The Norman Transcript

Crime/Courts

May 10, 2012

Legislative holdout stymies addition of district judge

OKLAHOMA CITY — Several lawmakers are supporting a bill in the state Legislature that would add a badly needed district judge post to Cleveland County.

 But it appears that one senator’s political maneuvering could result in the legislation dying somewhere along the way.

Lawmakers say that Sen. Anthony Sykes would support a bill adding another district judge only if that person was required to live in the northern part of the county, home to Sykes’ Senate district.

Rep. Aaron Stiles, R-Norman, said, “Politics is getting in the way of an opportunity for Cleveland County to get another judge at no additional cost to taxpayers.” 

State funds already allocated to a vacant Seminole County slot would be transferred to Cleveland County.

 “Just one person is holding up the train,” said Stiles, referring to Senator Sykes.

 Sykes, R-Moore, could not be reached for comment despite several attempts this past week. The senator, an attorney who chairs the Senate judiciary committee, is a member of Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman’s leadership team, serving as an assistant floor leader. Bingman’s aide Nathan Atkins said that the “pro tem has nothing to say” about this issue.

However, Sen. Bryce Marlatt, primary Senate author of House Bill 2440, said he would answer questions concerning the measure.

This development occurred after Marlatt had been summoned to the pro tem’s office.

Marlatt, R-Woodward, said Tuesday that he supports the version of the bill that came out of the Senate in late April.

That was when Sykes’ political maneuvering had resulted in the full Senate vote approving the bill — minus any language that would authorize a judgeship to move from Seminole to Cleveland County.

 Meanwhile, Sykes won approval in a Senate committee to transform the original two-page bill to 377 pages, but dealing with a different issue.

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