House pulls courts resolution out of committee, moves toward floor

Shawn Ashley, Quorum Call 

(QC) A resolution calling for a vote of the people on a constitutional amendment that would  recreate the state’s judiciary was pulled Tuesday out of the committee where it was not heard and  placed on the House calendar. 

SJR0043 , by Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Mark Lepak, R-Claremore,  was not heard by the House Rules Committee before the April 21 deadline for bills and joint  resolutions to be heard in a committee of the opposite chamber. 

The resolution proposes a vote of the people on a constitutional amendment that repeals Article 7  and Article 7-B, which created the Judicial Department and established the process for the  selection of justices and judges. It enacts a new Article 7-C that establishes a new court structure  modeled on the US Constitution under which the governor will appoint new appellate judges  subject to confirmation by the Senate. It requires appellate judges to stand for retention elections  every six years. It requires trial court judges be elected in the same manner as other county  officers. It requires each justice from a separate district of the state, and the judicial districts to  remain as presently constituted until otherwise provided by statute. 

The resolution received a do pass recommendation from the Senate Judiciary Committee and  was passed 38-10 by the full Senate.  

During the Senate’s consideration of the resolution, Treat said the courts need to be “more  reflective of Oklahomans.” 

“We have seen time and again the appellate courts of Oklahoma legislating from the bench,” he  said, adding, “This is an extremely important reform that I think most Oklahomans will support.” 

The resolution was assigned March 30 to the House Rules Committee, but it was never taken up.

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