OK Justices and Judges

Judges and Justices were contacted and invited to send biographic information.

Chief Justice Douglas L. Combs
Oklahoma Supreme Court

Appointed by:
Gov. Brad Henry
Combs was born October 17, 1951, in Shawnee, Oklahoma. He is currently serving as Vice Chief Justice for 2015 and 2016. He graduated from Shawnee High School in 1969. Combs attended St. Gregory’s Junior College for one year on an athletic scholarship and transferred to the University of Oklahoma receiving his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 1973. He received his Juris Doctorate degree from Oklahoma City University in 1976. Combs began his judicial career in January 1995 as a Special Judge for the Twenty-third Judicial District, serving both Pottawatomie and Lincoln Counties. While a special judge, Combs was responsible for the establishment of the first Drug Court in the Twenty-third Judicial District. Combs presided over the Drug Court docket while a special judge, and subsequently as district judge until his appointment to the Supreme Court by Governor Brad Henry to serve as a Supreme Court Justice for District 8 on January 1, 2010. While a member of the judiciary, Combs has served as Presiding Judge for the North Central Judicial District and Chief Judge of the Twenty-third Judicial District. He has been active in the Oklahoma Judicial Conference, serving on the Executive Board as both a Special Judge and District Judge. He has served on the Legislative Committee for the Judicial Conference for more than 10 years. Combs served as President of the Judicial Conference in 2009. He currently serves as the Supreme Court liaison to the Judicial Conference Executive Board. He has been a member of the Oklahoma Court on the Judiciary, Appellate Division from 2011 to the present.

Justice James R. Winchester
Oklahoma Supreme Court

Appointed by:
Gov. Frank Keating
James R. Winchester was appointed as a member of the Supreme Court of Oklahoma by Governor Frank Keating in 2000. He served as Chief Justice of the Court from January 2007 to December 2008. A native of Clinton, Oklahoma, he received his bachelors of arts from the University of Oklahoma and his juris doctor-ate from Oklahoma City University. After graduating from law school, Winchester practiced law in Western Oklahoma before being named Associate District Judge for Caddo County in January 1983. In December 1983, at age 30, he became one of the youngest district judges in the state when he was appointed by Governor George Nigh as District Judge for the Sixth Judicial District of Oklahoma. He was named Outstanding State Trial Court Judge and is a past President of the Oklahoma Judicial Conference. For two years, Justice Winchester served as a U.S. Administrative Law Judge in Oklahoma City and New Orleans. Justice Winchester is a graduate of Leadership Oklahoma and the recent recipient of the Boy Scouts of America Silver Beaver Award. He resides in Chickasha, Oklahoma with his wife, Susan Winchester, and their son, Davis.

Judge Robert L. Hudson
Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals

Appointed by:
Gov. Mary Fallin
Judge Robert L. Hudson was appointed to the Court on March 11, 2015 by Governor, Mary Fallin. He was born in Guthrie, Oklahoma and graduated from Guthrie High School in 1975. He graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1980 with a double major in Agricultural Economics and Accounting. He earned his Juris Doctorate from the University Of Oklahoma School Of Law in 1983. After graduating from law school, Judge Hudson was in the private practice of law in Guthrie, Oklahoma from 1983 to 1996. In April of 1996 he was appointed by then Governor Frank Keating as District Attorney for Payne and Logan Counties, a post he was re-elected to four consecutive terms. In 2011, Judge Hudson left the District Attorney's Office and accepted the position of First Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Attorney General. In November of 2012, he be-came Special Judge in the 9th Judicial District, where he served the citizens of Logan and Payne Counties for over two years before being appointed to the Court of Criminal Appeals by Governor Mary Fallin in April of 2015. Among Judge Hudson's achievements, honors and awards, in 1980 he was named OSU's College of Agriculture's Most Outstanding Graduate and one of OSU's Top five Graduating Senior Men. While in law school, he was a member of the 1983 Regional Winning National Mock Trial Team. In 2000 and 2011, he was named the state's Outstanding District Attorney by the Oklahoma District Attorneys Association, and served two terms as President of the Oklahoma District Attorneys Association (2000 & 2008). Judge Hudson is a member of Leadership Oklahoma Class XVII. He served as a Commissioner for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation for nearly ten years. Judge Hudson has been married for thirty-five years. His wife, Mary Hughes Hudson, of Bartlesville, is a school teacher. They have five adult children and numer-ous grandchildren. Judge Hudson also owns and oper-ates a wheat and cow-calf operation in the Guthrie area. He is a Deacon in the First Southern Baptist Church of Guthrie.

Judge Clancy Smith
Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals

Appointed by:
Chief Justice
James E. Edmondson
Judge Clancy Smith Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Clancy Smith was appointed to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals on September 1, 2010 by Chief Justice James E. Edmondson to fill the unexpired term of Judge Charles S. Chapel. Judge Smith is a native of Hugo, Oklahoma. She attended Oklahoma State University, receiving a Bachelor's Degree in English in 1964. She received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa College of Law in 1980. She taught high school English in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Jacksonville, Florida. After graduating law school, she worked in private practice of law from 1980 to 1994. She then served as a Special Judge in Tulsa County from 1994 to 1998 in the Family Division, where she served with distinction. In 1996, she received the Outstanding Family Law Judge Award from the Family Law Section of the Oklahoma Bar Association. From 1996 to 2005, Smith served in the criminal division, conducting preliminary hearings, arraignments and bond hearings. In 2005, Judge Smith was appointed as District Judge in Tulsa County where she served in the criminal division and presided over more than 110 felony jury trials. In that capacity, she has worked closely with Women In Recovery for alternative sentencing options for women. Judge Smith is an active member of the Tulsa County Bar Association and Oklahoma Bar Association. She also served as President of the Johnson-Sontag Chapter of the America Inns of Court for three years, and in 2010, she received the James Sontag Award for ethics and civility. She also was a recipient of the 2010 Mona Salyer Lambird Spotlight Award. In 2013, she received the OBA Award of Judicial Excellence. In 2014, she received the University of Tulsa Law School Outstanding Senior Alumni Award. She has two children and four grandchildren.

Judge John Fischer
Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals

Appointed by:
Gov. Brad Henry

Retention date:
May 20, 2006

Judge John F. Fischer was born September 23, 1948, in Stillwater, Oklahoma, Fischer received a bachelor and masters degree in English Literature from the University of Oklahoma. He received a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1975, and was admitted to practice law in Oklahoma in 1976. He has been admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court since 1979. From 1976 to 1980 Fischer served as an assistant attorney general for the State of Oklahoma. He was in private law practice from 1980 to 2006, during which time he was selected by his peers as one of The Best Lawyers in America, in commercial litigation. While in law school, Fischer received the Liberty National Bank Research Scholarship. He is a Master of the Bench and past president of the William J. Holloway American Inn of Court, CV, member of the Oklahoma Lawyers for Children, and author of various articles on antitrust law and health care issues. He has been involved in various arts and community activities, and served as a member and chair of several state and county bar committees. He is a member of the American and Oklahoma bar associations, the Oklahoma Judicial Conference, a fellow of the Oklahoma Bar Foundation, and the past Oklahoma representative to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit Advisory Committee. In May 2006 Governor Brad Henry appointed Fischer to the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals. Fischer and his wife, Pam, have been married since 1972. They have two daughters, Jennifer and Andrea.

Judge Larry E. Joplin
Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals

Appointed by:
Gov. David Walters

Retention date:
November, 1994

Judge Larry E. Joplin, District 4, Office 2. Born on August 9, 1946, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Joplin received a bachelor's degree and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Oklahoma. While in law school, Joplin was selected for the Oklahoma Law Review, and Moot Court, with his team placing third nationally his junior year. Joplin served as an attorney with Pierce & Couch from 1971 to 1973, and Bohannon & Barth from 1973 to 1976. He was a partner in his own law firm, Wheatley & Joplin, from 1978 to 1982, and a partner with Crowe & Dunlevy from 1982 to 1993. Joplin also served as a special prosecutor for the Oklahoma County District Attorney's office from 1976 to 1978, as director of the State of Oklahoma Office, Washington, D.C. in 1993, and as general counsel for the State Insurance Department from 1993 to 1994. Joplin was appointed as judge to the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals in November 1994. He married Susan Colley. They have three children - Karen, David and Matthew. Joplin's hobbies include travel and reading.

Judge P. Thomas Thornbrugh
Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals

Appointed by:
Gov. Mary Fallin

Retention date:
September 2, 2011

Thornbrugh, 64, has been a district judge since 1997, when he was appointed by then-Gov. Frank Keating. Since July 2009, Thornbrugh has been the presiding judge, chosen by his colleagues, for the judicial district that consists of Tulsa and Pawnee counties. The job of presiding judge carries administrative and budget responsibilities and involves extra duties regarding jurors, the public and other judges. In a move that was designated previously, District Judge William Kellough will succeed Thornbrugh as presiding judge. Thornbrugh, who handles a civil docket, said he hopes to begin his new duties around Oct. 1. His promotion to the appeals court will create a vacant Tulsa County district judgeship. After an application process, the state Judicial Nominating Commission will screen candidates and select finalists for the appointment, with Fallin to appoint the new district judge. Before being appointed to the district court bench, Thornbrugh spent more than 20 years in a private law practice in Tulsa.