United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma
The United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma is one of ninety-four United States district courts. When decisions of the court are appealed, they are appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals based in downtown Denver at the Byron White Federal Courthouse.
Vacancy warning level
There are no pending nominations for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma.
Article III judges
|Judge James Payne||1941||Lubbock, TX||W. Bush||10/24/2001 - Present||2002 - Present (EOK)||Billy Burrage||University of Oklahoma, B.S., 1963||University of Oklahoma Law, J.D., 1966|
|Judge Claire Eagan||1950||Bronx, NY||W. Bush||10/24/2001-Present||2005-2012||Thomas R. Brett||Trinity College, 1972||Fordham Law School, 1976|
|Chief Judge Gregory Frizzell||1956||Kansas||W. Bush||2/2/2007 - Present||3/14/2012 - Present||Sven Holmes||University of Tulsa, B.A., 1981||University of Michigan Law, J.D., 1984|
|Judge John Dowdell||1955||Tulsa, OK||Obama||12/11/2012-Present||Terence Kern||Wake Forest U., B.A., 1978||University of Tulsa Law, J.D., 1981|
|Senior judge Terence Kern||Clinton||6/9/1994 - 1/4/2010||1996 - 2003||1/4/2010 - Present||Oklahoma State University, 1966||University of Oklahoma Law School, 1969|
|Senior judge James Ellison||Carter||11/2/1979 - 11/7/1994||1992 - 1994||11/7/1994 - Present||University of Oklahoma, 1951||University of Oklahoma Law, 1951|
|Magistrate Judge Frank McCarthy|
|Magistrate Judge Paul Cleary||7/2002 - Present||Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 1971||University of Tulsa College of Law, 1981|
|Magistrate Judge Lane Wilson||01/02/2009 - Present|
The Northern District of Oklahoma has original jurisdiction over cases filed within its jurisdiction. These cases can include civil and criminal matters that fall under federal law.
|Federal Court Caseload Statistics*|
|Year||Starting case load:||Cases filed:||Total cases:||Cases terminated:||Remaining cases:||Median time(Criminal)**:||Median time(Civil)**:||3 Year Civil cases#:||Vacant posts:##||Trials/Post|
|*All statistics are taken from the Official Federal Courts' Website and reflect the calendar year through September. **Time in months from filing to completion.|
#This statistic includes cases which have been appealed in higher courts. ##This is the total number of months that any judicial posts had spent vacant that year.
For a searchable list of opinions, please see Opinions for the Northern District of Oklahoma.
| • Same-sex marriage ban ruled unconstitutional (2014)|
Judge(s):Terence Kern (Bishop v. United States, 4:04-cv-00848-TCK-TLW)
|Click for summary→|
|On January 14, 2014, Judge Terence Kern struck down State Question No. 711, Oklahoma's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, issuing a stay on his ruling pending the resolution of any appeal filed. In the underlying case, two lesbian couples filed suit in November 2004, challenging both the Oklahoma constitutional amendment which prohibited gay couples from being married, as well as the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). A trial in the Bishop case was originally scheduled for May 2012, but the matter was delayed while landmark gay marriage cases, including United States v. Windsor, were ongoing. In the Windsor case, the Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of DOMA, where marriage was defined as between one man and one woman, was unconstitutional. Accordingly, Kern's opinion fully addressed only Oklahoma's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, noting that the provision of DOMA the plaintiffs sought to invalidate had "already been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court." In striking down Oklahoma's ban on gay marriage, Kern observed that it conflicted with the plaintiffs' constitutional rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, describing the law as "an arbitrary, irrational exclusion of just one class of Oklahoma citizens from a governmental benefit." Kern issued a stay of his opinion pending the resolution of any state government appeal to the Tenth Circuit. An appeal was filed on January 16, 2014, two days after Kern released his opinion.|
Federal courts in Oklahoma were established by Congress on June 16, 1906, with one post each for the Western and the Eastern districts. The Northern District of Oklahoma was established on February 16, 1925, with one post separated from the Eastern District of Oklahoma. Over time, three additional judicial posts were added for a total of four current posts.
The following table highlights the development of judicial posts for the Northern District of Oklahoma:
|February 16, 1925||43 Stat. 945||1|
|February 16, 1925||43 Stat. 945||1|
|June 22, 1936||49 Stat. 1804||2(1 Shared for 3 Districts)|
|May 19, 1961||75 Stat. 80||3(2 Shared for 3 Districts)|
|October 20, 1978||92 Stat. 1629||4(2 Shared for 3 Districts)|
|December 1, 1990||104 Stat. 5089||4(1 Shared for 3 Districts)|
Former chief judges
In order to qualify for the office of chief judge in one of the federal courts, a judge must have been in active service on the court for at least one year, be under the age of 65, and have not previously served as chief judge. A vacancy in the office of chief judge is filled by the judge highest in seniority among the group of qualified judges. The chief judge serves for a term of seven years or until age 70, whichever occurs first. The age restrictions are waived if no members of the court would otherwise be qualified for the position. Unlike the Chief Justice of the United States, a chief judge returns to active service after the expiration of his or her term and does not create a vacancy on the bench by the fact of his or her promotion.
For more information on judges of the Northern District of Oklahoma, see former federal judges of the Northern District of Oklahoma.
- United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
- News: Federal Courts, Empty Benches:The Wednesday Vacancy Count 3/7/2012, March 7, 2012
- United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma Official Website
- United States Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma Official Website
- Opinions for the Northern District of Oklahoma
- Judges for the Northern District of Oklahoma
- Offices of the United States Attorneys, Official list
- NPR, "Federal Judge Strikes Down Oklahoma Ban On Gay Marriage," January 14, 2014
- Tulsa World, "Oklahoma gay marriage ban ruled unconstitutional," January 15, 2014
- Associated Press, "Okla. Gay Marriage Ban Struck Down; Ruling on Hold," January 15, 2014
- Tulsa World, "Appeal filed in Oklahoma same-sex marriage ruling," January 16, 2014
- History of the Districts of Oklahoma on the Federal Judicial Center website
- United States Courts, Frequently Asked Questions
- United States Courts, "On Being Chief Judge," February 2009
Frank McCarthy • Paul Cleary • Lane Wilson •
|Former Article III judges||
|Former Chief judges|