Here’s the scoop on Oklahoma’s judicial selection scheme from the American Judicature Society:
In Oklahoma judges were originally chosen in partisan elections. The impetus for change came in the mid-1960s, when one Oklahoma Supreme Court justice was convicted on bribery charges and another was impeached and removed from office. A third justice was already serving time in federal prison for income tax evasion. Described by one journalist as “one of the blackest marks ever on state government,” these events led to two constitutional amendments aimed at insulating judicial selection from direct partisan politics. Elections for district court judges were changed from partisan to nonpartisan contests, and merit selection was adopted for appellate court judges and to fill interim vacancies on the district court.
Obviously taking the vote from the grubby hands of the electorate worked out splendidly. Donald Thompson is a case in point:
Donald Thompson, 64, a former Oklahoma judge convicted in 2006 on felony indecent exposure counts for using a sexual device known as a penis pump while presiding over trials in his court — for which he served 20 months of a four-year prison term — has been arrested again. This time he faces felony drug and alcohol charges.
Thompson faces six charges, including three felonies — driving under the influence, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription after a former felony conviction and possession of a controlled dangerous substance after a former felony conviction. To add insult to injury, Thompson was driving on an expired temporary license.
A Special District Judge has set Thompson’s bail at $76,500.
In 2009, he was convicted inTulsaCounty of actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence. In June 2011, Thompson was also charged with stalking a woman known to be his ex-girlfriend. A court hearing on that charge is scheduled for Aug. 9.
After being disbarred, he was charged with a string of other offenses including driving under the influence.