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State of Oklahoma

History of Reform Efforts: Oklahoma

Formal Changes Since Inception

Under Oklahoma's original constitution, judges of the supreme court were elected to six-year terms, and judges of the district court were elected by the people to four-year terms.

Authorized by the constitution of 1907, the criminal court of appeals was created. The name was changed to court of criminal appeals in 1959. Judges were elected by the people to six-year terms.

Following scandals involving three supreme court justices, voters approved two constitutional amendments that would insulate judicial selection from direct partisan politics. These amendments changed elections for district court judges from partisan to nonpartisan and established merit selection for the supreme court and court of criminal appeals. Interim vacancies on the district court would also be filled through merit selection.

Court of civil appeals established. Judges chosen in nonpartisan elections for six-year terms.

Selection method for judges of the court of civil appeals changed from nonpartisan election to merit selection.

Voters approved a ballot measure that allows the president pro tempore of the senate and the speaker of the house of representatives to each select one non-attorney member of the judicial nominating commission, and prohibits non-lawyer members of the commission from having attorneys in their family.