The Norman Transcript

May 9, 2013

Cleveland County needs district judges

By Mike McDanel
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Politics makes strange bedfellows. Rep. Bobby Cleveland and I have had our disagreements, and likely neither wishes to share a bed with the other.

Perhaps we’ve forgiven but not forgotten, but on the issue of an additional district judgeship for Cleveland County rising up from last year’s terminal illness, Mr. Cleveland and all but one Cleveland County legislator I know of are spot on.

From the time I became a judge in 1974 until I left the bench in 1991, I wrote, begged, pleaded and prayed for at least one more, if not two, new district judges.  The statistics, population, caseload and productivity figures all clearly supported such addition or additions.

For reasons I’ve never fully understood, our county continued throughout, and continues today, to deserve one or two additional district judges.

The Transcript’s front page April 28 article sets out the issues, problems, current stats and positions well — except, no one claims to have a clue what Sen. Anthony Sykes is thinking, if at all.

Few people benefit from having a judiciary as overworked as the Cleveland County bench.

Generally speaking, those are folks who have no desire to go to court, or to have a controversy resolved, people or parties in civil matters who are going to lose and have to pay off when the matter is finally resolved, like — for instance — insurance companies and accused criminals. 

For all the hoopla about an accused’s right to a speedy trial, a speedy trial is the last thing a person headed for jail or prison desires. Delay is the criminal’s friend.

Which of these constituencies is tugging on Sen. Sykes’ coattails, I don’t know. Maybe he just doesn’t like judges. Maybe he’s just holding out for something else he wants and doesn’t care if his constituents suffer. Maybe he doesn’t like Bobby Cleveland. As I say, I don’t have a clue and perhaps he has none either.

I sent more than 70 emails and letters to attorneys and lawmakers in April of last year, including copies of stats and a copy of a letter I last wrote in 1990 to then Sen. Cal Hobson. Still waiting 23 years later for our bench to be involved in something other than catch-up ...

Retired attorney and judge Mike McDanel lives in Norman.