Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Governor Henry Not Likely to Name Sixth Justice

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Governor Henry Not Likely to Name Sixth Justice

Article excerpt

While it's almost a certainty that Democratic Gov. Brad Henry will name a fifth justice to the state Supreme Court, it's unlikely the governor will get the chance to choose a sixth.

Time, it seems, is running out.

With the unexpected death of Justice Marian Opala last week, speculation developed that Henry would have an opportunity to name yet another justice to the state's highest court. Speaking to media representatives following Opala's funeral on Monday, Henry said he wasn't sure if there was enough time left for him to appoint a replacement for Opala.

"There's a process that the law requires that includes publicizing the position and things like that," Henry said. "And I'm not sure if that would leave enough time to make an appointment before January."

In September, following the announcement by Justice Rudolph Hargrave that he would retire, Henry's spokesman, Paul Sund, confirmed the governor would appoint Hargrave's replacement. Since that time, the state's Judicial Nominating Commission has received applications from seven attorneys for Hargrave's post.

Those applicants include former state Sen. Mary Bernice Shedrick from Stillwater; J. Douglas Gabbard II from Colgate, a judge on the Court of Civil Appeals; Douglas Combs, a Shawnee resident who serves as district judge in Pottawatomie County; Danny Allen, an associate district judge for Noble County; Alison Cave, an Edmond attorney; Martha Kilgore, an associate district judge in Pontotoc County; and Tracy Morgan, a Stillwater attorney.

Members of the JNC said they plan to give a list of names to Henry by the end of October. At that point, Henry has 60 days to name a replacement for Hargrave.

And while Henry's chance to name a fifth court justice is considered historic by many, political experts say that appointment could also have a profound impact on Oklahoma politics. …

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