Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals

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Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals
Court information
Justices:   5
Founded:   1907
Chief:  $147k (Supreme); $142k (Criminal Appeals Presiding)
Associates:  $138,000
Judicial selection
Method:   Assisted appointment
Term:   6 years
Active justices

Gary Lumpkin  •  Arlene Johnson  •  David B. Lewis  •  Carlene Clancy Smith  •  Rob Hudson  •  

Seal of Oklahoma.png

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals is one of two courts of last resort in Oklahoma. The state is one of two with multiple supreme courts. The Oklahoma Supreme Court, which is considered the first among equals of the two, determines all issues of a civil nature, and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals decides all criminal matters. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals meets in the Oklahoma Capitol Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.[1]


The state supreme court consists of a presiding judge, a vice-presiding judge, and three associate judges of the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, who are nominated by the Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission and are appointed by the governor. After their first term, judges must file for direct election from the people of Oklahoma to retain their position.

Unlike the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the Oklahoma Constitution does not specify the size of the Court of Criminal Appeals. This grants the Oklahoma State Legislature the power to fix the number of judges by statute.[1]

The current justices of the court are:
JudgeTermSelected by
Vice-presiding Judge Gary Lumpkin1989-2021Gov. Henry Bellmon
Associate judge Arlene Johnson2005-2018Gov. Brad Henry
Associate judge David B. Lewis2005-2018Gov. Brad Henry
Associate justice Carlene Clancy Smith2010-2018Chief Justice James Edmondson
Associate judge Rob Hudson2015-2016Gov. Mary Fallin

Judicial selection

The potential candidates submit their names to the Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC). In the case of a vacancy, the JNC submits three names to the Governor. If the Governor does not appoint a judge within 60 days, the chief justice then takes the responsibility. All appointments must be certified by the secretary of state for Oklahoma. The judge serves for six-year terms.[2]


A qualified candidate for the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals must be no younger than 30 years of age, must be a registered voter in the district the represent for at least one year before accepting the position, must be a licensed and practicing attorney or judge for at least five years prior to the appointment, and while in office, must maintain certification as an attorney or judge.[1][2]

Presiding judge

Gary L. Lumpkin is the presiding judge of the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. He was first appointed to the bench November 15, 1988, by Republican Governor Henry Bellmon. Judge Lumpkin retained his seat by the voters of Oklahoma during the general election of 2008 on November 4th.[3]


The Court of Criminal Appeals hears cases involving the death sentence, and all cases involving criminal matters coming from the district courts and the municipal courts of record. In the event of a dispute involving whether the jurisdiction of a case goes to the Oklahoma Supreme Court or the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, the supreme court hears the case. The jurisdiction of the court comes from the state constitution, which was adopted on September 17, 1907.[4]


The court sifts through approximately 1,450-1,800 cases every year.[5]


The Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City, which houses the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals

In the First Legislature, from 1907 through 1908, the Criminal Court of Appeals was created and given "exclusive appellate jurisdiction." The House Bill 397 stated that if the constitution is questioned in a criminal case, the court would turn the case to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Appointments were determined by the governor, with the advice and consent of the state Senate. The judges began their terms in 1907 and continued until January 1, 1911. In that year, the court would have to be reinstated by the Legislature. The Second Legislature voted to continue the Criminal Court of Appeals. In House Bill 33, the legislature changed law in such a way that judges would be elected by general election, rather than through appointment. In the 27th Legislature, the name was changed from Criminal Court of Appeals to the Court of Criminal Appeals. In 1967, the constitution was amended to reorganize the state court system; in this, the judges of the Court of Criminal Appeals ran on a nonpartisan ballot, and if retained, judges served six-year terms.[1][5]

See also

External links



JudgeElection Vote
LumpkinGary Lumpkin 62.4% ApprovedA


CandidateIncumbencyPartyDivisionPrimary VoteElection Vote
Clancy SmithCarlene Clancy Smith   ApprovedAYes   ApprovedA