Sunday, October 24, 2010

2010 Election: Oklahoma Judicial Retention

Oklahoma voters get to decide whether or not to "retain" judges on the various different state courts every two years. Ever since the retention system was implemented, no judge has ever been kicked out of office.

This year, three judges are on the statewide ballot - two State Supreme Court Justices, and one Court of Civil Appeals Justice. Given that practically nobody knows anything about these judges come election time, I'll post a little bit of information about the judges here, and how I will be voting.

Oklahoma Supreme Court

Justice James R. Winchester

Justice James Winchester was appointed by Gov. Frank Keating (R) on Jan. 4, 2000 as a member of the Supreme Court of Oklahoma. A native of Clinton, Oklahoma, Justice Winchester received his bachelors of art from the University of Oklahoma and his juris doctorate from Oklahoma City University.

After graduating from law school, Justice Winchester practiced law in Weatherford and Hinton before being named Associate District Judge for Caddo County in Jan. 1983. In Dec. 1983, at age 30, Justice Winchester became one of the youngest district judges in the state when he was appointed as District Judge for the Sixth Judicial District of Oklahoma. During his tenure as a district judge, he tried more than 200 jury trials, ranging from fraud to first-degree murder death-penalty cases.

Justice Winchester was named Outstanding State Trial Court Judge by the Oklahoma Trial Lawyers Association in 1986 and served as an executive board member of the Oklahoma Judicial Conference from 1992 to 1996. He served as President of the Oklahoma Judicial Conference in 1995. From August 1997 to January 2000, Justice Winchester served as a U.S. Administrative Law Judge. Winchester is husband to former State Rep. Susan Winchester (R-Chickasha).

My suggested vote: YES

 Justice Steven W. Taylor

Vice-Chief Justice Steven W. Taylor earned his B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University in 1971.  Justice Taylor received the Juris Doctor degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Law in 1974.

Taylor joined the United States Marine Corps in 1970 and served on active duty from 1974-1978.  He was trained as an infantry platoon commander and later served as a prosecutor and Chief Defense Counsel.  In 1977 he became the youngest judge in the U.S. Armed Forces.  He was promoted to the rank of Major.

Following his active duty service in the Marines, Taylor practiced law in McAlester from 1978-1984.  In 1980 he was elected to the McAlester City Council and in 1982 was elected Mayor of McAlester, making him the youngest Mayor in that city’s history. 

In March 1984 Governor George Nigh appointed Taylor Associate District Judge for Pittsburg County.  In 1991 he was the first Associate District Judge ever to be elected President of the Oklahoma Judicial Conference.  In 1994, Taylor was elected District Judge of the 18th Judicial District.  In 1997 and 2003 he was elected Presiding Judge of the ten county East-Central Judicial Administrative District. In his over 20 years as a trial judge, he presided over more than 500 jury trials including the Terry Nichols Oklahoma City bombing case.

On September 24, 2004, Gov. Brad Henry (D) appointed Taylor to be a Justice of the Supreme Court of Oklahoma.

My suggested vote: NO

Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals (click links for info)

Deborah B. Barnes [appointed by Gov. Brad Henry (D)]: NO
Doug Gabbard II [appointed by Gov. Brad Henry (D)]: NO
John F. Fischer [appointed by Gov. Brad Henry (D)]: NO
Larry Joplin [appointed by Gov. David Walters (D)]: NO

I will be voting 'no' on the judges appointed by Democrat governors, not necessarily because of their actions, but because Mary Fallin will likely be the next Governor, and would be appointing their replacements. I trust a Republican governor more than I do a Democrat one (and especially more than I do Gov. Brad Henry).

If I run across any differing opinions on the judges, I'll try to post them.


  1. Thanks! I appreciate your work on this. It was sorely needed.

  2. Thank you, Jamison. The only thing I could remember about any of these Judges is Judge Winchester voted the "right" way in 2006 on SQ726.

    Bobbie McAuliffe
    Poteau, OK

  3. GREAT JOB Jamison! I want to hire you (for free of course! LOL!) to do this for our website. No one seems to know anything at all about judges and this is truly awe-inspiring work! Thank you!
    Jenni White

  4. Great information! And, great point about voting 'no' so that Fallin can appoint judges. I hadn't thought of that, makes very good sense.

    I always used to forget about the judges until I got into the voting booth. Not anymore; I've been paying attention to the local judge elections, for our county and district, but I'm glad to see this for the ones we all vote on. I had, of course, forgotten about them. :)

    Thanks for this. Great blog!


  5. Just want to throw out there that as an "out of town" lawyer going into Judge Taylor's court many years ago, my clients were always treating fairly. I don't have a dog in this fight, but always felt Judge Taylor was one of the good guys with the perfect temperment for a judge.


PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR NAME when commenting. Anonymous comments may be rejected if NOT accompanied by a name.

Comments are welcome, but remember - commenting on my blog is a privilege. Do not abuse that privilege, or your comment will be deleted.

Thank you for joining in the discussion at! Your opinion is appreciated!