Thursday, April 28, 2005

State Senate Approves Pro-Life Measure

Passage Wednesday of meaningful pro-life legislation is a victory for all Oklahomans, said Senator Daisy Lawler, author of the measure and a founding member of Democrats for Life.

House Bill 1686 will ensure “informed consent” by Oklahoma women seeking abortions and “parental notification” before a minor can receive an abortion, the Comanche Democrat said.
The measure passed on a 44-4 vote.

“The United States Supreme Court has said that abortions are legal and constitutional,” Lawler said. “The goal of this legislation is to make sure Oklahoma women of all ages fully understand all their options when making the choice to end their pregnancy.”

Senate amendments to House Bill 1686 were crafted by Lawler, D-Comanche, and Senator Kenneth Corn, D-Poteau, in consultation with Tony Lauinger, chairman of Oklahomans for Life.

“With the endorsement of Oklahomans for Life, and the bi-partisan support this bill received in the Senate, I am extremely hopeful that the House will accept the Senate amendments and send this bill to Governor Henry,” Lawler said. “To do otherwise would be to simply play politics with the lives of unborn Oklahoma children.”

The legislation requires that women receive certain information 24 hours before an abortion can be performed. The information includes:
• The name of the physician who will perform the abortion;
• Medical risks associated with an abortion and carrying a child to term;
• The gestational age of the fetus;
• And other objective information including materials designed to inform her of the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the unborn child at two-week increments.

The bill also requires that women be told that the father of the child is liable for financial support and that government benefits may also be available to them.

The information will be published and provided by the State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision and will contain a list of agencies and services available to assist a woman through a pregnancy and once the child is born.

The bill makes exceptions in cases of emergency.

“Oklahoma women who choose to end their pregnancies often do so because they haven’t been made aware of other options that are available to them,” Lawler said. “This bill will help educate Oklahoma women of all their choices and the services available to them.”

The measure also requires that 48 hours before an “un-emancipated minor” or a woman for whom a guardian has been appointed can receive an abortion, the parents or guardian of the woman must be notified in writing.

The law provides for judicial bypass of parental notification in certain circumstances.

The bill also sets out penalties for violation of the act, including disciplinary action against the physician by the State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision or the State Board of Osteopathic Examiners.
Additionally, the bill allows for criminal prosecution of a person who commits the crimes of shooting with intent to kill, drive-by shooting and aggravated assault and battery upon an unborn child from conception through the entire pregnancy.

That portion of the legislation has been dubbed the “Lacy Peterson Provision,” in remembrance of the pregnant California woman whose murder received national attention when her husband was charged with and convicted of the crime.

Source: Senate Press Release

Senate Approves Tax Credit Aimed at Boosting Film/Music Production in Oklahoma

The State Senate has given full approval to a measure designed to boost film and music production in Oklahoma. House Bill 1716 , by Sen. Debbe Leftwich, D-OKC, and Rep. Susan Winchester, R-Chickasha, creates an income tax credit equal to 25 percent on profits for a film or music project when those profits are re-invested into another Oklahoma film or music project.“I believe this is an excellent incentive to attract more film and music production to our state and ensure they’ll keep coming back. These are non-transferable tax credits that are good for the entertainment industry and good for Oklahoma,” Leftwich said.In addition to HB 1716, Sen. Leftwich has also authored SB 877 which amends the Tourism Development act to extend tax benefits to music productions as well as film. “Look at the incredible musical talents our state has produced—people like Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks, Toby Keith, Vince Gill—and there are many more. Why not build on that talent and really go after developing a music production industry right here. If Austin can do it, why can’t we? I believe each of these bills will help move us in that direction,” Leftwich said.Both SB 877 and HB 1716 will next move to conference committees where the final version of each measure will be written.

Source: Senate Press Release

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Bill Strengthening Oklahoma's Meth Law is Approved by the House

Monday afternoon, the state House overwhelmingly approved a measure that Gov. Brad Henry said will strengthen Oklahoma’s landmark anti-methamphetamine law. House Bill 1507 establishes a statewide online database that will link pharmacies to augment an existing law restricting sales of pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in methamphetamine.“Oklahoma has been a national leader in efforts to stamp out the scourge of methamphetamine, but that does not mean we can afford to rest on our laurels,” Gov. Henry said.“HB 1507 helps ensure that our state continue to see an erosion of meth abuse. By creating an electronic network of pharmacies, we will make exceedingly difficult for meth manufacturers to skirt the law. Connecting pharmacies across our state means that a pharmacist will be able to check if a customer has already purchased the maximum amount of pseudoephedrine allowed by law.”Authored by state Rep. Paul Roan (D-Tishomingo), state Rep. John Nance (R-Bethany) and Sen. Jay Paul Gumm (D-Durant), HB 1507 builds on the incredible successes of Oklahoma’s battle against the spread of meth abuse.Signed into law last year by Gov. Henry, House Bill 2176 requires that tablet sales of pseudoephedrine be placed behind pharmacy counters and that buyers show their identification upon purchase. Another provision of that act allows judges to deny bond to chronic meth offenders. HB 2176 has been credited with a signifcant drop in methamphetamine-related busts. According to the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control, meth lab seizures have dropped by as much as 70 percent since the law was enacted in April, 2004.In addition, Gov. Henry has been a strong proponent of efforts by U.S. Reps. Dan Boren (D-Muskogee) and Tom Cole (R-Moore) for federal legislation that would mirror Oklahoma’s anti-methamphetamine law.Gov. Henry said he plans to sign into law HB 1507.

Source: Governor's Press Release

Friday, April 22, 2005

Senate Approves Bill Banning Political Contributions at the Capitol Building

The Senate has given bipartisan approval to a measure by Sen. John Ford (R-Bartlesville) to prohibit anyone from accepting campaign contributions at any state government buildings.
The House author of House Bill 2058 is Rep. John Trebilcock (R-Broken Arrow). The measure, which was approved 44 to 1 on Monday, would make accepting contributions a misdemeanor offense.
"I do not believe that this bill would create an unnecessary hardship or impede government in any way," said Ford. "The problem is that there's a lot of distrust towards elected officials. If we can do something to help restore that trust, then we should."
House Bill 2058 will now move to a joint House/Senate conference committee. There the final version of the bill will be drafted before being returned to each chamber for a final vote.

Scholarship Program for Physician Assistants Approved by Senate

A bill to encourage people to enter physician assistant education programs and to practice in Oklahoma's rural and medically underserved areas won unanimous approval in the State Senate today. House Bill 1411 establishes the Physician Assistant Scholarship Program, which will be supported through a revolving fund created for and administered by the Physician Manpower Training Commission. The measure was authored by Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, and Sen. Susan Paddack, D-Ada."We have a real need for more physicians in our rural areas; and being that a majority of Oklahoma is rural, it was important that we help get more medical professionals in those areas," said Paddack. "We believe that this scholarship program will encourage more people to go into this field and work in our rural health care systems."A physician assistant is a professional member of the health care system qualified by intense basic science and clinical training to practice medicine under the supervision of a physician. The PA does not replace the physician, but works with that person to help extend health care services to patients.Paddack noted that only students who are residents of the state and who have been admitted as a student in an accredited physician assistant program will be eligible for the new scholarship program. If a scholarship recipient fails to fully comply with the provisions of the scholarship contract, the person will be required to return all the funding they had previously received plus interest. HB 1411 now moves to a conference committee.

Source: Oklahoma Senate Press Release

Statute of Limitations for Child Molesting to be Extended

Yesterday, after previously winning unanimous approval in the House, House Bill 1013 was unanimously approved by the State Senate. The bill by Rep. Larry Glenn, D-Miami, and Sen. Debbe Leftwich, D-OKC is a measure to increase the statute of limitations for filing charges against suspected child molesters. It would increase the statute of limitations from seven (7) years after discovery of the crime to twelve (12) years.
Several states have no time limitations whatsoever for filing charges against child predators. Of those that do, Oklahoma currently has one of the shortest.
This last extension of the limitations period occurred in 1990 when the legislature amended state law to increase the statute of limitations from five to seven years.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

New Grand Jury Convened

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has convened a new Multicounty Grand Jury. This will be Oklahoma’s tenth Multicounty Grand Jury. The court appointed Oklahoma County District Judge Bryan C. Dixon to preside. The office of Attorney General Drew Edmondson administers the multicounty grand jury.

The previous grand jury adjourned February 23rd after 18 months of service. The grand jury focused much of its time investigating former insurance commissioner Carroll Fisher and the Oklahoma Insurance Department.

In a separate order, the court today directed the attorney general’s office to respond to a defense attorney’s motion challenging the office’s authority to convene a grand jury. In that same order, the court ruled that “to the extent that Stephen Jones’ application challenges the mere convening of the Multicounty Grand Jury, the same is denied.” Edmondson said his office will respond as directed and hopes the court will quickly dispense with the challenge. “We know of no legal basis for this challenge,” Edmondson said. “We will not let legal gamesmanship distract us from the real work of the grand jury.”

Source: Attorney General Press Release

New District Judge for Oklahoma County

This Monday, Governor Brad Henry named Donald Deason as the new district judge for the 7th Judicial District in Oklahoma County. This appointment comes after several months of review of many highly qualified individuals who were vying for the judicial position.
A graduate of the University of Oklahoma law school, Deason was an assistant district attorney in Oklahoma County for 20 years. Deason has served as a special district court judge since 1999. The 52-year-old Deason replaces David Harbour, who resigned due to health issues. Deason is married and has two children.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

IME-Report to be Considered on a Equal Footing to All Other Proof in the Case

The Oklahoma Supreme Court issued an opinion Tuesday refusing to automatically give an independent medical examiner's report greater weight than that given to any other evidence. The court held that 85 O.S. §17 does not give an IME-report "prima facie effect." YOCUM v. GREENBRIAR NURSING HOME, 2005 OK 27

On February 2, 2000, Yocum suffered neck injury to her neck, back and shoulder while she was working at a nursing home. Yocum's physician "recommended she undergo a psychological evaluation as well as procedures for pain management. Her "employer's medical expert reached a contrary conclusion. According to his report she was neither in need of medical care and maintenance nor of treatment for psychological overlay. The report stated that [Yocum's] complaints of anxiety are caused by a pre-existing condition, not by the February 2nd injury. The trial judge then ordered four independent medical evaluations to assess claimant's need for further treatment. These four reports recommended pain management and psychological overlay treatment. On consideration of the entire medical evidence, the trial judge denied the request for treatment, resting his decision on the ground he was 'not persuaded . . . that she has psychological problems caused by the injuries.'"

The Court of Civil Appeals (COCA)vacated the panel's order and remanded the claim holding that "by its enactment of the independent medical examiner (IME) system the Legislature intended to accord prima facie effect to an IME-report assessment." The COCA held that the "legislative intent to give greater probative value to an opinion by a court-appointed IME is explicitly (or implicitly) reflected in the provisions of 85 O.S.2001 §17."

On appeal to the Supreme Court, Yocum's employer argued that "by prescribing a different weight to be given IME opinions, COCA distorts, if not indeed discards, the long-established any-competent-evidence standard for review of the panel's factual resolutions and invests the court-appointed doctor with "judicial authority" for making findings of fact."

The Supreme Court held that "there is neither legislative mandate for departing from the long-established any-competent-evidence standard of review nor for according an IME-report assessment an elevated (or lowered) rank for probative value. The court reasoned that "unlike the administratively managed workers' compensation regimes of Massachusetts and Louisiana, which statutorily mandate that IME opinions be treated as "prima facie" proof, the terms of 85 O.S.2001 §17(D) allocate no predetermined weight or probative value to the medical opinions of court-appointed physicians."

The court noted that "Any other gloss upon §17 would place its constitutionality in serious doubt," because it would "encroach upon the free exercise of decisionmaking powers reserved to the judiciary." According to the court this would violate the separation of powers doctrine which "interdicts legislative intrusion upon the functions assigned to the judiciary by the constitution." The court noted that the COCA's interpretation of the statute would "impermissibly rob that tribunal of its independent power to establish impairment or disability within the range of received competent evidence." (See Editorial note above.)

The court concluded that the "probative value of an IME's opinion on the extent of impairment or disability is evidence to be considered on a footing equal to all other proof in the case."

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Lawler Praises Senate Panel for Passage of Pro-life Bill

April 7, 2005Oklahoma Senate Press Release:
Senator Daisy Lawler said today she is pleased pro-life legislation cleared the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Lawler said House Bill 1686 passed the panel with bi-partisan support. Lawler, one of the co-founders of Democrats for Life, is particularly pleased that women who are facing the decision to end their pregnancy will now be armed with information that will hopefully help them choose life.

“Women who choose to end their pregnancies often do so because they are unaware of other options that are available to them,” Lawler said. “This bill will help educate Oklahoma women of all their choices.”

Lawler (D-Comanche) said the bill also makes it illegal for a physician to terminate a pregnancy without the voluntary consent of the pregnant woman. The expectant mother must receive information about services available to her 24 hours before the termination of the pregnancy.

“Requiring women to receive information 24 hours prior to the termination of the pregnancy will allow women much needed time to consider all their options,” the senator said. “The goal of this legislation is to make sure all Oklahoma women fully understand all their options when making the choice to end their pregnancy. Hopefully once they are armed with all the information about the services that are available to them they will choose not to terminate the pregnancy.”

The bill also includes language to enact a “Laci Peterson Act” which makes it a separate crime to harm or kill an unborn child during the commission of a crime against the baby’s mother.

“We all watched the tragic events surrounding the death of Laci Peterson and her unborn child, Connor,” the lawmaker said. “Making criminals pay for taking the life of a mother and her unborn child is commonsense legislation.”

Lawler said enacting the “Laci Peterson Act” will make criminals accountable for the crimes they commit against not only a mother, but also against the unborn child that expectant mother is carrying.

“I am proud of the members of the committee who not only agreed that criminals should be punished for taking the life of a mother and her unborn child, but who also agreed about the importance of educating women on their choices when facing the decision to terminate a pregnancy,” Lawler said. “This legislation is an important part of our work to make tomorrow better for our children.”

Oklahoma Will Continue to Prohibit Tattooing

Tattooing has been illegal in Oklahoma since 1965 and it appears that Oklahoma will likely continue to be the only state to prohibit tattooing, at least for another year. The chairman of an Oklahoma state House committee says members have more pressing issues to consider than thetattoo bill.

However, tattoo parlors are openly advertising, and drumming up plenty of business. The Tulsa County District Attorney issued a misdemeanor arrest warrant for a Broken Arrow tattoo artist. He faces a possible $500 fine and 90 days in jail if convicted.

Opponents of the body art bill say tattooing can spread disease. Health officials say "regulation" would actually curb the spread of blood borne illnesses like Hepatitis.

Welcome to the New Connecticut Law Blog

The creators of Kirby's Reports and the Three Generations/a Public Defender blog(
and ), two blogs covering Connecticut law, have recently joined forces to formThe Connecticut Law Blog (, which will cover all aspects of Connecticut law.
Both of the authors are attorneys admitted in Connecticut, one a public defender, the other an in-house corporate lawyer. They have blogged extensively on Connecticut's courts, including the state Supreme Court, the death penalty (in particularthe Michael Ross case), and the sentencing of former ConnecticutGovernor John Rowland on corruption charges -- as well as a number ofother issues.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Time Line for the Jimmie Ray Slaughter Case

Because I have had some comments, inquiries, and hits related to the Jimmie Ray Slaughter trial and execution, I have decided to publish the following time line.

July 1991 - Bodies of Melody and Jessica Wuertz found.
January 1992 – charges filed against Jimmie Ray Slaughter.
May 1994 – trial of JRS commences.
October 1994 – jury recommends death penalty and trial court affirms.
January 1995 – Investigative police Officer Dennis Dill files a complaint against the City of Edmond, Lieutenant Terry Gregg, and Chief of Police Bill Vetter based on their refusal to allow him to bring what he believed to be exculpatory evidence to light and retaliating against him for attempts to do so.
December 1997 – Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals affirms trial court’s decision to impose the death penalty.
??? - JRS petitions the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari
October 1998 – JRS’s petition for writ of certiorari is denied by the U.S. Supreme Court.
April 1998 – JRS files an application for post-conviction relief.
November 1998 – OCCA denies JRS’s application for post-conviction relief.
??? – Petitions the U.S. District for the Western District of Oklahoma for a writ of habeas corpus.
??? – USDWDO denies JRS’s petition for writ of habeas corpus
June 2003 – United States Court of Appeals, 10th Circuit affirms the USDWDO denial of JRS’s petition for writ of habeas corpus.
??? - JRS appeals 10th Circuit’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court by filing a writ of certiorari.
March 2004 - U.S. Supreme Court denies JRS’s writ of certiorari.
March 2004 - JRS files second appeal for post-conviction relief and motion for evidentiary hearing.
January 2005 - JRS’s second appeal for post-conviction relief is denied by OCCA and execution date is set for March 15, 2005.
January 2005 - JRS files third application for post-conviction relief and motion for evidentiary hearing.
March 10, 2005 - JRS’s second appeal for post-conviction relief is denied by OCCA.
??? - JRS files application to the U.S. Supreme Court for stay of death sentence and writ of certiorari.
March 15, 2005 - U.S. Supreme Court denies JRS’s application for stay of death sentence and writ of certiorari.
March 15, 2005
(6:19 p.m.) - Jimmie Ray Slaughter is executed by lethal injection.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Extra Money for Extra Long Jury Duty

On Tuesday, Oklahoma Supreme Court issued IN THE MATTER OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE LENGTHY TRIAL FUND, 2005 OK 21 , which approves the rules for the Lengthy Trial Fund. These rules allow a juror to request payment from the lengthy trial fund for full or partial wage replacement when engaged in a term of jury service lasting greater than ten (10) days. The Administrative Director of the Courts may pay replacement or supplemental wages of up to $200.00 per day on or after the eleventh day of jury service. If the service as a juror in a trial lasting more than ten days is a significant financial hardship on any particular juror, the court may then award replacement or supplemental wages of up to $50.00 per day for the fourth to the tenth day of jury service.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Escaped Oklahoma Killer Randolph Dial Found

Several years ago, a new couple moved into a mobile home on a wooded lot in Campti, Texas, a small town near the Louisiana Border. As the years passed, residents of Campti began to feel that there was something not quite right about the pair. They kept to themselves in their secluded trailer, raising their chickens. They were not social with the locals, which was unusual for this small community.
Early this month the residents of Campti found out why their neighbors had been so aloof. Someone surfing the "America's Most Wanted" web site saw a familiar face. Based on a tip from the AMW fan, law enforcement officers entered the mobile home and found Randolph Franklin Dial .
Over fifteen years ago, Randolph Dial had been sentenced to life imprisonment by Judge Clifford E. Hopper of the District Court of Tulsa County for the murder of Kelly Hogan, an Oklahoma karate instructor, in 1981. Dial confessed to the murder, claiming it was a contract killing and that he was hired by the mob.
While in prison Dial, a renowned sculptor and painter who holds a masters degree in art, obtained trusty status allowing him to stay outside the prison walls with only minimum security. On August 30, 1994, Dial escaped taking with him Bobbi Parker, the wife of a deputy warden of the prison.
Parker, whom residents of Campti had known as "Sam", was found shortly after Dial's re-arrest tending chickens in a nearby farm. Though initially it appeared that Parker did not wish to return to her family, more recent reports indicated that she was kept captive against her will and never reported Dial in fear for her family's safety. Parker and her husband Randy had an emotional reunion on Tuesday.