A guide to judicial offices

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NOTE: The information below is for the 2006 election. The details for the 2010 Tulsa County and Pawnee County judicial elections may be found by following this link.

It took me a while to puzzle all this out, and I thought others might be interested as well.

Oklahoma has 26 District Courts. Tulsa County and Pawnee County constitute Judicial District No. 14. State law says that District 14 has 14 district judge offices.

One judge must reside in and be nominated from Pawnee County, eight must reside in and be nominated from Tulsa County. If there are more than two candidates for any of those nine offices, there is a non-partisan nominating primary in the appropriate county, and the top two vote-getters are on the general election ballot. (Even if one gets more than 50% of the vote, the top two still advance.)

In the general election, all voters in Pawnee and Tulsa Counties vote on those nine seats.

The remaining five district judges are selected by electoral division in Tulsa County. In order to comply with the Voting Rights Act, Tulsa County is divided into five electoral divisions of equal population, one of which (Electoral Division 3) has a "minority-majority" population. For each of these five offices, if there are three or more candidates, there is a non-partisan nominating primary. If one candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, he is elected; otherwise, the top two advance to the general election. For each of these five offices, the candidates must reside in the corresponding electoral division, and only voters in that electoral division will vote for that office in the primary and general election. (Oklahoma County, Judicial District No. 7, is the only other county with judges elected by division.)

(CORRECTION: I'm told that the electoral division are not in fact of equal population. The minority-majority district is much smaller than the other four, as it must be in order to guarantee that the electorate is majority African-American.)

Despite the three different paths one can take to be elected, a Judge in Judicial District No. 14 can be assigned to try any case within the two counties.

Each county in the state also elects an Associate District Judge, nominated and elected countywide. There will be a general election contest for Tulsa County Associate District Judge between Caroline Wall and Dana Kuehn. Pawnee County Associate District Judge Matthew Henry was re-elected without opposition. (He was probably helped by all that free publicity from his Bible commentary.)

In addition to the elected judges, the District has a certain number of Special Judges, who are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the District Judges. Several candidates for District Judge currently serve as Special Judges.

All this I was able to puzzle out from prior knowledge and browsing through the relevant sections of the Oklahoma Statutes. What I still couldn't quite figure out is which of the 14 offices corresponded with the five electoral divisions, and which one was nominated from Pawnee County. Although electoral division 4 votes for office 4, I was pretty sure the pattern did not apply to the other offices. After a few phone calls, someone from the Tulsa County Election Board found the relevant info in the League of Women Voters handbook. So here it is, for your reference and mine:

Office Incumbent Nominated by Primary 2006 Elected by General 2006
1 Shaffer1 Tulsa Co.   Tulsa and Pawnee Cos. Yes
2 Harris Tulsa Co. ED 3   Tulsa Co. ED 3  
3 Smith Tulsa Co.   Tulsa and Pawnee Cos.  
4 Peterson1 Tulsa Co. ED 4 Yes Tulsa Co. ED 4 ? 2
5 Sellers Pawnee Co.   Tulsa and Pawnee Cos.  
6 McAllister Tulsa Co. ED 2   Tulsa Co. ED 2  
7 Gillert Tulsa Co.   Tulsa and Pawnee Cos.  
8 Thornbrugh Tulsa Co. ED 5   Tulsa Co. ED 5 Yes
9 Morrissey Tulsa Co.   Tulsa and Pawnee Cos.  
10 Frizzell3 Tulsa Co. Yes Tulsa and Pawnee Cos. Yes
11 Nightingale Tulsa Co. ED 1   Tulsa Co. ED 1  
12 Fransein Tulsa Co.   Tulsa and Pawnee Cos.  
13 Shallcross Tulsa Co.   Tulsa and Pawnee Cos. Yes
14 Gassett Tulsa Co.   Tulsa and Pawnee Cos.  

Offices elected by Tulsa County Electoral Divisions in red.
Offices nominated by Pawnee County in blue.

1 Not seeking re-election.
2 Three candidates in this race; if none of them receive more than 50% in the primary, there will be a runoff.
3 Judge Frizzell was nominated by President Bush to the Federal District Court and withdrew his candidacy for re-election.

Although all 14 offices are up for election this year, only five offices are contested, and only two of those will be on the primary ballot.

Only one of the five offices elected by electoral division is contested this year. Jim Caputo, the municipal judge for Collinsville, Special Judge Damon Cantrell, and David Blades are seeking the post being vacated by David Peterson. The approximate boundaries of the district are all of Tulsa County north of 66th St. N.; east of Sheridan between Admiral and 66th St. N.; Memorial to 193rd East Ave. between Admiral and 31st; Memorial to 129th East Ave., between 31st and 61st. To know for sure which electoral division you live in, use the precinct locator at the Tulsa County Election Board website.


Jo Anne said:

David Blades is the most qualified candidate for District Judge in Division 4. David has been a trial lawyer for 14 years and has extensive experience in state and federal court in many different areas of law. His knowledge base in a variety of areas of law if impressive.

I worked with him for over eight of those years. He is incredibly calm, patient and intelligent. He is able to effectively communicate with all types of people. He can make a hard decision (and good one) when needed. As a former intelligence officer in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) he made decisions involving national security. He helped our country during the fall of Soviet Communnism and the rise of terrorism. He has dealt with tough issues. He honors his committments and stands behind his word. We need a Judge with his experience and abilities!

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on June 23, 2006 4:11 PM.

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