Judicial Panel Grades Appellate Judges High
Leigh Jones Journal Record Reporter, THE JOURNAL RECORD
In sharp contrast to a judicial report card issued by a pro- business special interest group, Oklahoma's appellate judges made the honor roll according to an evaluation commission created by the state's high court.
The Oklahoma Judicial Evaluation Commission, established through an order issued in December by Chief Justice Yvonne Kauger, has given nine appellate judges up for retention an overall grade of A. Only one judge -- Supreme Court Justice Rudolph Hargrave -- received a B in any category. Hargrave garnered the B for the "legal ability" criterion of evaluation.
The judges included in the survey were Supreme Court Justices Ralph B. Hodges, Alma Wilson and Hargrave; Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals Judges Joe Taylor, Ronald J. Stubblefield, Glenn D. Adams, Larry Joplin and Kenneth L. Buettner; and Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Charles S. Chapel. The commission sent out about 1,800 questionnaires to attorneys who had cases decided by the judges within the past 12 months. The survey asked attorneys to grade the judges based on 13 traits including legal ability, integrity, communication skills, judicial temperament and administrative performance. With a 47 percent response rate, the survey also asked if the judges should be retained. Chapel received the highest retention score of 93 percent and Wilson received the lowest retention score of 73 percent. But the judges' stellar performance was a vast improvement over their ratings in an April study conducted by Oklahomans for Judicial Excellence. According to those results, which ranked judges based upon their rulings that had a "favorable economic impact" on the state, the highest overall grade was an 86 percent received by Buettner. Wilson received the lowest score at 39 percent, while Hargrave made the second highest grade of 69 percent. …