendi Stearman

Oklahoma Supreme Court:

District 1 – Matthew John Kane, IV – VOTE YES 

District 6 – Tom Colbert – VOTE NO 

District 9 – Richard B. Darby – VOTE NO

Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals:

District 2 – Robert L. Hudson – VOTE YES

District 3 – Gary L. Lumpkin – VOTE YES

Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals:

District 1 – Office 2 – Jane P. Wiseman – VOTE NO!!

District 2 – Office 1 – Deborah B. Barnes – VOTE NO!!

District 2 – Office 2 – Keith Rapp – VOTE NO

State Questions:

STATE QUESTION 805 – Criminal History in Sentencing – VOTE NO

STATE QUESTION 814 – Fund Medicaid Program with Tobacco Settlement Endowment – VOTE YES

Sandra Crosnoe for Finding Gems & Sharing Them

Some additional links that may be of interest:

https://www.muskogeepolitico.com/2014/10/tulsa-beacon-dont-retain-judge-jane.html – some thoughts on Wiseman from a previous election cycle

https://www.ocpathink.org/search?q=state+question+805 OCPA on SQ805

https://ballotpedia.org/Oklahoma_State_Question_805,Criminal_History_in_Sentencing_and_Sentence_Modification_Initiative(2020) quote on SQ805

https://ballotpedia.org/Oklahoma_State_Question_814,Decrease_Tobacco_Settlement_Endowment_Trust_Fund_Deposits_and_Fund_Medicaid_Program_Amendment(2020) quote on SQ814

https://r3publican.wordpress.com/2020/09/23/what-has-he-done/ a list of Trump accomplishments

Kevin Buchanan (District Attorney in Washington County) KWON interview on SQ805

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: