NORMAN — Ten attorneys are vying for the district judge seat being vacated by longtime Cleveland County Judge Tom Lucas, records show.
Lucas, 79, announced earlier this year that he will retire from the post Aug. 1. Judicial District 21 includes Cleveland, McClain and Garvin counties.
Originally, 13 people applied for the judgeship. The list was narrowed to 10 by the Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission, whose 15 members will interview all applicants and submit three names to Gov. Mary Fallin, who will make the final selection.
Currently, the 10 candidates are undergoing security checks conducted by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
These checks are expected to be completed in late July, and names of the three nominees will be determined the same day that interviews are conducted.
The 10 finalists listed in alphabetical order are:
· Thad Balkman, a former state legislator for six years in the House, who has been in private practice since 2006. Balkman, 41, said he wants to carry on Lucas’ work by expanding drug courts statewide.
“I am a firm believer in helping people with substance abuse and mental illness problems,” Balkman said.
· David Batton, 61, a former longtime Cleveland County assistant district attorney who left the post in June 2012 and entered private practice. Batton was with the district attorney’s office for about nine years. The first half, he did mostly criminal law, and the last half civil law.
“I’m fairly neutral, based on my years of experience and background,” Batton said.
· Jeff Bryant, serving as city attorney for the city of Norman, a position he has had for about seven years. Bryant, 51, served earlier as an assistant city attorney.
“That was primarily a litigation position where I represented the city in state and federal courts,” Bryant said.
· Cheryl Clayton has been an attorney practicing primarily in Cleveland County for the past 35 years. Clayton, 61, has been a leader recently of a group of Norman residents opposed to some high-density zoning north of the Campus Corner area.