James H. Payne

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James Hardy Payne
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma
In office
2002–2017
Preceded by Michael Burrage
Succeeded by Ronald A. White
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma
Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma
Assumed office
October 24, 2001
Appointed by George W. Bush
Preceded by Michael Burrage
Personal details
Born James Hardy Payne
1941 (age 75–76)
Lubbock, Texas
Education University of Oklahoma B.S.
University of Oklahoma College of Law J.D.

James Hardy Payne (born 1941 in Lubbock, Texas) is a United States District Judge sitting simultaneously on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma and the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. In addition, he is a former nominee to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

Background[edit]

Payne received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1963. In 1966, he graduated from the University of Oklahoma College of Law with a Juris Doctor. From 1966 until 1970, he was on active duty in the United States Air Force. He continued as an Air Force reservist from 1975 until 1992.

From 1970 until 1973, he was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma. In 1973, he entered private practice as lawyer for the firm of Sandlin and Payne. He remained in that position until 1988 when he became a United States Magistrate Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma.

On September 4, 2001, President George W. Bush nominated Payne to a seat simultaneously serving on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma and the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. The seat had been vacated by Judge Michael Burrage, who had resigned on March 1, 2001. Payne was confirmed on October 23, 2001, and received his commission the next day. Despite being jointly appointed to all three districts, Payne does not maintain chambers and does not hear cases in the Western District of Oklahoma.

Judge Payne served as Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma from 2002 to 2017.

Tenth Circuit nomination under Bush[edit]

On September 25, 2005, President Bush nominated Judge Payne to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit vacated by Judge Stephanie Kulp Seymour, who took senior status on October 16, 2005.

On January 23, 2006, the liberal online magazine Salon.com published an article offering evidence that Judge Payne had issued more than 100 orders in at least 18 cases that involved corporations in which he owned stock. The article claimed that Payne had not followed federal law and the official Code of Conduct for U.S. judges, which explicitly prohibit judges from sitting on cases involving companies in which they own stock—no matter how small their holdings—in order to uphold the integrity of the judicial system.

As a result of the article, the American Bar Association on February 21 re-evaluated Judge Payne's nomination and downgraded their original judicial rating of Judge Payne from "well qualified" to "qualified".

Since the allegations concerning financial conflicts of interest created the appearance of "extraordinary circumstances" which would have prevented his confirmation under the terms of the Gang of 14 Deal, Judge Payne withdrew his nomination on March 8, 2008.[1] On May 4, 2006, President Bush nominated Jerome A. Holmes to replace Payne. Holmes was confirmed less than three months later

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Legal offices
Preceded by
Michael Burrage
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma
Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma

2001–present
Incumbent
Preceded by
Michael Burrage
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma
2002–2017
Succeeded by
Ronald A. White