Tulsa County Has a New Administrative Assignment of Special Judges
Video Transcribed: Is your Tulsa County case getting a new judge? I’m Tulsa criminal defense attorney James Wirth and we’re talking about the new administrative assignment of special judges in Tulsa County.
So every so often the presiding district judge in Tulsa County decides to rotate the special judges and move them on different dockets. Some of the reasoning for that is to keep them fresh and engaged, not getting burned out on a particular docket, and also to have them well-rounded and learning a lot of different practice areas.
So that’s the reasoning that they give for that. In my personal opinion, I think it’s more problematic than it is beneficial because these judges have been on these cases and it can be difficult getting a new judge because there could be a hearing that’s already half done, and then we’ve got the other half to go, you can’t switch judges in the middle of a hearing. So there are people running around to get to different hearings on that.
Also, it can be that they’ve heard a lot of the background on this case and they remember the orders that they entered and that retention to that specific information is not going to be held by the subsequent judge that may be re-evaluating anything outside of the record.
So it can be difficult for a practitioner when we have cases that go from the judge, to judge, to judge, but nonetheless, that is the standard practice in Tulsa County, every certain number of months there is additional rotation. And the presiding judge, we just got Administrative Order 20 of 2020 from Presiding Judge William LaFortune that has some reassignments. So does this affect you? You’re going to want to listen to this list to find out. So just kind of go through it and then if you hear your judge’s name, then that means that they’re moving dockets.
That means that they’re likely going to be off your case and go to another one. That said, during these reassignments a few cases the judge may retain, that’s very rare but it does happen depending on the specifics of that case. If it’s in the middle of a trial or a hearing, they may retain it, there may be other reasons as well. But for the most part, if they’re being moved, they’re being moved off your case.
So Special Judge Maryann Godsby is going to be assigned to the criminal division, to the domestic violence misdemeanor docket replacing Judge Julie Doss. Judge Julie Doss is reassigned to the family division to the protective order docket replacing Judge Hiddle.
That one I think is unfortunate, Judge Hiddle has actually done a pretty good job on that docket. That’s always a tough docket to be on, we feel the judges on that always seem to err on the side of caution and granting protective orders because they don’t want to be the judge that’s in the news the next day for denying one.
Which I think is a huge due process issue for defendants on that docket. But I think Judge Hiddle has done a pretty good job balancing those better than some of the judges that we’ve seen in the past. So at least me personally, I’m sad to see him go off that docket.
Judge Hiddle then is going to be reassigned to the family division docket replacing Judge Tony Miller. So if you’ve got a case on a family law docket F and Tulsa County you’re getting a new judge. Tony Miller then is reassigned to the criminal division to handle the non-domestic misdemeanors, replacing Judge Ann Keele. Ann Keele is reassigned to the family division, doesn’t say specifically which docket there.
And then Judge Rodney Sparkman is reassigned to the family division. So I believe he’s leaving juvenile court and going to handle the family division. He’s been on those dockets previously, has lots of experience doing that.
Then Special Judge Kevin Morrison is reassigned to the juvenile division. And he is currently on the family domestic docket so if you have a case assigned to Judge Morrison, he’s going to be leaving because not only is that a different docket, that’s a different building.
So it’d be very difficult for him to retain cases going back and forth there. That’s one that I’m actually happy about. Judge Kevin Morrison has a lot of experience in juvenile court, he’s been a referee judge previously but he was an attorney appointed to represent minor children in juvenile court for a long time.
Very smart in understanding how the juvenile system works, which is very different than a lot of the other dockets because it has very specialized laws there. So I think that’s probably a good assignment that’ll work well for people on those dockets.
So if any of these affect you, if you have questions about how it may affect you to have these judges rotated, you’re going to want to talk to an attorney about your specifics. You want to do that, you can go to makelaweasy.com.