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State of Oklahoma

Judicial Selection in the States: Oklahoma

Overview

News

Georgia has one of the most complex trial court systems in the nation, with at least 6 distinct trial courts (Superior, Probate, State, Magistrate, Municipal,...

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A hearing was held earlier this week on a series of bills filed to address diversity in the Rhode Island judiciary. Video of the hearing...

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The ongoing efforts by members of the Rhode Island House to diversify the bench continues. HB 7908 as filed would require the state s Judicial...

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Courtesy of the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of...

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Oklahoma is one of only two states that has two courts of last resort--the supreme court has jurisdiction over appeals of all civil matters, and the court of criminal appeals hears all criminal appeals. The court of civil appeals is an intermediate appellate court, and the district court is the trial court of general jurisdiction. Oklahoma has a bifurcated system of judicial selection. Appellate court judges are chosen through merit selection, and trial court judges are chosen in nonpartisan elections.

Oklahoma judges were originally chosen in partisan elections. The impetus for change came in the mid-1960s, when one Oklahoma supreme court justice was convicted on bribery charges and another was impeached and removed from office. A third justice was already serving time in federal prison for income tax evasion. Described by one journalist as "one of the blackest marks ever on state government," these events led to two constitutional amendments aimed at insulating judicial selection from direct partisan politics. Elections for district court judges were changed from partisan to nonpartisan contests, and merit selection was adopted for appellate court judges and to fill interim vacancies on the district court.