Judge Arlene Johnson of Nichols Hills died May 12. She was born Sept. 1, 1940 in Ramsey, Minnesota. She attended the University of Oklahoma, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in 1964.
She taught high school English in Moore, Oklahoma, before attending law school at the University of Oklahoma, receiving her Juris Doctor degree in 1971.From 1971 until 1973, she practiced law with the firm of Bulla and Horning in Oklahoma City. From 1973 until 1976, she served as law clerk to Judge Tom Brett of the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. Judge Johnson served as Assistant District Attorney for Oklahoma County from 1977 until 1980. From 1981 until 1983, she served as Chief Counsel to the Oklahoma State Senate. She also served as Assistant Attorney General in 1983. From 1977 until 1982, Judge Johnson also served as adjunct professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Law.
In 1983, Judge Johnson took a position with the United States Attorney’s Office in Oklahoma City, where she remained for over twenty years. She served as Chief of the Criminal Division in that office from 1995 to 2004, and received the United States Attorney General’s John Marshall Award for Outstanding Legal Achievement in connection with her work on the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing case. She was also awarded a Commendation for Exceptional Service in the Public Interest by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1998.
In 2005, Judge Johnson was appointed by Governor Brad Henry to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. In 2006, and again in 2012, she was retained by the voters of Oklahoma in that position. In November 2017, Judge Johnson retired from the bench.