Civil Court of Appeals

P. Thomas

Thornbrugh, 64, has been a district judge since 1997, when he was appointed by then-Gov. Frank Keating. Since July 2009, Thornbrugh has been the presiding judge, chosen by his colleagues, for the judicial district that consists of Tulsa and Pawnee counties.
The job of presiding judge carries administrative and budget responsibilities and involves extra duties regarding jurors, the public and other judges.
In a move that was designated previously, District Judge William Kellough will succeed Thornbrugh as presiding judge.


Judge Brian Jack Goree, District 6, Office 2. Born March 18, 1964, Goree was raised in Tulsa and earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Oklahoma in 1986. He received his law degree from the University of Tulsa in 1989. Goree was in private practice in Tulsa for twenty-three years, primarily focusing on legal research and writing and volunteering with Tulsa Lawyers for Children. He is a registered patent attorney and a past chairman of the Appellate Practice Section of the Oklahoma Bar Association.


In 1970 Hetherington earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Oklahoma and in 1979 he earned his law degree from Oklahoma City University. Since 1992 Hetherington had been a judge on the Cleveland County District Court. He served as a special district judge and was in private practice before that. Judge Hetherington is married and has three children.


Judge Fischer attended the University of Oklahoma for his bachelor's degree, as well as his master's degree in English literature. He later attended the University of Oklahoma College of Law for his Law Degree. From 1976 until 1980 Judge Fischer served as an assistant attorney general and from 1980 to 2006 he was in private practice.

E. Bay

Judge Mitchell currently serves as Presiding Judge of Division III in Oklahoma City. He was born on Nov. 6, 1953. He grew up in Enid and graduated from Enid High School in 1972. He attended the University of Oklahoma, where he received a bachelor's degree in 1976 and a Juris Doctor degree in 1979. Mitchell worked in private law practice for 14 years in Oklahoma City and in Enid. In 1993, he became staff attorney to the Honorable Carl B. Jones of the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals.

Larry E.

Judge Larry E. Joplin, District 4, Office 2. Born on August 9, 1946, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Joplin received a bachelor's degree and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Oklahoma. While in law school, Joplin was selected for the Oklahoma Law Review, and Moot Court, with his team placing third nationally his junior year. Joplin served as an attorney with Pierce & Couch from 1971 to 1973, and Bohannon & Barth from 1973 to 1976. He was a partner in his own law firm, Wheatley & Joplin, from 1978 to 1982, and a partner with Crowe & Dunlevy from 1982 to 1993.

Kenneth L.

Judge Kenneth Buettner was appointed to the Court of Civil Appeals by Gov. Frank Keating and was sworn in Feb. 26, 1996. He served as Vice-Chief Judge in 2004 and as Chief Judge since January 2005. He has been a member of the Executive Board of the Oklahoma Judicial Conference since 2002, serving as president of the Conference in 2005.


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