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Joseph Watt

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Joseph Watt
Current Court Information:
Oklahoma Supreme Court
Title:   Justice
Salary:  $
Appointed by:   Gov. David Walters
Active:   1992-1/10/2021
Chief:   2003-2007
Past post:   Judge, Oklahoma District 3
Past term:   1986-1992
Past post 2:   Altus City Attorney
Past term 2:   1980-1985
Personal History
Born:   03/08/1947
Undergraduate:   Texas Tech University, 1969
Law School:   University of Texas Law School, 1972
Candidate 2014:
Candidate for:  Supreme Court
Position:  Retention
State:  Oklahoma
Election information 2014:
Incumbent:  Yes
Election date:  11/4/2014

Joseph M. Watt is a justice on the Oklahoma Supreme Court. He was appointed to the court by Democratic Governor David Walters on May 18, 1992. He was retained by voters in 1996, 2002 and 2008.[1] He was retained again in 2014 for a term that expires on January 10, 2021.[2]



See also: Oklahoma judicial elections, 2014
Watt ran for retention to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. The general election took place on November 4, 2014.[2]


Watt was retained with 63.7% of the vote.[1]


Watt received his undergraduate degree from Texas Tech University in 1969 and his J.D. from the University of Texas Law School in 1972.[3]


Awards and associations


  • Outstanding Law Student in the Nation, Delta Theta Phi upon his graduation from The University of Texas School of Law.[5]


  • Past Secretary and President, Altus Rotary Club[4]

In the news

Suit filed against Watt

In 2005, Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Marian P. Opala filed a suit in the Federal District Court in Oklahoma City against his eight colleagues for alleged age based discrimination.[6] In his suit, Opala said that at 83 years old he "enjoys good health and sound mental acuity" and that he was unfairly denied the prestige of being chief justice, including the "ceremonial duties" and slightly higher salary.

The Oklahoma Constitution allows members of the court to select their chief justice. Traditionally, the position of chief justice is rotated in two-year terms between justices who have served at least six years.[7] Opala, who joined the court in 1978, served as chief justice from 1991 to 1992. It was his turn to serve again starting in January 2005. However, in November the other justices decided to elect Chief Justice Watt to a second two-year term.[7] Opala called this “an unprecedented extension in the annals of Oklahoma judicial history."

In July 2006, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit dismissed Opala’s suit with prejudice.[7] Opala passed away on October 11, 2010 at the age of 89 after suffering from a stroke.[8][9]

Political ideology

See also: Political ideology of State Supreme Court Justices

In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan ideology of state supreme court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 are more liberal. Watt received a Campaign finance score (CFscore) of -0.4, indicating a liberal ideological leaning. This is more liberal than the average CF score of 0.33 that justices received in Oklahoma. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice, but an academic gauge of various factors.[10]

See also

External links


OklahomaOklahoma Supreme CourtOklahoma Court of Criminal AppealsOklahoma Court of Civil AppealsOklahoma District CourtsOklahoma Workers' Compensation CourtUnited States District Court for the Eastern District of OklahomaUnited States District Court for the Northern District of OklahomaUnited States District Court for the Western District of OklahomaUnited States bankruptcy court, Eastern District of OklahomaUnited States bankruptcy court, Northern District of OklahomaUnited States bankruptcy court, Western District of OklahomaUnited States Court of Appeals for the Tenth CircuitOklahoma countiesOklahoma judicial newsOklahoma judicial electionsJudicial selection in OklahomaOklahomaTemplate.jpg