NORMAN — District Judge Tom Lucas will close the door on his small office tucked behind a courtroom in the Cleveland County Courthouse Building for the last time on July 31.
Stepping aside from the judgeship will come in his 50th year of practicing law and presiding over court, but it won't be the end of his law career. Although a recent stroke has slowed his speech and his walk, he says “I can still think and I would like to have a few more important defense cases.”
Lucas has served as a District 21 judge for the past 20 years. He has heard hundreds of civil and criminal trials, some drawing big headlines. Each has received his full attention as he fulfilled his duty assigned to him by the voters in five elections. “I don't think of it as 'my office' or 'my courtroom.' It is where I have been assigned to serve the public,” the 79-year-old says.
Lucas was born in a teacherage (housing provided by the school for its teachers) in St. Louis in Pottawatomie County where his parents both taught. The family lived in several
communities in Oklahoma as they followed the father's high school teaching/coaching career. A football player, Lucas attended Northeastern Junior College and the team made it to the Junior Rose Bowl in Los Angeles. They lost the national junior college championship to Bakersfield. “They beat us 7 to 6.”
He got a degree in political science from Oklahoma A&M. It was during that time that he met Norman attorney Preston Trimble. “He was in the OU Air Force ROTC at OU and I was in the Air Force ROTC at Stillwater.”
After graduation with a degree in political science came a five-year stint in the Air Force. His eyes were set on law school. “The application to the OU Law School called for a signature by a lawyer. Preston was the only lawyer I knew, so he signed the form for me.”