The Norman Transcript

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May 23, 2012

County won’t get district judge post

OKLAHOMA CITY — Cleveland County won’t be getting another district court judge, at least during this legislative session, Rep. Aaron Stiles said Tuesday.

“The bill is dead,” said Stiles, R-Norman.

Stiles said he has learned that House leadership will not support a Senate version of the bill that would require a judicial candidate to live in northern Cleveland County.

Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, has insisted that provision be included in legislation. However, House leaders say this would set a bad precedent, with senators having too much influence in selecting district judges throughout the state.

Currently, only Tulsa and Oklahoma counties select judges from sections carved out of those two counties, to reflect the minorities who live there.

Last fall, Gov. Mary Fallin did not fill a district judge vacancy in Seminole County, anticipating that the legislature would move that judge slot to Cleveland County.

Stiles said he believes the judge slot could remain vacant and possibly be authorized next session.

“The bill was right there for the taking,” Stiles said, “but politics and personalities at the capitol got involved.”

Supreme Court Chief Justice Steven Taylor and Courts Administrator Mike Evans had encouraged the legislature to move the slot from Seminole County to Cleveland County, where caseloads are much higher.

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