Press Release

Oklahoma Civil Justice Council Releases Judicial Evaluation of the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals

OKLAHOMA CITY—The Oklahoma Civil Justice Council released its inaugural evaluation of the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals today.  This is a follow-up report to its release of the Oklahoma Supreme Court evaluation in September.

As was the case with the Supreme Court evaluation, this evaluation analyzes cases that can have an impact on the economic development and institutional life of the state and that involve liability creation and its expansion or restraint. The evaluations were conducted by the Judicial Evaluation Institute of Washington, D.C. and Sequoyah Information Systems. Two Hundred and Thirty-One cases were selected in the initial Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals study.  Each judge received a rating based on their individual position in each case.   
 
"The Oklahoma Civil Justice Council has been created, in part, to examine the performance of Oklahoma’s appellate courts. It is vitally important for all Oklahomans to have information about how these cases—which often impact everyone in our state—are decided," said Fred Morgan, president of OCJC.

"As the third branch of our state government, the decisions of the judiciary have a tremendous impact on everyone in our state. The spread of civil liability adversely affects our schools, non-profit organizations and businesses. Just as the State Chamber monitors and evaluates the activity of the Legislature, our members are very interested in receiving more information about how decisions of the judiciary impact them,” Morgan said.
 
Receiving the highest individual rating was Judge Kenneth L. Buettner at 91 percent.  Other ratings of court members include a 78 percent for Judge E. Bay Mitchell, III; 62 percent for Judge Larry E. Joplin; 49 percent for Judge Jane P. Wiseman; 48 percent for Judge Robert D. Bell; 46 percent for Judge Keith Rapp; 45 percent for Judge Deborah Barnes; 43 percent for Judge Jerry L. Goodman; and, 38 percent for Judge John Fischer.  Recently-appointed Judges Brian Goree, William C. Hetherington, Jr. and P. Thomas Thornbrugh did not receive scores because they did not participate in a sufficient number of cases during the time period evaluated in the study.  

“It is important to note that the council’s effort to disseminate this evaluation is intended to educate Oklahoma citizens and voters,” said Morgan.  “In Oklahoma, judges are on retention ballots, and voters have a right to more information before casting their ballot,” Morgan said.

“Voters need to know that judges looking at the very same set of facts with the same rule of law to guide them often rule in differing ways. Voters deserve to know if our Court of Civil Appeals judges are following the constitution and deciding cases based on the laws passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor or are they expanding liability and creating new law? This evaluation will arm them with the facts.”

The Economic Judicial Report (EJR), based in Oklahoma, which compiled these evaluations, states that “the decisions chosen for inclusion in the report(s) are principally those that meet two criteria:  first, in the opinion of EJR they will tend either to expand liability even further or, conversely, help stop its spread; second they present legal issues about which judges who heard or reviewed a case disagreed.”

To read the full evaluations and access the citations to the respective cases used in these evaluations, click the navigation tab above.

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Oklahoma Civil Justice Council Releases Initial Judicial Evaluation of the Oklahoma Supreme Court

OKLAHOMA CITY—The Oklahoma Civil Justice Council (OCJC) released its inaugural evaluation of the Oklahoma Supreme Court today.

This evaluation analyzes cases that can have an impact on the economic development and institutional life of the state and that involve liability creation and its expansion or restraint. The evaluations were conducted by the Judicial Evaluation Institute of Washington, D.C. and Sequoyah Information Systems. One hundred and forty five cases were selected in the initial Oklahoma Supreme Court study.  Each judge received a rating based on their individual position in each case.   
 
"The Oklahoma Civil Justice Council has been created, in part, to examine the performance of Oklahoma’s Supreme Court. It is vitally important for all Oklahomans to have information about how these cases, which often impact everyone in our state, are decided," said Fred Morgan, president of OCJC.

"As the third branch of our state government, the decisions of the judiciary have a tremendous impact on everyone in our state. The spread of civil liability adversely affects our schools, non-profit organizations and businesses. Just as the State Chamber monitors and evaluates the activity of the Legislature, our members are very interested in receiving more information about how decisions of the judiciary impact them,” Morgan said.
 
Receiving the highest individual rating were Justices Steven Taylor and James Winchester at 69 percent.  Other ratings of court members include a 30 percent for Justice John Reif; 32 percent for Justice James Edmondson; 31 percent for Justice Yvonne Kauger; 26 percent for Justice Joseph Watt; and 21 percent for Justice Tom Colbert.  Recently-appointed Justices Douglas Combs and Noma Gurich received provisional scores because they have participated in fewer cases than the other justices.
“It is important to note that OCJC’s effort to disseminate this evaluation is intended to educate Oklahoma citizens and voters,” said Morgan.  “In Oklahoma, judges are on retention ballots, and voters have a right to more information before casting their ballot,” Morgan said.

“Voters need to know that judges looking at the very same set of facts with the same rule of law to guide them often rule in differing ways. Voters deserve to know if our Supreme Court judges are following the constitution and deciding cases based on the laws passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor or are they expanding liability and creating new law? This evaluation will arm them with the facts.”

The Economic Judicial Report (EJR), based in Oklahoma, which compiled these evaluations, states that “the decisions chosen for inclusion in the report(s) are principally those that meet two criteria:  first, in the opinion of EJR they will tend either to expand liability even further or, conversely, help stop its spread; second they present legal issues about which judges who heard or reviewed a case disagreed.”

To read the full evaluations and access the citations to the respective cases used in these evaluations, click the navigation tab above.