High Court Takes Action in OBA Suits

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The following are summaries of recent 10th Circuit and local opinions. Oklahoma Supreme Court

For the week ending Dec. 30, 1997 In the Matter of the Petition of University Hospitals Authority and University Hospitals Trust, No. 90,212. Long-term lease and transfer of University Hospitals property and other non-cash assets from the Authority to the Trust does not violate Oklahoma Constitution and Open Meeting and Records Acts. Public policy and ethics issues raised by protestants beyond purview of court, which "refuses to pass on the wisdom and business advisability of the transaction, or lack thereof." For the week ending Dec. 23, 1997 Jerry L. Colclazier, et al. vs. State of Oklahoma, ex rel. Oklahoma Indigent Defense System Board and Oklahoma Indigent Defense System, No. 85,926. Writ of mandamus was improper to correct abuse of discretion by a government agency, here OIDS board, in awarding contract, where contractual period had expired and services of the contract had been performed. Plaintiffs showed no clear legal right to relief sought under mandamus and their participation in the rotation system to receive contracts after lower court declared previous contracts void demonstrated an abandonment of claim. Elisa McMinn vs. The City of Oklahoma City, the Board of County Commissioners of Oklahoma County vs. Board of County Commissioners of Oklahoma County and Oklahoma City-County Health Department, No. 86,226. Estate of former City County Health Department employee was entitled to retirement benefits worker would have received had he been a city employee. Also, employee's estate was denied due process in court calculations of amount due. Finally, one division of the Court of Civil Appeals may not in essence overrule another division of that court on an issue that has become law of the case. Cynthia Cortright vs. The City of Oklahoma City, No. 88,539. Dismissal for untimeliness of plaintiff's action against city for sewage backup was premature after plaintiff's attorney wrote letter to city stating his understanding that claim would not be rejected as matter of law when attorney relied on city's assigned attorney/ intern assurances to extend date. State of Oklahoma, ex rel. Oklahoma Bar Association vs. Joseph O. Minter, No. SCBD 4429. Attorney suspended for three months and ordered to pay costs for grievances related to failure to perfect appeal. Attorney's due process rights not violated when previous private reprimands were used to enhance discipline imposed. Equal protection among rural and nonrural lawyers not violated in relation to current disciplinary process. Facially neutral law that does not discriminate based on a fundamental right or suspect classification will be upheld if rationally based. State of Oklahoma, ex rel. Oklahoma Bar Association vs. Robert D. Jones, No. SCBD #4307. Order approving resignation from Oklahoma Bar Association pending disciplinary proceedings and imposing costs for grievances related to excessive fees, improper withdrawal from case, and failure to communicate with client. Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals For the week ending Dec. 23, 1997 Lori S. Phillips vs. Darris L. Seffel and Pamela A. Seffel, No. 87,350. No prohibition exists against special judges in small claims court from making findings concerning title to real property or awarding relief in the amount sought unless the judge is a nonlawyer or unless the suit for recovery exceeds jurisdictional amount. Darrell G. Stonecipher and Rhonda Long vs. District Court of Pittsburg County, the Honorable Steven Taylor, District Judge, No. 87,898. Report of grand jury violated plaintiffs' rights of confrontation. However, because plaintiffs waited nearly a year to bring action, remedy was waived through laches. Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals For the week ending Dec. 23, 1997 Yancey Lyndell Douglas vs. State of Oklahoma, No. F-95-834. Douglas tried and convicted of one count of first degree murder, one count of shooting with intent to kill and sentenced to death for the murder and life imprisonment for shooting with intent to kill. …