Oklahoma Bill Would Sweep Out Majority of Top Judges

A flurry of proposals to reform judicial selection, impose judicial term limits, and change retirement requirements has marked political debate in Oklahoma recently (see Gavel Grab). Now a prominent legislator has introduced legislation that would  clear the top appellate courts of numerous sitting judges.

Republican state Sen. Anthony W. Sykes, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has pre-filed a bill that “would provide a maximum age qualification: a judge must retire when the sum of their age + years of service as a judge = 80,” according to Gavel to Gavel, a publication of the National Center for State Courts. The article continues to predict what could happen if the bill became law:

“Based on the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s biographies of the serving justices and the corresponding webpages for the Judges of the Court of Criminal Appeals almost all of the Supreme Court members and perhaps a majority of the Court of Criminal Appeals would be forced out of office.”

In September, former Oklahoma Bar Association President Cathy Christensen wrote the following (see Gavel Grab) about an array of suggestions for change in the upcoming legislative session:

“The motivation is the potential power to control and manipulate the judiciary. The possible outcome is obvious: a return to corruption and scandal to the detriment of the judicial system and the right to fair and impartial justice.” 

The National Center for State Courts is a JAS partner organization.

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