|Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court|
January 4, 2013 – January 3, 2015
|Preceded by||Steven W. Taylor|
|Succeeded by||John F. Reif|
|Associate Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court|
October 7, 2004
|Appointed by||Brad Henry|
December 30, 1949 |
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
|Alma mater||Eastern Oklahoma State College
Kentucky State University
University of Oklahoma
Tom Colbert (born December 30, 1949) is an Associate Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court. He was appointed to the Court's District 6 seat in 2004, by Governor Brad Henry, becoming the first African-American to serve on this court. On January 4, 2013, he was sworn in as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, replacing the former Chief Justice Steven Taylor and served as Chief Justice until January 2015.
Colbert was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and graduated from high school in Sapulpa, Oklahoma. His educational background includes an associate degree from Eastern Oklahoma State College, and a B.S. degree from Kentucky State University in 1973. After completing his enlistment, he enrolled in Eastern Kentucky University, where he earned a Master's degree in Education, then moved to Chicago to begin teaching in the public schools.
He soon moved back to Oklahoma, where he entered Oklahoma University School of Law, and earned and a J.D. degree in 1982. He then was hired as assistant dean at Marquette University Law School, where he worked until 1984.
Career in law
In between his attendance at EKU and OU, he served in the Criminal Investigation Division of the United States Army. Following graduation from law school in 1982, he moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to accept the post of Assistant Dean of the Law School at Marquette University, serving until 1984. Returning to Oklahoma in the same year, he was appointed as an Assistant District Attorney in Oklahoma County, serving in that capacity until 1986. He entered a private law practice in Oklahoma City in 1986. Over the next decade, he alternated between private practice and service as an attorney with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. From 1999 to 2004, he served as a Judge on the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals and was the first African-American to serve on that Court.[a] Colbert briefly served as Chief Judge of the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals in 2004, then was appointed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court District 6 seat in 2004, by Governor Brad Henry, becoming the first African-American to serve on this court. On January 4, 2013, he was sworn in as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, replacing the former Chief Justice Steven Taylor.
- Tom Colbert was recognized by the OU School of Law as a Distinguished Alumnus at its March 2016 Order of the Owl Hall of Fame annual ceremony.
Very little has been published about Tom Colbert's personal life. One source revealed that he has a wife and three children. Another said that he was raised by a single mother.
During his swearing-in ceremony as Chief Justice, Colbert told the assembled visitors and guests that he had once considered resigning from the Oklahoma Supreme Court to pursue a more remunerative career as a private lawyer. He said that his wife and mother talked him out of the idea, saying that he would be letting down so many other people who had made sacrifices so that he could attain such an influential position.
- McNutt, Michael. "Oklahoma's first black chief justice stresses importance of role models." The Oklahoman. January 24, 2013. Accessed January 9, 2017.
- "Justice Tom Colbert, District No. 6." The Supreme Court of the State of Oklahoma. Official Biography. Accessed January 9, 2017.
- "Tom Colbert and David B. Lewis: Shaping History Through Judicial Service." OU College of Law Blog. February 11, 2013. Accessed January 10, 2017.
- McGuigan, Patrick. "Tom Colbert becomes chief justice of Oklahoma state Supreme Court." City-Sentinel January 8, 2013. Accessed January 12, 2017
- Hoberock, Barbara. "Tom Colbert becomes Oklahoma Supreme Court's first black chief justice." Tulsa World. January 5, 2013. Accessed January 10, 2017.
- "Four OU Law alumni inducted into Hall of Fame." okcFriday March 25, 2016. Accessed January 9, 2017.
- "Tom Colbert's Biography." Vote Smart. Accessed January 10, 2017.