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Tom Colbert

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Tom Colbert
Court Information:
Oklahoma Supreme Court
Title:   Chief justice
Salary:  $147k (Supreme); $142k (Criminal Appeals Presiding)
Appointed by:   Gov. Brad Henry
Active:   2004-1/10/2021
Chief:   2013-2014
Past post:   Judge, Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals
Past term:   1999-2004
Past post 2:   Attorney in private practice and Oklahoma Department of Human Services attorney
Past term 2:   1987-1998
Personal History
Born:   12/30/1949
Undergraduate:   Kentucky State University, 1973
Law School:   University of Oklahoma, 1982
Grad. School:   Eastern Kent ucky University, 1976
Military service:   U.S. Army
Candidate 2014:
Candidate for:  Supreme Court
Position:  Retention
State:  Oklahoma
Election information 2014:
Incumbent:  Yes
Election date:  11/4/2014
Election vote:  62.6%ApprovedA

Tom Colbert is the chief justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court. He was initially appointed to the court on October 7, 2004, by Democratic Governor Brad Henry.[1] He was retained in 2008 and again in 2014. His term expires on January 10, 2021.[2]

In November 2012, Colbert's fellow justices chose him to be the chief justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court. His term in that position will last from January 1, 2013, to December 31, 2014.[3]

Colbert, who served as chief judge of the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals prior to joining the state's highest court, is the first black justice to sit on the Oklahoma Supreme Court. When he was sworn in, Colbert said, "[t]here are so many people across this country of all races and nationality that never thought they would live to see this day."[4]



See also: Oklahoma judicial elections, 2014
Colbert was retained to the Supreme Court with 62.6 percent of the vote on November 4, 2014.[2]


Colbert was retained to the supreme court with 66.1% of the vote.[5]


Colbert earned his associate's degree from Eastern Oklahoma State College in 1970. He earned his B.S. from Kentucky State University in 1973 and an M.A. from Eastern Kentucky University in 1976. He earned his J.D. from the University of Oklahoma in 1982.[1]


Awards and associations

  • Member, American Bar Association
  • National Bar Association
  • Oklahoma Bar Association
  • Participates, Track and Field Masters Level
  • Tulsa County Bar Association[1]

Black men facing danger, Justice says

Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Tom Colbert said that black males “are living in a dangerous time.” Speaking during a symposium at Langston University-Tulsa in January 2008, Colbert said black men are an endangered species and by 2020, 4.5 million black males are expected to be in prison.

Colbert also reeled off figures showing how black men are negatively affected in society. He said seven out of 10 black babies are born out of wedlock and 50 percent of black high school freshmen will not graduate. The symposium: “African American Men at the Corner of Progress and Peril,” drew attention to the problems black males face in America.[6]

Workers' comp doesn't cover stroke

The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals was wrong to grant workers' compensation benefits to a school cafeteria worker who suffered a stroke, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled. The Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Court had denied Pamela Wilson's claim, and the denial was upheld by a three-judge panel of the Workers' Compensation Court. The Workers' Compensation Court denied Wilson's claim, finding that her vascular stress did not arise out of stress in excess of that experienced in the course of everyday living. But the Court of Civil Appeals disagreed, finding that the lower court had not based its decision on competent evidence. The Supreme Court vacated the opinion of the Court of Civil Appeals and sustained the lower court's decision to deny Wilson's claim. Only Colbert disagreed with the decision to vacate the Appeals Court's ruling.[7]

Political ideology

See also: Political ideology of State Supreme Court Justices

In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan ideology of state supreme court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 are more liberal. Colbert received a Campaign finance score (CFscore) of 0.26, indicating a conservative ideological leaning. This is less conservative than the average CF score of 0.33 that justices received in Oklahoma. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice, but an academic gauge of various factors.[8]

See also

External links