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April 3, 2012

County may get another judge

OKLAHOMA CITY — A state Senate committee is expected to consider legislation today that calls for taking a vacant district judge slot from Seminole County and moving it to Cleveland County.

House Bill 2440, which requests adding a judge, was listed until Monday on the agenda for consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee. It is scheduled to be heard when the judiciary committee meets at 9:30 a.m. today at the state Capitol.

Consideration of the bill in the Senate has been on-again, off-again and moved back and forth in committees, apparently due to disagreements among lawmakers who wanted their names tied to this legislation.

HB 2440 passed the House handily 64-23 in early March.

Rep. Aaron Stiles, who presented the bill on the House floor, said Monday that the legislation is badly needed because Cleveland County has a heavy judicial workload that continues to grow.

If a bill is not considered, “it is a statement that you do not really care about prisoners being tried,” Stiles said.

The district court could be in trouble “if prisoners do not get speedy trials,” he said. This also causes problems for the business community.

John Woods, president and chief executive officer for the Norman chamber, said if civil cases are not handled in a timely fashion, it costs more money for Norman businesses.

Woods said if a civil case is handled in one month rather than two, it is a cost savings.

“From a business perspective, if there are bounced check cases or liability cases being delayed, it costs everybody,” Woods said.

Woods said that moving a judge post from Seminole County to Cleveland County would not cost extra money because there already is a judge slot that has been funded through the state.

Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, is chair of the judiciary committee. He was not available for comment Monday.

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