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Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission, What's That?

The Judicial Nominating Commission is a body of the Judicial Department tasked with selecting appellate judicial nominees for gubernatorial appointment. The Judicial Nominating Commission was created in 1967 following the bribery scandals of the Oklahoma Supreme Court during the 1960s. The purpose of the commission was to create a nonpartisan body to select judicial nominees based on merit, rather than leaving appellate judicial selection up to a general election.

The body is made up of 15 members. Six of these members are attorneys selected by the bar of each of the six congressional districts of 1967. Six more are non-attorneys appointed by the Governor. Of these six, at most three can be affiliated with a political party, and none can have an attorney in their immediate family. These twelve members serve six-year, staggered terms. The remaining three are appointed as follows: one by the Senate President Pro Tempore, one by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and one by the other members of the Judicial Nominating Commission. Of these three, no more than two can be affiliated with the same political party. These three “at-large” members serve two-year terms. This 15-member body then selects a chair.

Because the Judicial Nominating Commission is intended to act as a nonpartisan body, members cannot succeed themselves after their term, hold public office, hold positions of leadership in political parties, or become judicial officers until five years have passed since their term limit.

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