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Posted: Apr 18, 2019 2:55 PMUpdated: Apr 18, 2019 3:11 PM

Senate Passes Bill to Increase Judicial Applicant Pool

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Garrett Giles

The Oklahoma Senate advanced a measure to modernize the Oklahoma Supreme Court district boundaries on Wednesday.

Bartlesville's Senator Julie Daniels is the Senate principal author for House Bill 2366 and said it was moved forward in an effort to increase the pool of qualified applicants eligible to fill judicial vacancies in the future.

According to Sen. Daniels, judges do not represent geographical areas in her mind, even though that is the system in place. She said they want to eliminate politics from the judiciary and the reform bill would enhance that possibility.

Anyone that is the creme of the crop in their profession in a rural area is going to be the creme of the crop in their profession whether they come from one of nine districts or one of five districts, Sen. Daniels said. She said she wants the JNC to have four more opportunities to tap the best of the best.

House Bill 2366 would modify the boundaries of the Supreme Court district map to align with the state's five congressional districts and establishes four at-large seats beginning July 1, 2020.

Sen. Daniels said the measure sets the boundaries for the Court of Criminal Appeals judicial districts to be the boundaries of the five Oklahoma congressional districts. The legislation does not affect any sitting justice and does not prohibit them seeking retention.

The nine judicial districts were drawn in 1967 following a Constitutional amendment to eliminate judicial elections. The amendment created a judicial nominating commission method of recommending judicial nominees to the governor for appointment. 

There are approximately 13,000 members of the Oklahoma Bar Association, with a significant percentage of practicing attorneys living and working in metropolitan areas.

The Senate vote on House Bill 2366 was 34-13. The measure now heads to the governor’s desk for consideration.


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