February 16, 2011
None In The Family
The holding of a case decided yesterday by the Oklahoma Supreme Court:
This is an original proceeding to challenge the validity of State Question No. 752, Legislative Referendum No. 352 and the Judicial Nominating Commission. State Question No. 752 amended art. 7-B §3, of the Oklahoma Constitution to require that none of the lay members of the Commission have any "immediate family" members who are lawyers. It also amended the Constitution by adding two additional members, one to be selected by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the other by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The amendment did not, however, change the constitutional language referring to six congressional districts which existed when the provision was first adopted, even though there are currently only five congressional districts. Because this cause is publici juris, we previously assumed original jurisdiction. We hold that: 1) the referendum submitted to and approved by the voters was an amendment to the Okla. Const. art. 7-B §3, not a repeal of that section of the Constitution; and 2) regardless of the Constitutional amendment, the Commission's decisions are valid when decided by a majority of its members.
I find this idea interesting.
In my experience, many of the lay members of District of Columbia disciplinary hearing committees (and the Board on Professional Responsibility) have a close tie to an attorney. While I don't advocate in favor of the exclusionary approach of this referendum, I do wonder whether such lay participants truly reflect a non-lawyer perspective in evaluating misconduct. (Mike Frisch)
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