Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission

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Judicial selection in the states
Judicial selection in Oklahoma
Seal of Oklahoma.png
Oklahoma Supreme Court
Method:   Gubernatorial appointment through nominating commission
Term:   6 years
Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals
Method:   Gubernatorial appointment through nominating commission
Term:   6 years
Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals
Method:   Gubernatorial appointment through nominating commission
Term:   6 years

The Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission chooses potential nominees for appointment by the Governor to judicial positions on Oklahoma's appellate courts.[1]


When the Oklahoma Constitution was adopted in 1907, judges were chosen through partisan elections. In 1967, three justices on the Oklahoma Supreme Court were impeached, or resigned from office, after the IRS investigated reports indicating the justices had accepted bribes in exchange for making favorable decisions in cases.[2] Following the bribery scandal, the state decided to change the judicial selection process, in an effort to insulate the process from partisan politics.

On July 11, 1967, voters approved State Question 447 which amended the Oklahoma Constitution, by adding Article 7B, and creating the Judicial Nominating Commission. In 1969, the commission began nominating justices to serve on the supreme court and the Court of Criminal Appeals through a merit selection process known as the Missouri Plan. The Court of Civil Appeals was created in 1968 and judges serving on this court were selected in nonpartisan elections until 1987 when the selection process was changed to the Missouri Plan. District and associate district judges and judges on the Workers' Compensation Court are still chosen in nonpartisan elections. However, vacancies on these courts are filled by the nominating commission. By law, the nominating commission has the sole responsibility to determine if a candidate is qualified to serve as a judge.[3][4]

Commission members

The commission consists of 15 members: Nine members are non-lawyers, with six being appointed by the Governor, who selects one member from each of the six congressional districts which existed in 1967 (also known as the "old congressional districts"). Of these, no member can have a lawyer in their immediate family. Only three of these members, or fewer, can belong to the same political party. Six lawyer members are elected by the Oklahoma Bar Association, one from each of the six "old" congressional districts. In 2010, voters approved a ballot measure allowing the President Pro Tempore of the state senate and the Speaker of the house to each choose one lawyer member, at-large, to serve on the commission.[3] The 15th member is selected, at-large, by an eight member majority of the other appointed and elected committee members. This member cannot be a licensed attorney in Oklahoma, or any state, and must live in Oklahoma. If the commission cannot agree on a member within thirty days, the Governor may choose the at-large member.[4]

Lawyer members and non-lawyer members serve six-year terms, staggered at two-year intervals. Members-at-large serve for terms of two years. No member is eligible to serve immediately after completing a term on the commission. The commission's members are not paid.[4]

See also

External links