Oklahoma City judicial forum affords opportunity to know trial judges before November election

OKLAHOMA CITY – The second Oklahoma County (District 7) Judicial Candidate Forum will be held Thursday (October 23) from 12 – 1:30 p.m. at the Norick Downtown Library in the 4th Floor Auditorium. 

Sponsored by the Oklahoma County Bar Association (OCBA), the forum is open to the public.

Featuring all 10 candidates running for judicial office in Oklahoma County, the event will give insight to the candidate’s qualifications and expertise. The Oklahoma County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association hosted a similar forum last month.

Candidates up for election in Office 1 are Joel A. Porter and Aletia Hayes Timmons. Office 2: Kysha M. Williams and Judge Thomas E. Prince. Office 3: Orenthel Denson and Judge Donald Deason. Office 13: Amy Palumbo and Judge Roger Stuart. And, in Office 15: Jarrod Heath Stevenson and Judge Don Andrews.

Porter, a graduate of Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston, TX, has practiced in Oklahoma County for 26 years in the areas of criminal, civil, family and probate law.

“People that come through the system will get fairness, respect, and dignity whether they are a lawyer, a litigant, a juror, or someone who is just observing,” Porter said. “That’s something that we all should feel that we are entitled to.”

Timmons, a graduate of the University of Oklahoma School of Law, has over 25 years of experience in the areas of civil rights, criminal defense, nursing home negligence and small business law.

“I want to be a mediator on the bench,” Timmons said. “I want to be someone who is civil, who understands and listens, who has the experience to do the job in a way that gives dignity to the process.”

Williams, an OU School of Law graduate, has six years experience as a municipal judge and over 12 years as a private attorney practicing family, juvenile, criminal, bankruptcy and sports entertainment law. Williams works with underprivileged young women entering college and with special needs children.

“From the bench I want to bring equality, justice, liberty and service,” Williams said, “Off the bench I would like to continue to serve my community.”

Judge Prince graduated from the Oklahoma City University School of Law and was appointed to the District Court in April 2012.

“I don’t think folks care about what you know, but rather what you care about.” Prince said. “What I care about is the fair and impartial administration of justice. That means I want to be fair to everyone who comes before me. I want to keep alive that spark of conscience of treating everyone the same. That’s what it means to be a person or judge of integrity.”

Denson graduated from OCU School of Law and has worked at his own firm, Denson Law in northwest Oklahoma City for ten years.

“Honorable judges are fair and impartial and recognize that their roles are to serve with integrity,” Denson said.

Judge Deason, an OU law school graduate, became an assistant district attorney under Andy Coats and remained in that position for 19 years. He has served as a special judge and was appointed in 2005 by Gov. Brad Henry to the District Court.

Deason recalled promising Gov. Henry that he “would ‘seek to retain the seat’ – and that is what I’m doing.”

“It’s been very enlightening to get out and talk to people in our community – the people that will be served,” Deason said. “I find the people are very interested in what we do at the courthouse. Ultimately we know that as judicial candidates, the only platform that we can run on is our experience, our integrity and our reputation.”

He added, “I’ve enjoyed doing this job for just over 15 years now.”

An OCU School of Law graduate, Palumbo’s practice is primarily criminal defense work and family law at Marco Palumbo & Associates.

Having experience as both a defense and prosecuting attorney, Palumbo said, “One thing that I’m enjoying about campaigning is that I want to make sure that people relate to me. If you step foot in a court that I am running you can be assured that every single person will get a fair shake. I do this because I believe in the Constitution and because I truly believe that to be a judge, you need to have experience from both sides of the bench.”
Judge Stuart graduated from OU’s School of Law. A special judge in the juvenile court system for 16 years, he was appointed in 2011 to the current District Court bench.

“If you come into my courtroom, no matter who you are, I’m going to listen to you,” Stuart said. “If you’ve got something in writing I’m going to read it. I hope no one walks out of my courtroom saying ‘he doesn’t know what he’s talking about or that he wasn’t prepared.”

Stevenson, an OU law school graduate practices criminal defense law at Stevenson Law firm. He received the Clarence Darrow Award in 2012.

“I’m going to follow the law, but there are other sentencing options available from a District Judge than prison. I think there’s something we need to do as a judiciary as a whole and something I want to do as a District Judge,” Stevenson said.

Judge Andrews graduated from OCU Law School and has been a special judge since 2011.

“I have 22 years of general practice in the trenches,” Andrews said. “Coupled with three and half plus years on the bench, that’s a good skill set for District Judge. Dealing with domestic violence or victims suffering from mental illness or even those who are wrongly accused, you learn compassion on the bench.”

For more information on Thursday’s forum, call OCBA Executive Director Debra Garden at 405-236-8421.

Seventh District Judges running unopposed include Barbara G. Swinton, Bernard Jones, Bill Graves, Bryan C. Dixon, Cindy Truong, Glenn M. Jones, Lisa T. Davis, Patricia G. Parrish, Ray C. Elliott, Richard Kirby and Tim Henderson.

NOTE: Pat McGuigan contributed to this report. Darla Shelden writes for The City Sentinel newspaper in Oklahoma City, where this information was first published.