Oklahoma Speaker puts forth judicial agenda: keep merit selection but change nominating commission, term limits but only for Court of Civil Appeals, mandatory retirement age for all appellate judges, several “placeholder” bills

I mentioned that Oklahoma Senate passed several bills last year to alter the state’s merit selection system, impose term limits on the state’s judges, and remove the supreme court’s power to name its own chief justice. The Speaker of the Oklahoma House declined to take up such bills, but expressed interested after the state supreme court struck down a tort reform bill he had championed. The Speaker has now personally filed several bills this week to change the way Oklahoma’s court function.

HB 3378: mandatory retirement for appellate judges at age 75; judge may serve out term in which age 75 is reached
HB 3379: term limits of 12 years for the Court of Civil Appeals only; there is no mention of term limits for the state’s top courts (Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals) although news reports indicate that may be in the offing
HB 3380: Creation of Board on Judicial Performance Evaluation. Board to evaluation appellate and district court judges on integrity, legal knowledge, communication skills, judicial temperament, administrative performance, whether the judge “participates in a proportionate share of the court’s workload”, and service to the legal profession and the public by participating in service-oriented efforts. Results of Board’s evaluation to be released 45 days prior to election/re-election.
HB 3381: Change to membership of Judicial Nominating Commission: 6 members chosen by the Oklahoma Bar Association to be removed by attrition. New members must be Oklahoma Bar Association members, but are to be chosen by Speaker of the House (3) and President Pro Tempore of the Senate (3).

In addition the Speaker filed several placeholder bills (i.e. titles but no text): HB 3074 (Court Improvement Act of 2014), HB 3075 (Judicial Reform Act of 2014), and HB 3076 (Judicial Revision Act of 2014).

The Oklahoma legislature comes into session February 4.

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