NORMAN — Attorney and former legislator Thad Balkman, of Norman, was named Thursday by Gov. Mary Fallin to serve as a district judge for Cleveland County.
Balkman will finish out the term of District Judge Tom Lucas, who retired Aug. 1 at 79, with a little more than a year left in his term.
Balkman said he intends to run for a full four-year term in fall 2014.
"I obviously will be on a learning curve in getting to know how to apply the law as a judge," said Balkman, 41.
Serving as a lawmaker, consultant and lobbyist, Balkman said he thinks that experience will help him evaluate facts in a case like he did with a myriad of bills at the state Capitol.
Besides Balkman, other finalists were Steve Stice, a special judge for Cleveland County, and Blaine Nice, former longtime municipal attorney for the city of Norman who is now in private practice.
Thirteen attorneys originally filed for the judicial post. The Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission interviewed the top nine candidates and narrowed the search to three.
The commission forwarded the names to the governor, who made the final selection this week.
Cleveland County Chief District Judge Tracy Schumacher said Thursday that all the judges at the courthouse “are excited to have Thad join us.”
“He has already been to the courthouse to see us,” she said. “Thad is ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work.”
All three finalists were qualified for different reasons, she said.
Schumacher said Cleveland County needs the relief due to heavy judicial caseloads.
“On Wednesday, I had 122 criminal defendants on my docket,” she said.
From 2000 to 2006, Balkman served as a Republican in the state House of Representatives.
He was defeated in 2006 by Democrat Wallace Collins.
“Wallace beat me once, but I beat him two other times,” Balkman said.