Law & Principles

Trent England | November 4, 2016

Judges on the Ballot

Trent England

The people of Oklahoma have no say in the selection of judges to state appeals courts and the Oklahoma Supreme Court. They do, however, vote on these judges in "retention" elections. Judges on the Oklahoma Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals, and Court of Civil Appeals are thus on the ballot every six years (district court judges are elected and face reelection every four years). While no Oklahoma judge ever has been kicked out this way, growing dissatisfaction with the judiciary has stirred interest in these elections.

Two Oklahoma Supreme Court justices, two Court of Criminal Appeals judges, and three Court of Civil Appeals judges are up for retention elections on November 8, 2016. If any of these judges are defeated, the judicial vacancy would be filled using the same process for other judicial vacancies.

Supreme Court Justice Douglas Combs was appointed by Gov. Brad Henry in 2010. The Judicial Evaluation Institute ranks judges around the country based on their tendency to either expand civil liability or to constrain it, and has found that Justice Combs tends to favor expansive civil liability.

Justice James Winchester, who is also on the ballot this year, was appointed by Gov. Frank Keating in 2000. He tends to favor strict construction of limits on civil liability, according to the Judicial Evaluation Institute.

Information about the other judges on the ballot can be found at Ballotpedia, the Oklahoma Civil Justice Council, and the website (which also includes court opinions and much more information about the Oklahoma judiciary).

Trent England David and Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow

Trent England

David and Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow

Trent England is the David and Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, where he previously served as executive vice president. He is also the founder and executive director of Save Our States, which educates Americans about the importance of the Electoral College. England is a producer of the feature-length documentary “Safeguard: An Electoral College Story.” He has appeared three times on Fox & Friends and is a frequent guest on media programs from coast to coast. He is the author of Why We Must Defend the Electoral College and a contributor to The Heritage Guide to the Constitution and One Nation Under Arrest: How Crazy Laws, Rogue Prosecutors, and Activist Judges Threaten Your Liberty. His writing has also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Times, Hillsdale College's Imprimis speech digest, and other publications. Trent formerly hosted morning drive-time radio in Oklahoma City and has filled for various radio hosts including Ben Shapiro. A former legal policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, he holds a law degree from The George Mason University School of Law and a bachelor of arts in government from Claremont McKenna College.

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