Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals

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The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals is an intermediate appellate court in the state of Oklahoma. Cases are assigned to it by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the state's highest court for civil matters.[1]

The court consists of twelve judges divided into four panels with three judges each.[1] They are responsible for the majority of appellate decisions in Oklahoma.[2] Furthermore, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has the power to release the court's opinions for publication, in which case they have value as precedent.[2]

Two of the court's four panels are housed in Tulsa, Oklahoma.[3] The two Oklahoma City panels are housed in the Oklahoma State Capitol building.


The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals was established by the state legislature in 1970 under Title 20, section 30.1, of the Oklahoma Statutes, which provides: "There is hereby established an intermediate appellate court to be known as the Court of Civil Appeals of the State of Oklahoma which shall have the power to determine or otherwise dispose of any cases that are assigned to it by the Supreme Court." Any decision of the Court of Civil Appeals in any case assigned to it, upon petition by one of the parties involved, may be reviewed by the Oklahoma Supreme Court if a majority of its Justices direct that a petition for certiorari be granted, and the Supreme Court may, by order, recall a case from the Court of Civil Appeals.

Selection process[edit]

Appellate judges are appointed by the governor from a list of three candidates nominated by the Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission.[4] The commission is composed 6 attorneys who are "members of the Oklahoma Bar Association and who have been elected by the other active members of their district," 6 non-attorneys appointed by the governor, and 3 non-attorney "members at large," one to be selected by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, one to be selected by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and one to be selected by at least eight members of the commission itself.[4] Article 7B, section 3, of the Oklahoma Constitution sets forth the composition of the nominating commission in even greater detail.


Current judges[edit]

The Judges of the Court of Civil Appeals are:

Name District Division Duty station Date of appointment Appointed by Law School Birth City Length of service Previous positions Succeeded
Larry Joplin 4 1 Oklahoma City 1994 David Walters Oklahoma Oklahoma City, OK 25 years
Kenneth L. Buettner 5 1 Oklahoma City 1996 Frank Keating Southern Methodist Oklahoma City, OK 23 years
Robert D. Bell 5 1 Oklahoma City 2005 Brad Henry Tulsa Norman, OK 14 years Carl Jones
Deborah Barnes 2 2 Tulsa 2008 Brad Henry Oklahoma City Oklahoma City, OK 11 years
John F. Fischer 2 2 Tulsa 2007 Brad Henry Oklahoma Rush Springs, OK 11 years
Jane P. Wiseman 1 2 Tulsa 2005 Brad Henry Tulsa Tulsa, OK 14 years Joe C. Taylor
E. Bay Mitchell 6 3 Oklahoma City 2002 Frank Keating Oklahoma Enid, OK 17 years James P. Garrett
Barbara Swinton 4 3 Oklahoma City 2016 Mary Fallin Georgia State Oklahoma City, OK 3 years William Hetherington
Brian Jack Goree 6 3 Oklahoma City 2012 Mary Fallin Tulsa Killeen, Texas 7 years Carol M. Hansen
P. Thomas Thornbrugh 3 4 Tulsa 2011 Mary Fallin Oklahoma City Oklahoma City, OK 8 years
W. Keith Rapp 3 4 Tulsa 1984 George Nigh Tulsa Wheelersburg, OH 35 years
Vacant[5] 1 4 Tulsa Jerry L. Goodman

Timeline of justices[edit]

Beginning in 1987, seats on the Court of Civil Appeals are filled by non-partisan appointment by the Governor of Oklahoma upon nomination by the Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission. Judges serve until the next general election following their appointment at which they are retained or rejected. If retained, they serve for an additional six-years until the next retention election.

Note: The blue vertical line denotes "now" (November 2019).
Bar key:        Democrat appointee  •        Republican appointee


  1. ^ a b [1], Stephens, Jerry E.,"Judiciary." Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. May 31, 2010.] Accessed May 2, 2018
  2. ^ a b Oklahoma Bar Association, "Judges and Courts" (accessed June 23, 2010).
  3. ^ Oklahoma Supreme Court Network, "The Supreme Court of Oklahoma," p. 3 (accessed June 23, 2010).
  4. ^ a b Oklahoma Supreme Court Network, "The Supreme Court of Oklahoma," p. 5 (accessed June 23, 2010).
  5. ^ Oklahoma Supreme Court Network, "Court of Civil Appeals" (accessed October 24, 2019).

External links[edit]