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State of Oklahoma

Judicial Campaigns and Elections: Oklahoma

Campaign Oversight

Within ten days of announcing their candidacy and/or qualifying for election or reelection, judicial candidates are required to notify the administrative director of the courts. The administrative director distributes to all candidates copies of Canon 5 and all formal advisory opinions issued by the judicial ethics advisory panel that relate to campaign conduct. Candidates are expected to sign and return an acknowledgement form confirming that they have read and understand the materials and that they agree to be bound by the standards. Failure to do so constitutes a per se violation of Canon 5.

In 1998, the Oklahoma Supreme Court directed the Oklahoma Bar Association to establish a three-member Professional Responsibility Panel on Judicial Elections. The panel is responsible for dealing expeditiously with allegations of ethical misconduct in judicial campaigns. The panel consists of a lawyer who has been a member of the Oklahoma bar for at least 25 years, a member of the judicial ethics advisory panel, and a lay person. The panel investigates complaints involving violations of Canon 5 during the course of judicial campaigns. If the panel determines that speedy intervention is warranted, the panel may issue a confidential cease-and-desist request to the candidate or organization believed to be in violation of Canon 5. If the request is disregarded or the campaign practices continue, the panel may refer the matter to the general counsel of the Oklahoma Bar Association or the council on judicial complaints.