For several days now I have been wanting to do a post on judicial retention in Oklahoma. Sadly, I was never able to find the information that I wanted to do a post I would have been satisfied with. It is election eve and many of you have already voted in early voting. I apologize for that, but this is all that I have found. My summary version on how I plan to vote is that at the moment of writing this Hudson is the only one I plan to vote to retain. My general philosophy is “When in doubt, vote them out.” Hudson was the only one I could find any philosophical reasons to support him. OCPAC article said,
“He was recently appointed by Gov. Fallin to the Criminal Court of Appeals. Hudson appears to be a serious Christian, and everyone consulted gave him very high marks.”
You can often tell a little about the judicial slots by who appointed them and that tells you a little about the current problems we face (that information on appointments is documented in the Sooner Politics article referenced below.
The best article I found was published by OCPAC. The section on judges is reprinted here:
OCPAC recommendations on judicial retention
SECTION 3 – JUDGING JUSTICES & JUDGES
Oklahoma Supreme Court Justices: Vote NO on Justices James Winchester and Donald Combs. They are not just. Overall, our State Supreme Court is progressive and activist. It sometimes disregards our state constitution, and its opinions are inconsistent. These two justices voted incorrectly on five out of six key votes, yielding a score of only 16.5%.
In the last few years, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has banned the Ten Commandments (Prescott v. Okla. Capitol Preservation Committee, 2015 OK 54), protected child rapists (Burns v. Cline, 2016 OK 99), protected abortionists (Burns v. Cline, 2014 OK 90), and protected sex offenders (Hendricks v. Jones ex rel. State ex rel. Okla. Dept. of Corr., 2013 OK 71). Download this Judging Justices Flyer and give a copy to everybody at church.
Charlie Meadows provides the following recommendations on appellate judges based on his off the record discussions with attorneys, prosecutors, and lower court judges.
Judge Clancy Smith (State Court of Criminal Appeals): Vote NO – Sources tell us that this Brad Henry appointee is very smart, but ideologically progressive to her core and way too nit-picky with jury decisions.
Judge Robert Hudson (State Court of Criminal Appeals): Vote YES – Hudson is fairly new on the court. He was appointed Payne county District Attorney by Frank Keating, replacing a corrupt DA. Eventually he became chief of staff for Scott Pruitt. He was recently appointed by Gov. Fallin to the Criminal Court of Appeals. Hudson appears to be a serious Christian, and everyone consulted gave him very high marks.
Judge Thomas Thornbrugh (State Court of Civil Appeals): YOUR CHOICE – The Court of Civil Appeals is the most difficult to evaluate because they do not settle many high profile cases. Thornbrugh was the only judge on the court with whom some sources were not fully satisfied.
Judge John Fischer (State Court of Civil Appeals): Vote YES.
Judge Larry Joplin (State Court of Civil Appeals): Vote YES.
Charlie Meadows did a flyer on a couple of the slots which has been circulated statewide:
Graphic memes from a friend on facebook.
In another article by Sooner Politics, David Van Risseghem reported this (summarized below / complete article here:
Seven judges are seeking another term on our statewide oversight courts. A couple of them are worth keeping. Far more are needing to go. Perhaps the finest judge is retiring.
Steven Taylor has shown a strong and independent library of case opinions. He has sometimes dissented alone. Even then he has boldly declared his clear intellect and respect for the state’s constitutional language.
The editorial review being published here, is a work subject to further consideration. Comments are especially welcome. But we have gathered enough data to begin the discussion and tip our hand as to which judges we do and do not support for a whole new term.
Oklahoma Supreme Court
As we mentioned above, Steven Taylor is retiring and we call upon the appointed committees to find a set of candidates worthy to sit in his seat.
We did not use the Ten Commandments ruling in this review. It is our opinion that the constitution is clearly flawed in the so-called “Blaine Amendment” section. The justices were duty-bound to maintain a strict-constructionist ruling on this case. The correct remedy is to change the constitution (which we are doing with state question 790). A failure to pass this reform could result in the Oklahoma National Guard to go without chaplain care during deployment in war.
For Retention: None
Against Retention: Winchester & Combs
James Winchester has consistently disappointing the legislature and been a foot dragging the process of reforming Oklahoma law. His continued selective use of the “One subject” argument is unacceptable. Winchester also ignored the plain language of the constitution 2 years ago when he voted to allow a legislator to run for District Attorney, even though the language of the constitution barred him from being elected until after his legislative term had expired. (Justice Taylor scolded the majority for this ruling)
Douglas Combs is a clear case of ‘lame duck’ abuse of power. Three days after Republican, Mary Fallin defeated Jeri Askin to succeed Brad Henry as Oklahoma Governor; Henry decided his fellow Shawnee Democrat should get this last-minute appointment. Henry has stacked the high court more successfully than any other governor since 1908. Five of the 9 justices are Brad Henry’s appointees. If Combs wants to continues serving he should be removed by the voters and then seek a new appointment untainted by lame duck shenanigans.
Court of Criminal Appeals
For Retention: Hudson
Against Retention: Smith
Court of Civil Appeals
This court reviews all civil suits and has the power to adjust or reverse the decisions of lower courts. The Oklahoma Chamber and other large corporate interests have greatly stepped up their interest in this court. One pro-business group of the Oklahoma Chamber, Oklahoma Civil Justice Council; hasreviewed the decisions of the judges and scored their “pro business” dispositions. While there have been abuses of the courts for ridiculous judgments based upon frivolous “damages”, There have also been scores of folks who are further damaged by a legal system stacked against the people of limited means or other severe impediments.
For Retention: Thomas Thornbrugh
Thornbrugh scored a moderate rating with a slight edge away from the pro-business group’s preference. He is the brother of a former Tulsa legislator and from a historically active Republican family. His previous district court legacy is also a stellar one.
Against Retention: Larry Joplin
Joplin has been rated a vastly pro big business. His extreme legacy is worth a recall. His appointment was also a lame duck abuse by David Walters. Joplin had been a political appointee in the Walters administration and the court appointment was just another of Walters legacy of burdening the Keating administration with an inability to exercise the full duties of the governor’s office.
Not decided: John Fischer
Please vote prayerfully!