Saturday, October 29, 2016

State Chamber rates judges on the ballot

 by Fred Morgan, President and CEO of the State Chamber

Are you going to vote on Nov. 8? Good.

Do you consider yourself an educated voter? Even better. You know who you’re going to vote for president, senator, congressman and probably even who you’re going to vote for in your state representative and Senate race. Excellent. You may have even made up your mind on the seven state questions that will be on the ballot.

One last question: Have you decided how you’re going to vote when it comes to the retention of any of the appellate judges on the ballot? Are you going to look at the ballot and just vote “no” for all of them, or maybe “yes” for all of them? Do you know how they have voted on decisions that affect you, your business and your family?

Unfortunately, most voters go into the voting booth with little or no knowledge of who these judges are or how they have voted on decisions important to Oklahomans.

Four years ago, the State Chamber of Oklahoma, in partnership with other chambers and trade organizations, created the Oklahoma Civil Justice Council to serve as an educational tool for the public to learn more about our courts and judges. To that end, the OCJC has published its 2016 evaluation of the Oklahoma Supreme Court and the Court of Civil Appeals. We published similar evaluations in 2012 and 2014. These evaluations, conducted by independent reviewers, analyze cases where the judges have disagreed, reviewing the exact same law and the exact same facts, and which have an effect on civil liability.

So, how do our appellate court judges do when it comes to restricting civil liability that increases the cost of your insurance and the prices you pay for everything? Remember, the higher the rating, the more inclined the judge is to follow the laws passed by the Legislature. The lower the score, the more inclined the judge is to make up their own laws expanding liability.

  • Supreme Court Justice James R. Winchester, 74 percent.
  • Supreme Court Justice Douglas L. Combs, 36 percent.
  • Court of Civil Appeals Judge Tom Thornbrugh, 39 percent.
  • Court of Civil Appeals Judge John F. Fischer, 37 percent.
  • Court of Civil Appeals Judge Larry Joplin, 82 percent.

When you vote to retain (or not to retain) appellate judges on Nov. 8, you might want to remember these numbers. Check out the full ratings at


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