NORMAN — Cleveland County judges have been asking for some bench relief for about four decades. A former district judge, writing in a Transcript guest column this month, said he began asking for at least one, and maybe two more, district judges as far back as 1974.
It looks like it may happen during the next election cycle. Our legislative delegation has been trying to get a judicial spot moved out of another county into Cleveland County for at least three legislative sessions. An agreement to move a judicial post from a smaller county was reached this week.
The county has grown exponentially during the 40-year time period. Our population in 1974 was about 106,000 compared to more than 265,000 today. The court is more efficient today and has more special judges than it did in 1974. That kind of population growth requires more bench time with district judges.
In a prepared statement, State Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, said he wanted the judge to be elected, rather than appointed by the governor. Mr. Sykes chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. For appointments, voters get to rule on the new judge during the next election cycle.
We’re encouraged that our local legislators were able to reach a compromise on the judicial post. Now, it’s up to county officials to make space in the county office building. With this summer’s retirement of District Judge Tom Lucas, Cleveland County will have two new judges within the next two years.