February 14, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OKLAHOMA CITY – The ACLU of Oklahoma on behalf of two residents of Oklahoma’s Second Judicial District, filed suit challenging the appointment of Patrick Wyrick to the Oklahoma Supreme Court on the grounds that Wyrick does not meet the residency requirements of the Oklahoma Constitution and as a result is ineligible to represent this district on the Supreme Court.
The Oklahoma Constitution requires each member of the Court represent the people of one of nine geographical districts. The vacancy in question was created by the retirement of Judge Stephen Taylor of Oklahoma’s Second Court District, which encompases thirteen counties in Southeastern Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Constitution requires his replacement also to have been a resident of the Second Court District for at least one year, a requirement Patrick Wyrick does not appear to meet.
“The Oklahoma Constitution guarantees all of Oklahoma representation on the Supreme Court. We believe that Justice Wyrick is simply not eligible for office because he is not actually a resident of District 2. Wyrick has continued to live, work, and vote in the Oklahoma City Metro for years despite his recent sworn statement that he has been a resident of Atoka since birth. It is imperative that these inconsistent actions and statements be resolved and a determination made as to whether Wyrick can serve. We see overwhelming evidence that despite his recent claim to the contrary, Justice Wyrick has been a resident of the Oklahoma City Metro for nearly a decade and does not meet the minimum criteria for his appointment.”
Our suit is filed today on behalf of two residents of Oklahoma’s Second Court District, a Republican and a Democrat, who without a clear finding that Patrick Wyrick is indeed a resident of Atoka, believe they are left without their Constitutional right to representation on the Court.
“The process for nominating judges to the Oklahoma Supreme Court is outlined clearly in the Oklahoma Constitution. We take no pleasure in today’s filing, but if the judiciary is to fulfill its essential role as an independent and coequal branch of government, there should be absolutely no question about the eligibility of any of the justices to sit in judgement on some of the most important legal questions facing our state.” said Ryan Kiesel, ACLU of Oklahoma Executive Director. “ As a check on the legislative and executive branches of government, the independent judiciary is an integral part of a functioning democracy, and we must guard against any action that could call into question its legitimacy and authority.”
A copy of the Petition initiating the lawsuit is attached.