Oklahoma Bar Association Helps Citizens Judge the Judges
The Oklahoma Bar Association is giving voters a wealth of information on local judges and justices before they decide whether to keep them on November 6.
With so many news articles, facts, records, and analyses flying about during the election season, wouldn’t it be nice to have someplace to go to view it all? And what if that someplace was nonpartisan, presented nothing but facts, and allowed voters to make up their own minds?
That’s exactly what the Oklahoma Bar Association (OBA) is aiming for with CourtFacts.org, a website designed to help voters navigate the state’s merit retention process for judges. Although judges in the state are appointed by the governor based on recommendations from a nominating commission, their performance is judged every six years by voters who decide whether they stay on the bench.
OBA maintains a nonpartisan stance, and the goal of the website is to educate voters leading up to the November 6 election. This aligns with the organization’s goal of providing public education about the judicial system.
“When it comes to education, I think putting everything in one easy-to-read portal helps a lot,” said Cathy Christensen, president of OBA. “It was my desire to create a website that would educate the public and help voters…meet the judges and justices up for election and just get to know a little bit about how the system works.”
The website gives users access to detailed biographies of the four Oklahoma Supreme Court justices and seven appellate court judges who are on the retention ballot this year, as well as fact sheets, court cases, and the jurists’ written legal opinions.
“The role of public education is to make information readily accessible to those who you wish to educate, to help people to understand your organization,” said Christensen. The website will “help Oklahomans understand their justice system.”
After the election, OBA plans to continue to use the site as an educational outreach tool, she said.