Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals

History of the Court

The highest court in the State with exclusive appellate
jurisdiction in criminal cases was established and named the
Criminal Court of Appeals by the First Legislature, R.S.
(1907-08) when it enacted House Bill 397. The Act provided
"If in any case appealed to the Criminal Court of Appeals,
in which the construction of the Constitution of this State, or
of the United States, or any Act of Congress is brought in
question, the said Criminal Court of Appeals shall certify to the
Supreme Court of the State, the question involving the
construction of the Constitution of this State, or of the United
States, or any Act of Congress for final determination of the
question so certified." The Act further provided that the
judges should be appointed by the Governor, by and with the
consent and advice of the Senate. The Judges appointed were to
hold office until January 1, 1911, when the Court was to
terminate, unless continued by the Legislature.
The Second Legislature, R.S. (1909) enacted House Bill 33 which
perpetuated the Criminal Court of Appeals. The act repealed all
prior laws in conflict and gave the Court exclusive appellate
jurisdiction. In case of a vacancy in the office of a judge of
unexpired term, or until the first succeeding biennial election.
The judges of the Court who were in office at the time the act
took effect were to continue in office until the expiration of
their term of office under their appointment, and until their
successors were duly elected and qualified. The Act further
provided for the first election of judges at the General Election
in 1910. The State was divided into three Criminal Court of
Appeals Judicial Districts, designated respectively as the
Eastern, Northern and Southern Criminal Court of Appeals Judicial
The Twenty-seventh Legislature, R.S. (1959) enacted Senate Bill
36, which changed the name from Criminal Court of Appeals to
Court of Criminal Appeals. At a Special Election, July 11, 1967, constitutional amendments
were adopted to provide a complete reorganization of Oklahoma
courts. Beginning in 1968, judges of the Court of Criminal
Appeals ran on a non-partisan statewide retention ballot at the
General Election only. If retained by the voters, judges serve a
6-year term. If rejected, the vacancy is filled by appointment of
the Governor.