The Court in the Last Decade Has Been Very Conservative in Its Decisions
Video Transcribed: Should Oklahoman’s be concerned that Judge Kuehn has been appointed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court? I’m an attorney in Oklahoma James Wirth, and that is the topic for today. Governor Stitt on July 27th, 2021 appointed Judge Kuehn to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. There have been lots of good statements made about Judge Kuehn, people are very happy about this decision.
But should Oklahoman’s be concerned, I think they should be concerned. And why should they be concerned? It’s not because she’s going it’s because of where she’s leaving. She has been the voice of reason on the Oklahoma court of criminal appeals since 2017 when she was on there.
The court in the last decade or so has been very conservative in its decisions. They have walked back protections for Oklahomans and favored bending over backward in some circumstances to save the conviction for the state.
But in the process made a precedent that can be used against other defenses that makes it more likely that justice will not be done and that people potentially could be wrongfully imprisoned and that Oklahoma’s incarceration rate could increase, even though it’s already pretty much the highest and second highest in the nation.
So we’ve seen many dissents from Judge Kuehn over the last few years, particularly on issues regarding juvenile defendant’s rights and debtor imprisonment, where people are getting locked up for not paying their court fines. They’re being revoked from their sentences. In some circumstances, they may not even be able to afford to pay it.
And the court, the majority has overlooked those issues quite a bit. Judge Kuehn has been one to be consistent in her descent noting that if you’re going to throw somebody in jail on an application to revoke, you need to have a hearing and prove that they had the ability to pay those fines that they’re being revoked for not paying. That’s just one example.
I mean, just in the last week, there’s been an example where the court has severely undermine the rights of a child to be free from interrogation, by police without a parent present. And she had an excellent descent in that case where she noted that the majority opinion… And I’ll just read it verbatim.
So essentially in this, the majority redefined the word charged to not only mean charged like criminal charges have been filed, but also to mean when a police officer thinks that a charge will be filed. So completely redefined the term, for what purpose? To save one conviction.
But because of that and wanting to save this one conviction, we now have a precedent that’s published opinion that means that kids can be interrogated without a parent present if they’re being interrogated on the right crime, even if charges aren’t filed for that crime in the future.
So that’s just one example where we’ve seen good decisions that really follow the law clearly, explain the law clearly when the majority has done these very convoluted methods in order to go against the clear written language of the statute in order to further the upholding of the conviction.
So it is going to be sad to see her gone from the Oklahoma court of criminal appeals, where I think she is more needed, but certainly, it is considered to be a promotion for the Judge, Judge Kuehn to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
So everybody’s obviously happy for her for that, but it is unfortunate for the decisions that we’re going to get from the local court of criminal appeals going forward and being lost of that lone voice of sane descent that we enjoyed seeing over the last few years.
So if you’ve got a case, got questions about Judge Kuehn, Oklahoma court of criminal appeals, the Supreme Court, you’re going to want to talk to an attorney about that, to get that schedule somebody in my office you can go online to makelaweasy.com.