Oklahoma Civil Justice Council



What is the Oklahoma Civil Justice Council?

The State Chamber of Oklahoma, in partnership with other chambers and trade organizations, created the Oklahoma Civil Justice Council (OCJC) four years ago to serve as an educational tool for the public to learn more about our courts and judges, as well as to promote fairness and equity in Oklahoma's civil justice system.

Why do we need OCJC?

Over the past several years we have seen the need to 1) file lawsuits to protect Oklahoma business interests throughout the state, and 2) file amicus briefs in appeals to the Oklahoma and U.S. Supreme Courts as a result of very damaging lawsuits. With the passage of new tort reform laws, along with workers’ compensation reforms and continuing employment law issues, we expect to be asked to file other amicus briefs in the near future. 

We have also seen a need for a system of judicial evaluation develop across the country and anticipate the need for such an evaluation program in Oklahoma. The U.S. Chamber Of Commerce’s National Chamber Litigation Center has been involved for years in filing lawsuits and amicus briefs on issues critical to American business. In addition, their Institute for Legal Reform has been active in the area of judicial evaluations. 

We believe it’s time to do the same for Oklahoma.

How does OCJC help Oklahomans?

The expansion of civil liability by our courts adversely impacts every Oklahoman. Higher awards on frivolous lawsuits raise the insurance rates on everyone. Our goal in presenting these evaluations is to educate Oklahoma citizens and voters on how our judges are voting on cases appealed to them.

In Oklahoma, appellate court judges are on the ballot in November, and voters have a right to as much information as possible before voting to retain (or not to retain) these judges. 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 judges are following the constitution and deciding cases based on the laws passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor—or if they are expanding liability and creating new law. OCJC’s Judicial Evaluation arms you the voter with the facts.

Who actually prepared this study?

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 16:23 -- lwheeler

The Economic Judicial Report (EJR), based in Oklahoma, and JEI prepared the study. Recognized as the national leaders in conducting judicial evaluations, EJR and JEI have completed similar studies of the judiciaries in many states, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Texas, and West Virginia.

Explain the rating given to each judge.

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 16:03 -- lwheeler

Each member of the Oklahoma Supreme Court has been evaluated on his or her decisions in six broad areas of law and the effect of those decisions on civil liability in Oklahoma's law and courts. The areas are: employment, insurance, medical malpractice, "other liability lawsuits," product liability, and workers' compensation. Each judge is given an overall cumulative score. The higher the score, the more the judge's opinions have had the effect of restraining liability, in EJR's and JEI's opinion.

Who commissioned this study?

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 15:25 -- lwheeler

This study was commissioned by the Judicial Evaluation Institute for Economic Issues (JEI). JEI is a Washington, D.C. - based research institute formed to educate the public on the importance of evaluating judges' performance with respect to the spread of liability in American society and its effect on our prosperity and our institutional life. JEI encourages the development of information necessary to accomplish that task.


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