The Complexities of Oklahoma’s Federal and District Courts: A Comprehensive Guide

A. Trial Courts in the State of Oklahoma

Every Oklahoma county has a district court, which has 77 district courts in total. The State includes 75 district judges, 77 associate district judges, and 89 special judges to oversee the proceedings in the district court. Oklahoma district courts operate as courts with general jurisdiction.

In addition, the district court has jurisdiction over small claims courts in Oklahoma. Limits on claims are $6,000 for claims arising from breaches of contract, injury, or to collect personal property. Oklahoma additionally has courts with limited jurisdiction. The Workers’ Compensation Court has ten judges who decide on cases concerning the claims for injury compensation under the State’s Workers’ Compensation Act. The Court of Tax Review, comprised of 3 district judges, is a court that hears appeals regarding tax levies.

Oklahoma district court judges are elected for four years, with the exception of special judges who are appointed by district judges. There are vacancies in a term filled by Governors appointed from the list of three candidates made to the Judicial Nominating Commission. The elections are nonpartisan. On a state website, political contributions/contributors are listed.

In a district court, a jury consists of 12 members and requires nine to be on the same side (in civil cases). (In certain instances, a jury may comprise six people; however, this is very uncommon.)

Responsibilities of the Northern District Court

The Northern District Court arbitrates federal crimes within its jurisdiction. They comprise conspiracies, cybercrime (child sexual exploitation) and drug-related charges, gun-related charges, McGirt-related charges and organized criminality, violent crimes, and white-collar criminals. 

The federal court Tulsa Oklahoma that has cases in the Northern District Court include the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), Drug Enforcement Association (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Office of Inspector General (OIG).

B. Appellate Courts

The Oklahoma Supreme Court is comprised of nine judicial districts, with a justice out of each district. The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals comprises twelve judges. The judges are split into four panels, with two panels located in Oklahoma City and two in Tulsa.

Judges are appointed initially by the Governor of Oklahoma. The Governor of Oklahoma appoints them. However, they serve for six years and are re-elected in an election called for in the general elections. The appointments are based on three applicants chosen from the Judicial Nominating Commission. If a judge gets the “do not retain” vote, the governor chooses the replacement judge.

An appeal within Oklahoma is made from a final judgment with some exceptions. These exceptions, also known as interlocutory reviews that are statutory, include exceptions (like orders granting, denying, or revoking an injunction or other remedy or order that grants an opportunity for a fresh trial) if a court has deemed a claim to be eligible for appeal when numerous plaintiffs, as well as many cases, are being considered (certify the appeal) as well as through a mandamus or prohibition actions. A party may request a writ or a writ for prohibition or mandamus to stop the most egregious conduct or inaction by the court.

An appeal can be initiated by filing a complaint of error before the Oklahoma Supreme Court, serving copies on the court of trial and to all parties. The petition of error must be submitted within 30 days after the judgment is entered.

The Supreme Court will generally assign the appeal to the Court of Civil Appeals, but an appeals party may petition the Supreme Court to retain the appeal.

The appellant must identify the record when the petition for error is filed. The appellee can counterdesignate a record.

In addition, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has also established an expedited appeals procedure to dismiss cases based on the failure to assert the claim or lack of jurisdiction and for summary judgments. There is no requirement for briefing, and the case record is restricted to the appealed order, the pleadings, motions and responses, the transcripts of hearings, and reconsideration motions.

C. Time for Filing an Answer

A response is due 20 days following service of the summons. The defendant may request a reservation of the time, which allows the defendant to reply 20 days after the date of the last response, but this does not waive certain defenses. Okla. Stat. tit. 12, SS 2012(A)(1). A counterclaim’s response must be filed within 20 days of the delivery of the response.

Rely on the Experienced Representation of an Expert

If a federal government agency is looking into you or has been charged with a federal offense, you must have solid legal representation today. Federal criminal charges could alter the way you live your life. 

If you’re facing federal criminal charges within the Northern District Court, you need a federal attorney like federal court Tulsa Oklahoma to protect you. These aren’t the kinds of charges you would want to take on alone. Fortunately, Ted Hasse can walk you through these charges and explain the options available.