Oklahoma Court on the Judiciary
The Oklahoma Court on the Judiciary is a special court in the State of Oklahoma that is designed towards hearing complaints on judges and in adjudicating discipline and removal of judges in Oklahoma.
The Court of the Judiciary is one of two bodies of judicial discipline in the State of Oklahoma. The court of the judiciary is the court responsible for removing judges from their position if they have committed illegal acts.
If any judge exercising judicial power under the Oklahoma Constitution, other than the Justices of the Oklahoma Supreme Court are found guilty of gross neglect of duty, corruption in office, habitual drunkenness, commission while in office of any offense involving moral turpitude, gross partiality in office, oppression in office, or other grounds as specified by the legislature may be removed from office. Also, the Court on the Judiciary may imposed forced retirement may if the court finds the judge in question to be mentally or physically incapable to perform their job. No other penalties may be imposed by the Court on the Judiciary, however later charges may be levied by other courts.
There are nine judges that sit on the appellate division and nine other judges that sit on the trial division. Each judge is appointed by either the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the Oklahoma Bar Association, the Court of Criminal Appeals, or the Secretary of State.
On May 19, 2008, HALT a national advocacy organization that examines judicial discipline practices across the United States heavily criticized the State of Oklahoma for not being transparent enough on its judicial discipline process.
In a press release issued by HALT: "Oklahoma's system of judicial oversight is one of the most insular in the nation," stated by HALT Senior Counsel Suzanne M. Blonder, pointing to state rules that prohibit ordinary citizens from having any role in the judicial discipline decision-making process. Ms. Blonder points out to this criticism as Oklahoma does not allow any citizen members to serve on the Court on the Judiciary.
When HALT issued its findings, the national advocacy organization found that Oklahoma rules fail to place meaningful limitations on the reimbursement and compensation that judges may accept in connection with corporate and special interest funded trips and legal seminars funded on taxpayer dollars. "Oklahoma's laws unfortunately include massive loopholes that still allow members of the judiciary to be wined and dined on the corporate dime,," stated Ms. Blonder.
HALT also criticized Oklahoma as one of only nine states in the country that fails to offer a comprehensive web site dedicated to the judicial discipline process and telling who their members are which questions the transparency of their system. HALT also criticized the lack of transparency by mentioning that the web site for the Council on the Judiciary according to HALT, lacks contact information. "Without access to more detailed online information, it is difficult for citizens to understand how to file a complaint against a judge or how to determine whether a member of the judiciary has a history of misconduct," explained Ms. Blonder.