The selection of qualified persons for appointment to the judiciary is of the utmost importance to the administration of justice in this state. Since the adoption of Article 7B to the Oklahoma Constitution in 1967 there has been significant improvement in the quality of the appointments to the bench. Originally, the Judicial Nominating Commission was involved in the nomination of Justices of the Supreme Court and Judges of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Since the adoption of the amendment, the Legislature added the requirement that vacancies in all judgeships, appellate and trial, be filled by appointment of the Governor from nominees submitted by the Judicial Nominating Commission.
The Commission is composed of 15 members. There are six non‑lawyers appointed by the Governor, six lawyers elected by members of the bar and three at‑large members — one selected by the Speaker of the House of Representatives; one selected by President Pro Tempore of the Senate; one selected by at least eight members of the Commission. All serve six year terms, except the members at large who serve two–year terms. Members may not succeed themselves on the Commission.
The lawyers of this state play a very important role in the selection of judges since six of the members of the Commission are lawyers elected by lawyers. The lawyer members are elected from each of the six congressional districts as they existed in 1967*. Elections are held each odd-numbered year for members from two districts.
*Although the number of districts and their boundaries have changed over time, Oklahoma State Constitution (Article 7B §3) dictates that the boundaries for these elections are the Congressional Districts as they existed when the article was adopted in 1967.