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Marian Opala

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Marian Opala
January 20, 1921
Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice
Assumed office
State Industrial Court Judge
Dates of service

Marian P. Opala (1921-2010) is a former justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court. He was appointed to the bench by Former Governor Boren, a Democrat, on November 21, 1978. He was retained in 1980, 1982, 1988, 1994, 2000, and 2006.[1] He passed away on October 11, 2010 at the age of 89, after suffering from a stroke.[2][3]


Opala earned his J.D. in 1953 and his B.S.B. in Economics in 1957, both from Oklahoma City University. He received a Masters of Law degree from New York University in 1968.[4]


After receiving his law degree, Opala was an assistant county attorney in Oklahoma County, Oklahoma. In 1956, he went into private practice. From there, he was a referee on the Oklahoma Supreme Court from 1960 to 1965. He spent four years as a staff attorney for Justice Rooney McInerney, until he became the first administrative director for the state court system. After spending nine years in this position, he became a judge on the State Industrial Court (now the Workers' Compensation Court). Opala was appointed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court in 1978. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City University and the University of Tulsa.[5]

Awards and associations

  • 1982-present Oklahoma commissioner, National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws
  • Member, Order of the Coif
  • Member, American Law Institute
  • 1993 Appointed public member, Administrative Conference of the United States[5]

Files age bias lawsuit

In January, 2005, Opala, then 83 years old, and in line once again to become Chief Justice, filed a federal lawsuit against his colleagues, alleging that they changed Oklahoma Supreme Court rules for succession to chief justice thereby arbitrarily allowing Chief Justice Joseph M. Watt to serve unprecedented consecutive terms. In July, 2006, a federal appeals court dismissed Opala's lawsuit "with prejudice." "My colleagues," Justice Opala explained in a telephone interview, "cannot do to me what they would not permit a corporate employer to do."[6]

Attorney General Drew Edmondson asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit in which Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Marian P. Opala accused fellow justices of discrimination.[7] Edmondson's motion, filed in U.S. District Court, states that Opala does not have a "federal case" against his colleagues and that even if he did, state Supreme Court justices have legal immunity from Opala's lawsuit. "In short, Justice Opala has no federal claim, and his 'federal case' should be dismissed," a brief filed in support of the motion states. Edmondson's office represents Chief Justice Joseph Watt and the seven other justices Opala sued.[6]

See also

External links