Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Morgan Seeks Delay In Court Selection

State Chamber of Oklahoma President Fred Morgan has called on the chairman of the Judicial Nominating Commission to halt the selection process for a Supreme Court justice until the people’s will is fulfilled through implementation of State Question 752.

The question, which passed with a vote of 63 percent earlier this month, requires that two, non-lawyer appointees be added to the commission. It also requires that none of the six non-lawyer members currently serving on the commission be related to a lawyer. Until the two new appointments are made by the Speaker of the House and President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and it is confirmed that none of the six non-lawyer members are related to a lawyer, the commission should not continue its work, said Morgan.“The people of Oklahoma have said loud and clear that they want to see changes to the Judicial Nominating Committee, and until those changes occur, any nominees will be tainted by a commission that is out of line with the will of the people,” said Morgan.

“This is not about who gets to make the appointment; this is about making sure this commission is in line with the will of the Oklahoma people. Currently, it is not.”

The commission has continued to move forward with its nominating process—despite passage of SQ 752 and a pending attorney general opinion at the request of the commission’s chairman—taking applications through Nov. 19, with a winnowing of that list imminent. Once three names are submitted by the commission to the governor for consideration, an appointment to the bench can be made at any time.

Allen Smallwood, chairman of the Judicial Nominating Commission, told The Oklahoman the commission has a quorum even without the new members and plans to proceed with the process of selecting nominees to submit to the governor for final selection.

“It would be a mistake to make an appointment to the bench with the judicial nomination process in flux,” said Morgan. “I doubt neither Gov. Brad Henry nor Gov.-elect Mary Fallin want to see their selection questioned in court because of this issue. It is best to not rush this process, which will give the commission a chance to align itself with the will of the people.”

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