The Norman Transcript

November 1, 2013

Leave well enough alone

The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Oklahoma has had its share of political scandals. Child welfare. County commissioners. Prisons. Judges. Yes, our state Supreme Court had a shameful, bribery scandal in the 1960s.

Legislators, some of whom are not happy with legal decisions, want to make changes in the way judges are appointed. A hearing sponsored by the House Speaker was hosted Thursday. The state’s bar association has opposed the initiative on the basis that it puts politics back into the selection of judges.

The current system, set up in 1967 when our courts were reformed, seems to be working. It took an amendment to the state Constitution to form the Judicial Nominating Commission.

The 15 members are chosen. Six are attorneys elected by the Oklahoma Bar Association, the governor picks six non-lawyer members and three non-lawyer members are selected by the Senate speaker pro-tem, the speaker of the House and one by the JNC.

No political party can dominate. The selection process takes in all areas of the state and is meant to be impartial.

Some lawmakers want to put term limits on state judge positions. Those are on retention ballots, and voters can certainly remove a judge who is on the ballot.