McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

March 3, 2014

Judicial take on legislation: Enid lawyers speak on pending bills in Legislature

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Two Enid lawyers who have served on the Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission gave their take on Monday pending legislation that would affect judicial matters.

Doug Jackson and his associate, Glenn Devoll, have served on the Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission, which screens candidates to fill vacancies on the benches of district courts, workers’ compensation court, appeals courts and the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

One bill pending in the Legislature would require judges to retire according to a formula, Jackson said.

“If your years of service plus your age is over 80, you are required to retire,” Jackson said.

Another, Jackson said, would change the way judges are appointed to replace those who retire before their elected terms expire.

“Basically, what this law seeks to do is allow the governor to select the judges,” Jackson said.

Both men spoke Monday to Enid Rotary Club.

Devoll explained the way JNC reviews potential judges. Once the list of names has been reviewed and the commission decides who it chooses to interview, thorough background checks are done, Devoll said.

“Believe me, they don’t mess around,” Devoll said.

By the time the candidates are interviewed, commission members already know a lot about them.

“The interview process is completely open, and I mean you can ask anything you want,” Devoll said.

Finally, the commission submits three names to the governor for the final choice.

“I can tell you it’s not a political process,” Devoll said.

Members of JNC are not paid for their time. JNC is made up of 15 members: six lawyers and nine non-lawyers who are appointed. Rules limit the number of appointees from the same political party, Devoll said.

“I’m a firm believer that this process is more thorough and more complete than your or my vote could ever be,” Devoll told Rotarians.

Associate District Judge Tom Newby said the governor can select from the three names submitted by the commission or can reject them all, and the process begins again.