As we enter this New Year, and look back on the previous year there have been many changes, challenges, and events for the
Oklahoma County Judiciary.
Oklahoma County has experienced an increase in population, new business and housing growth and exciting plans for the future of the City. Along with new and exciting opportunities, the Oklahoma County judiciary saw an unprecedented number of six new women judges take the bench. We also saw many of our long-serving colleagues take retirement or elevate to other positions in the judiciary. Judges Bryan Dixon, Roger Stuart, Patricia Parrish, Larry Shaw, James Croy, Russell Hall, and Roma McElwee retired. Each left with many with years of wisdom, experience and practical knowledge which was an asset to the conference which is missed. Other Judges like Bernard Jones and Barbara Swinton moved to higher judicial positions. Special Judge Easter was recognized for his outstanding work for Oklahoma County’s Cost Collections and was honored with the position of overseeing the administration of statewide cost collections. Sadly, Oklahoma County experienced the passing of Judges John Jacobsen, Don Deason, and Lisa Davis, colleagues whose tenure on the bench provided value and direction in so many ways.
Throughout the transitions of personnel and changes in the law, the Court kept pace. The Civil Division Judges often carried on a rotating basis three dockets in addition to their own dockets. The Criminal Division at times was short two Judges and rotated those dockets to keep up with the existing dockets. Special judges have also stood up to the task of covering more than one or two dockets at a time while all divisions were absorbing illness, retirements, and vacancies… The probate and juvenile divisions were tasked with increasing workloads and case filings and added a new judge and began the process of streamlining procedures. The passage of criminal justice reforms was welcome to many, however, the influx of cases on the misdemeanor docket was unprecedented and required Oklahoma County Special Judges to adjust to the heavy workload. During this time Oklahoma County has experienced an approximately 40% increase in court cases being filed. The venue for most of the State agencies is by statute Oklahoma County. As a result, Oklahoma County sometimes receives controversial and complicated litigation on matters of statewide importance.
Through it all, we have and will continue to do our work with a sense of honor, purpose, and adherence to the rule of law. We hold dear the privilege and honor of serving the public, the attorneys, and this great state of Oklahoma and this great country.