Friday, January 28, 2005

Potential Federal Law May Mirror Oklahoma Law on Meth

The pandemic spread of methamphetamine production and use has lead states across the nation to look to Oklahoma's pioneering effort in reducing the availability of the drug's precursors. Now the United State's legislature is considering the Oklahoma's meth law as a model for a new federal law. Okla. Stat. tit. 63, section 2-332.
Yesterday, Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana said that a federal law requiring that nonprescription cold medicines be kept behind pharmacy counters would be a major step toward fighting the spread of methamphetamine. Senator Bayh said the federal measure was modeled after an Oklahoma law, which has helped drive down meth lab seizures more than 80 percent. Bayh is among a dozen Republican and Democratic senators who have backed the proposal for tighter handling of medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, a principal ingredient used to make meth.
For more on the law look at my post of January 7th Oklahoma Meth Law Becomes a National Model.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Two Executions Recently Set in Oklahoma

On January 19, 2005, a week after issuing its opinion denying the second application for post-conviction relief in Slaughter v. State, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals set an execution date of March 15, 2005, for Jimmy Ray Slaughter.
A press release from the Oklahoma Attorney General's Office states, "Slaughter was convicted of the July 2, 1991, murders of his ex-girlfriend Melody Sue Wuertz, 29, and their one-year-old daughter Jessica Rae Wuertz. The murders were committed in Wuertz’s Edmond home. Melody Wuertz was shot in the head and neck and her body was stabbed and slashed multiple times. Jessica Wuertz was shot in the head." A clemency hearing will be held for Slaughter at 9 a.m., Feb. 15 at Oklahoma State Penitentiary.
On January 24, 2005, the Court of Criminal appeals also set the execution date for John David Duty. Duty's execution is set for February 24, 2005.
A press release from the Oklahoma Attorney General's Office states "Duty, 52, was convicted of the Dec. 19, 2001, murder of Curtis Wise, 22. Wise was Duty’s cell mate at Oklahoma State Penitentiary. At the time of Wise’s murder, Duty was serving two concurrent life sentences for 1978 Tillman County convictions of rape and shooting with intent to kill and one life sentence for a 1978 conviction of robbery in Jackson County."

Friday, January 21, 2005

Chief Judge Sven Erik Holmes Takes Position at KPMG

This March, U.S. Chief District Judge Sven Erik Holmes of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma will resign from the federal bench after 10 years as a federal judge. He will take the position of vice chair of legal affairs with KPMG in New York. This newly created position operates as the chief legal officer for the audit, tax and advisory firm, directing its office of gernal counsel and the ethics and compliance functions.

U.S. Supreme Court Debates Oklahoma Law

Several Oklahoma registered voters and the Libertarian Party of Oklahoma are currently involved in a battle with the Oklahoma State Election Board over an Oklahoma statute governing the conduct of primary elections. The plaintiffs are challenging 26 O.S. § 1-104(A) and § 1-104(B)(4), claiming they impermissibly prevent a recognized political party in Oklahoma from opening up its primary and run-off elections to all Oklahoma registered voters regardless of those voters' political party affiliation. The United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma held that the law was constitutional. Beaver v. Clingman, 2003 WL 74562 (W.D. Okla. 2003). However, on appeal the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals held that the law was an unconstitutional violation of the free association guarantees of the First Amendment. Beaver v. Clingman, 363 F.3d 1048 (10th Cir. 2004). Late last year the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari review of the 10th Circuit’s decision. Clingman v. Beaver, 125 S.Ct. 27, 159 L.Ed.2d 857, 73 USLW 3075, 73 USLW 3178, 73 USLW 3204 (2004)The U.S. Supreme Court heard argument this past Tuesday. In reviewing the ruling of the 10th Circuit, the Supreme Court will decide whether the holding of California Democratic Party v. Jones, 530 U.S. 567, 578, 120 S.Ct. 2402, 147 L.Ed.2d 502 (2000) requires a state to allow a political party to open up its primary election to any registered voter, regardless of affiliation.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Student's Privacy Protected

The Attorney General recently signed an agreement entitled the Assurance of Voluntary Compliance with National Research Center for College and University Admissions, Inc. (NRCCUA). NRCCUA is a research agency which surveys high school students. Several states including Oklahoma allege that NRCCUA strongly implies that information garnered from the high school students is used for college recruitment purposes. However, the states alleged the company failed to disclose that information would also be shared with other companies for marketing purposes.

The agreement is a result of over two years of negotiations. Under the agreement, NRCCUA will be prohibited from selling students information for non-educational marketing purposes. The company will also be required to provide notice to students parents that they will be conducting the survey and that students have the option not to take it. The company will also pay Oklahoma $10,000 for attorney fees and investigative costs. Here is the Press Release from the AG's office.

Friday, January 14, 2005

New Law found unconstitutional

After the passing of the Oklahoma Municipal Employee Collective Bargaining Act several Oklahoma Cities filed suit in various district courts around the state challenging the law. This law would allow the public employees of municipalities with populations of 35,000 or more to form unions. On January 12, 2005, in one of several suits filed around the state, Judge Daniel Owens, District Judge for Oklahoma County, held that the new law was unconstitutional because it does not apply to cities and towns with populations of 35,000 or fewer, which violates the prohibition of "special laws" contained in Article 5, Section 46 of Oklahoma Constitution.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Indian Law May Find a Place on the Oklahoma Bar Exam

This is the story as reported by the Associated Press:
The Oklahoma Bar Association is considering a change in its bar exam to add a section on Indian law. The state Board of Bar Examiners in November discussed and then tabled a proposal to add Indian law to the two-day exam. Board chairman Richard Fogg says he thinks it's more a question of when than if Oklahoma will add Indian law to the bar exam. The Oklahoma Bar Association's Indian Law section advocates the change but has not yet formally requested it. Chairman Colline Meek says Oklahoma eventually will make the change because Indian legal issues are so prevalent here. University of Oklahoma law dean Dean Andrew Coats says adding Indian law to the bar exam might be a good idea considering the impact Indian law has in Oklahoma. But he says he thinks school should be given time to work courses into the curriculum.
  • Story from KOTV

  • Friday, January 07, 2005

    Drew Edmondson and the Poultry Industry of Oklahoma

    A couple of days ago, I saw an advertisement on television. It involved a man dressed in typical farm attire, standing in front of a fence surrounding a picturesque farm. He began by describing how he and his family have been poultry farmers for years. I expected it to be a commercial pushing chicken products. However, the man went on to say that he and the other poultry farmers had been doing the best they could to comply with the laws of Oklahoma, but that their efforts were not good enough for the Attorney General of Oklahoma, who was, according to the man, about to bring suit against the poultry industry. The man then urged his listeners to write to our congressman and to Drew Edmondson to prevent this lawsuit.
    As a result of this advertisement and other actions by the industry, Edmondson canceled next week's negotiations with the poultry industry on a water quality agreement. The Attorney General accused the industry of "delay and deceit." Edmondson said that he was not unwilling to talk to the industry, but that "we do not intend to fall victim to stall tactics while the industry and the Oklahoma Farm Bureau are tainting the potential jury pool with advertising and preparing to attack us in the Oklahoma Legislature." He went on to say that "the Farm Bureau represents the big companies first, the farmers second and the environment somewhere after last."
    I don't know how much jury tainting is necessary given that the priorities of many Oklahomans mirror those of the Farm Bureau (if you believe Edmondson's description). Two incredible factors are at odds here: (1)the vital need to prevent pollution to Oklahoma's water systems; and (2) an industry that employs over 12,000 Oklahomans. It will be interesting to see which wins out.

    Oklahoma's Meth Law Becomes a National Model

    Last year, Oklahoma passed a law making it more difficult to buy the over-the-counter cold medicines some use to manufacture highly addictive and potentially lethal methamphetamine. Since that time, law enforcers around Wichita have seen more drug traffickers coming across the border. These law enforcers now want Kansas lawmakers to pass the same kind of restrictions in Kansas. These restrictions would require pharmacies to keep tablets containing ephedrine and psuedoephedrine behind the counter. The popular cold medicines are among the key ingredients in manufacturing meth. Kansas is not alone in this venture. Over twenty-seven states have are looking at this Oklahoma law as a model for similar legislation. WIth this new law Oklahoma on pace to see 561 fewer meth labs seized this year.

    This is the relevant portion of the law:
    D. Any wholesaler, manufacturer, or distributor of drug products containing pseudoephedrine or phenylpropanolamine, or their salts, isomers, or salts of isomers shall obtain a registration annually from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control. Any such wholesaler, manufacturer, or distributor shall keep complete records of all transactions involving such drug products including the names of all parties involved in the transaction and amount of the drug products involved. The records shall be kept readily retrievable and separate from all other invoices or records of transactions not involving such drug products, and shall be maintained for not less than three (3) years. 63 O.S. § 2-332

    Congratulations to the New Officers of the Young Lawyer's Division of the Oklahoma Bar Association

    Luke Gaither- 2005 Chairperson
    Keri G. Williams - Chairperson-Elect
    Chris Camp - Treasurer
    Kimberly Warren - Secretary
    Mark Osby - Immediate Past Chairperson
    Sarah Glick - District Three
    Shawnae E. Proctor - District Three
    Molly Bircher - District Six
    Nathan Johnson - District Nine
    Randy Grau - Director-At-Large
    Richard Rose -Director-At-Large
    Timothy Tardibono - Director-At-Large

    Thursday, January 06, 2005

    Oklahoma Supreme Court veteran, Marian Opala, sues "Young Turk" colleagues

    The Oklahoma Constitution allows members of the Oklahoma Supreme Court to choose their own chief justice. But, under the court's internal rules, the position has rotated every two years for those justices who have served at least six years. This past November, however, the justices, other than Justice Opala, decided to change the rules. The current Chief Justice, Joseph M. Watt, was elected to a second two-year term. Under previous practices, Justice Opala was next in line for the Chief Justice seat and would have taken that position this month. Justice Opala has referred to the extension of Chief Justice Watt's term as "an almost true to fiction plot" between Watt and some of the "young Turks" on the court. (The youngest member of the Oklahoma Supreme Court is 52, and Opala's junior by about 31 years.) As a result, Justice Opala has filed suit against his colleagues in Federal Court for age discrimination.
    It would be potential career suicide for me to offer my opinion on the actions of either the court or Justice Opala. However, I would like to respond to some comments of Justice Opala's critics. Deborah L. Rhode, is quoted as saying that "[t]he court has an interest in ensuring that the role is filled by someone of exemplary judgment, temperament and related capacities. These do not appear in abundant supply in this particular case." I do not know if Ms. Rhode, a teacher of legal ethics at Stanford, has ever met Justice Opala, but I have. I have had the honor of having Justice Opala as a professor in law school, and I am not sure that I can name another individual who was more in tune with the law, its history, and its majesty. I have no doubt that Justice Opala's judgment and temperament are by all standards exemplary. That being said, even Justice Opala has said that the suit is novel and would do little for the dignity of and reputation of his court, but that he believed it was necessary because judges must also obey the norms of federal, constitutional law when making their management decisions.

    Wednesday, January 05, 2005

     Posted by Hello

    Tuesday, January 04, 2005

    January 4, 2005 - Welcome

    Welcome to the new weblog devoted to issues in Oklahoma law. The purpose of this site is to provide the Oklahoma legal community with information on issues affecting Oklahoma law. I believe you will find this law blog timely, informative and interesting. Please pass this link on to your colleagues and help me make OK Blawg a success.