This is the best editorial for Oklahomans by Oklahomans.

Court of Civil Appeals

justin brotton - Monday, October 01, 2012

The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals provides all parties of a court case with the means to approach their own settlement and enforce it through the court. Compared to the more rigid standards of the Supreme Court or the Criminal Appeals Court, the Civil Appeals Court’s fluid system of judiciary resolve promises the possibility of a swift settlement. The Supreme Court directs court cases and appeals to the Civil Appeals Court, which handles and resolves the case.

The four statewide Courts of Civil Appeal in Oklahoma mitigate the workload of the Supreme Court system by providing a wider means of resolution (through settlement between parties). Two of the courts were established in Tulsa, and two others were established in Oklahoma City. Three judges are appointed at each of the Courts of Civil Appeal. The chief judge is Robert D. Bell, and the vice-chief judge is John Fischer. Any decisions made between judges can also be overturned if two of the three judges of a court decide against the resolution of a specific issue. To befuddle the settlement process slightly further, the Supreme Court can – at any point – overturn the decision of a Court of Civil Appeals.

Nonetheless, the just system of the Court of Civil Appeals is one to be admired: not only does the court ensure that you are heard, but also allows you to reach a settlement with the other party and decide upon the outcome in court. Paired with the strength of the Supreme Court and the concrete nature of the Court of Criminal Appeals, the Court of Civil Appeals provides for a standardized, efficient judiciary system.

Court of Criminal Appeals

justin brotton - Monday, October 01, 2012

Oklahoma’s Court of Criminal Appeals serves to determine the outcome of court cases where the convicted defendant undoubtedly committed a crime. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals determines the punishment administered per severity of a crime, so the duties of the judge in a Criminal Appeals Court are often riddled with dilemmas. A sense of justice is an absolute must for the Court of Criminal Appeals. Cases presented to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals come directly from district courts.

Presiding over Oklahoma’s Court of Criminal Appeals is Arlene Johnson. Presiding Judge Johnson serves in District 4 (Woodward area), but congregates with the other judges at the state capitol. Her vice-presiding judge is David B. Lewis, who serves in District 5 (Norman southward). Other judges for the Court of Criminal Appeals include: Gary L. Lumpkin, District 3 (Oklahoma City area), Clancy Smith, District 1 (Bartlesville area) and Charles A. Johnson, District 2 (McAlester and La Flore area).

In January, the Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission will consider a new selection of judges for election. The judges that re-apply for election stand an excellent chance of winning, as the Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission hasn’t failed to nominate a re-applicant for the Criminal Appeal position since Oklahoma became a state.

Small Claims Court

justin brotton - Monday, October 01, 2012

For court claims and cases concerning issues such as debts, minor breaches of contract or insurance disputes, small claims courts in Oklahoma provide a low-cost means to resolve legal conflicts. No jury attends these court cases, and the involved parties present their cases to the magistrate judge to be considered for resolution. If the magistrate judge and the involved parties cannot decide on a lawful resolution, the parties are entitled to establish a trial de novo, or a secondary trial based on refreshed information.

The appearance of The People’s Court or Judge Judy on television sparked a point of interest in small claims courts, but these televised small claims are proposed methods of resolve, not courts of law. Nonetheless, they make a strong effort to abide by the same general principles of a small claims court. If you imagine Judge Judy without the audience, then you essentially know exactly how a small claims court operates. Conflicts over high-cost claims such as land titles or unlawful prosecution are never discussed in small claims courts, and court cases where large sums of money are at stake never see the floor of a small claims court. Those issues go straight to one of the Appellate (Supreme, Civil or Criminal) Courts.

Supreme Court

justin brotton - Monday, October 01, 2012

Our judiciary system upholds the most rigid sense of justice. From the Supreme Court downward, a sense of unbiased obligation and reasoning define the decisions of our court system. Of course, the Oklahoma Supreme Court dictates the policies of Oklahoma’s other appellate courts, creating the uniform sense of justice that we anticipate in the courtroom. After nomination by the Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission, the governor swears in each and every justice that presides over a Supreme Court. If any one of the court systems in Oklahoma influences the style and sway of the overall judiciary system, that court system is the Supreme Court.

Oklahoma’s Supreme Court system functions as one of the highest judicial powers in the state. Because of the Supreme Court’s position, courts cannot refer it new cases. Often, Oklahoma Supreme Courts review state laws for constitutional contradictions. Unlike the United States Supreme Court, the Oklahoma Supreme Court only handles state-specific cases, and delegates other cases to the criminal and civil courts.

The justices presiding over the sectioned Supreme Courts judge in the state sections as follows: John F. Reif, Section 1 (Bartlesville area); Steven W. Taylor, Section 2 (McAlester to La Flore County); Noma Gurich, Section 3 (Oklahoma City area); Yvonne J. Kauger, Section 4 (Northwestern area, Woodward); James R. Winchester, Section 5 (Norman to Ardmore); Tom J. Colbert, Section 6 (Tulsa area); James E. Edmondson, Section 7 (Okmulgee to Salisaw); Douglas L. Combs, Section 8 (Stillwater to Ada, the area East of Oklahoma City and West of Tulsa); and Joseph M. Matt, Section 9, (Southwestern area of Oklahoma).

The Supreme Court also checks Oklahoma Law for Constitutional consistencies. Recently, the Supreme Court delved into issues such as personhood and healthcare. Alongside discussing state laws, the Supreme Court also swears in a number of public officials and determines the outcome of a large number of court cases.

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