Four Supreme Court Justices on Retention Ballot

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Four Supreme Court Justices on Retention Ballot

Names of four Oklahoma Supreme Court justices will appear on the retention ballot in the Nov. 8 general election. They are Justice Marian P. Opala of Oklahoma City, Justice Yvonne Kauger of Colony, Justice Hardy Summers of Muskogee and Justice Joseph M. Watt of Altus. Marian P. Opala, whose judicial career began in 1977, has been serving as justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court since Nov. 21, 1978. He was chief justice from 1991 to 1993. Before his appointment to the bench, he practiced and taught law, served as Supreme Court referee (commissioner) and later as the administrative director of the courts.

Both his undergraduate and law degrees are from Oklahoma City University, his master's degree (in law) from New York University. The author of numerous legal papers, he is adjunct professor in three law schools _ at the University of Oklahoma, Tulsa University and Oklahoma City University _ and a frequent lecturer at various national judicial and legal education programs.

Since 1982 he has been an Oklahoma commissioner to the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and an elected member of the American Law Institute. In December he was appointed a member of the Administrative Conference of the United States. Yvonne Kauger is a fourth generation Oklahoman from Colony who was born in Cordell. She was appointed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court on May 22, 1984, by Gov. George Nigh. Kauger has served as presiding judge for the court on the judiciary, and on the Law School and Bench and Bar Committees of the Oklahoma Bar Association. She founded the Gallery of the Plains Indians in Colony and co-founded Red Earth.

She has acted as symposium coordinator for The Sovereignty Symposium, a seminar on Indian Law sponsored by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, since its inception in 1987. Justice Kauger was valedictorian of her high school class and graduated first in her class at OCU School of Law.

She was the featured speaker at the Twentieth William O. Douglas Lecture Series at Gonzaga University in November 1990, and has been named a distinguished alumnus by OCU and Southwestern Oklahoma State University. Justice Hardy Summers is from Muskogee. He was born there in 1933. His father, Cleon A. Summers, was a former United States attorney, and his uncle, E.A. Summers, was a longtime district judge. Justice Summers attended OU for both his bachelor's degree and law degree. In law school he was honored by being named note editor of the Oklahoma Law Review and admitted to the Order of the Coif.

After finishing law school in 1957, he served three years in the U.S. Air Force as a judge advocate. He then returned to Muskogee where for two years he was assistant county attorney.

In 1962 he joined the firm of Fite, Robinson and Summers and practiced law until 1976, when he was appointed district judge by Gov. David Boren. For the next eight years he was chief judge for Muskogee County, and also regularly held court in Wagoner, Cherokee, Sequoyah and Adair counties. In 1984 he was elected president of the Oklahoma Judicial Conference. …


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