ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
65°
Clear
H 77° L 49°
  • cloudy-day
    65°
    Current Conditions
    Clear. H 77° L 49°
  • clear-night
    50°
    Morning
    Clear. H 77° L 49°
  • cloudy-day
    63°
    Afternoon
    Partly Cloudy. H 66° L 37°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Krmg news on demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Krmg traffic on demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Krmg weather on demand

00:00 | 00:00

Local
Bribery scandal haunts Oklahoma courts still
Close

Bribery scandal haunts Oklahoma courts still

Bribery scandal haunts Oklahoma courts still
Photo Credit: Camie Hayes

Bribery scandal haunts Oklahoma courts still

A bribery scandal that reached to the Oklahoma Supreme Court 50 years ago is still having consequences today. 

Earlier this year the Oklahoma Supreme Court overturn the 2009 Lawsuit Reform Act, causing the Oklahoma Legislature to call for a special session.

Discussions have been going on for quite some time about changing how Oklahoma appoints its judges.

Late last week a discussion on that issue was hosted by the Federalist Society at the Mayo Hotel.

Up until 1969, all judges in Oklahoma had to run for elected office.

That all changed when three Oklahoma Supreme Court judges were embroiled in a bribery scandal that put Oklahoma in the national spotlight in the mid-1960’s.

“Justice for Sale,” by Oklahoma Supreme Court Judge William Berry is the story of that scandal.

After the judges involved were convicted or resigned because of the scandal, the Oklahoma legislature changed how judges for the state’s appellate courts and supreme court were chosen.

Currently, county judges still are elected by the public.

Judges for the higher courts go through a judicial nominating commission that screens applicants and then recommends the three best nominees to the Governor. 

The Governor then picks someone out of the three nominees to fill an open position in the state’s higher courts.

During the program, University of Pittsburg Professor Chris Bonneau, Vanderbilt University professor Brian Fitzpatrick and prominent Tulsa attorney John Tucker discussed the aspects of various ways to select judges.

Professor Bonneau thinks that all judges should be elected by the public, as current systems that use nominating commissions do not represent the public’s viewpoint.

 Professor Fitzpatrick generally believes that state judges should use the Federal method of appointing judges, primarily because it was the way that all judges were picked when the country founded.

John Tucker, the current head of the Judicial Nominating Commission, explained how the commission is made up of 15 people, nine non-attorneys and six attorneys.

Since Oklahoma has converted to a nominating commission, there have been 307 judges appointed, and only one has had to be removed from office because of mental health issues.

Mr. Tucker also told the story of how he tried a case in Muskogee several years ago before a judge who was influenced by campaign contributions. 

Mr. Tucker represented the defendant.

The other side was represented by the judge’s largest campaign contributor and the judge’s law office partner.

When the verdict was handed down, the campaign contributor and the law partner’s side won.

Years later, the bailiff in that case personally told Mr. Tucker that even the jury had been hand-picked so that the judge’s campaign contributor would win.

With the Oklahoma legislature and the Oklahoma State Chamber of Oklahoma supporting judicial reform, this issue is not going to go away soon.

After the presentations, KRMG posed a question to all three panelists regarding how the public can be better educated on judicial nomination and retention.

Professor Bonneau says that having general elections educates the public about how a judge will rule and what is important to the judge, even with negative campaign ads.

Professor Fitzpatrick declined to answer the question.

Mr. Tucker believes that since civics have been cut by public schools, that the public does not know enough about how electing judges is a different type of situation than electing state representatives.

Elections in 2014 include judicial retention elections.

For information on judges up for retention, visit www.courtfacts.org.

Federalist Society events are open to the public to attend.

Read More
VIEW COMMENTS

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

  • A naked couple, having sex in their car while their baby was in the back seat, crashed while driving, the said. >> Read more trending newsThe man was driving on Highway 7 near La Grande in Pierce County, naked and having sex with a woman who also was naked, when he missed a curve, went off the road and struck a tree, State Patrol spokeswoman Brooke Bova said. The crash occurred Wednesday at 6 p.m. troopers said. Witnesses told troopers both the man and woman were naked when they got out of the car, The Everett Herald reported. Troopers said they were also both impaired. The woman wasn't wearing a seat belt. She was taken to the hospital with several broken bones. The 3-month-old child in the back seat was not injured. The man was arrested and booked into Pierce County Jail on suspicion of driving under the influence, vehicular assault and child endangerment, the Herald reported. Troopers said the man has three prior DUI convictions.
  • A high school English teacher has been arrested after she was secretly filmed by her students while appearing to cut up and snort what police suspect to be cocaine in an empty classroom, . >> Read more trending news Samantha Cox, 24, was taken away from Lake Central High School in St. John, Indiana, in handcuffs after students showed the video to their principal, who informed the authorities. Junior Will Rogers captured the footage, which appeared to show Cox cutting up a white, powdery substance on a binder, then turning her back to the door and leaning over. Rogers had recorded the video through a locked classroom door at around 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 22. “She’s in the corner, hiding with a chair and a book and what appears to be cocaine, putting it into lines,” he said. “I actually watched the footage again and again, and I just realized that my English teacher just did cocaine,” Rogers told WGN. The video, posted to YouTube, quickly spread around the campus. When Cox’s fellow staff members discovered it, they notified St. John police. Cox, 24, was arrested on charges possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia, according to a St. John Police Department statement. The drugs involved appear to be a mix of cocaine and heroin, Police Chief James Kveton told The Northwest Indiana Times. “School officials and police want to recognize and praise the student witness that brought this information to the principal very quickly,” the police statement read. “Their actions showed a tremendous amount of fortitude and integrity.” Parents were informed of the arrest via a robocall from Lake Central Superintendent Larry Veracco. “Earlier today, Lake Central administration was made aware of a situation regarding a teacher at Lake Central High School. Swift and forceful action was taken,” Veracco said in the robocall. “I’m grateful that they found out when they did, and they were quick-acting,” parent Shannon McGrath told WGN. “You’re told as a child to listen to them, respect them and stuff like that … But it’s kinda hard to respect somebody who does cocaine in a classroom,” junior Anthony Rios told the station.
  • A top Republican Oklahoma House leader is back to the drawing board trying to shore up the state's budget and generate funding for a teacher pay raise. Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols said Friday work already is underway on potential changes to a broad tax-increase plan. Echols says he's remaining in touch with the governor's office and that he's working on potential 'tweaks' to the plan that could garner the necessary 76 votes in the House.  A sweeping package of tax hikes on tobacco, fuel, alcohol and oil and gas production fell five votes short in the House after an eight-week special session. Governor Mary Fallin vetoed a backup budget plan approved by lawmakers that would have further slashed agency budgets and implored them to return for a second special session.  No date has been set.
  • Lindsay Weiss once lost her cellphone and got it back, so she and a friend knew what they had to do when they discovered a camera under a pew during a festival in the Nevada desert - even though it meant giving up their coveted, shady seat for a musical performance. The friends snapped a quick selfie and took the device to the lost-and-found, so the owner could claim it and the pair could “forever be a part of their journey,” Weiss said. “Losing something out there on the playa makes its mark on your trip,” she said of the sprawling counterculture gathering known as Burning Man. “Kinda makes you feel like a loser.” Cameras and IDs are among the more common belongings that end up in the lost-and-found after the event billed as North America’s largest outdoor arts festival. Other items left behind in the dusty, 5-square-mile encampment include shoes, keys, stuffed animals - even dentures. Still missing are a marching band hat with gold mirror tiles, a furry cheetah vest, a headdress with horns and a chainmail loincloth skirt. “As of mid-November, we’ve recovered 2,479 items and returned 1,279,” said Terry Schoop, who helps oversee the recovery operation at Burning Man’s San Francisco headquarters.
  • An 86-year-old Philadelphia woman allegedly pushed her walker into a bank Tuesday afternoon and . >> Read more trending news Bank employees told police the woman, identified as Emily Coakley, brandished a gun and demanded $400, CBS Philly reported. It didn’t take long for the police to arrive, and they arrested the senior citizen. Authorities say the woman had a .38-caliber revolver. They said the gun was not loaded, but, she did have bullets in her purse, according to The Morning Call. University of Pennsylvania police responded to a robbery call at the TD Bank at 3735 Walnut St. around 2 p.m. Tuesday. Coakley has been charged with aggravated assault, robbery and other related offenses. According to witnesses, Coakley had visited the bank the day earlier and was under the impression she had been shorted $400 from her withdrawal that was the specific total she demanded from the teller. Her family later arrived and tried to defuse the situation. Despite this, people near the bank weren’t happy. “Someone could have got shot, even accidentally. You have to have concerns. People bring their kids here,” customer Will Duggan told Fox 29 in Philadelphia. The Morning Call said she did not offer comment as police escorted her from the bank.