Eight state appellate judges will be on the Nov. 3 general election ballot.
All are on a nonpartisan retention ballot, meaning voters get a yes-no vote on whether to retain the judges or not.
Some appellate judges represent particular districts, but are all elected by all the voters of Oklahoma.
If a judge is not retained, the Judicial Nominating Committee will vet potential replacements for Gov. Kevin Stitt to appoint, but it’s important to point out that no judge has ever lost a retention contest.
Judicial elections are often the most difficult to voters because the work of judges is not political in nature. Judges don’t campaign in the sense that most of us understand that word. They don’t promise to shape the way they will do their job according to what they think the voters want. Their promise is to follow the law.
That is appropriate for obvious reasons.
The standard for judicial retention isn’t whether the judges on the ballot have decided issues according to the winds of popular opinion, but, rather, if they have followed the law.
In our opinion, the candidates on the retention ballot meet the that standard and should be retained.
They have maintained their judicial decorum, given fair hearings to the cases before them and made their decisions on the basis of the appropriate means. They haven’t always agreed with each other — which is good — but they’ve kept their disagreements within the appropriate boundaries. In short, they have behaved as judges should, and they should be reelected.
There have been decisions from Oklahoma appellate courts that we wish had gone a different way, including decisions involving some of the candidates standing for reelection.
But judicial elections aren’t and shouldn’t be about voting for candidates who will decide things the way any particular constituency wishes it should be.
We believe the judges on November’s ballot have made their decisions fairly and appropriately.
Oklahoma’s system for selecting and retaining judges has worked well for decades. It has kept the state’s judiciary free of scandal, and, so far, free of politics. We are thankful for both outcomes.
On the Nov. 3 ballot are:
Oklahoma Supreme Court Justices John Kane IV, Tom Colbert and Richard B. Darby;
Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals Judges Robert L. Hudson and Gary Lumpkin;
Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals Judges Jane P. Wiseman, Deborah B. Barnes and Kenneth Rapp.
We endorse all for retention.
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