A former Creek County judge convicted of exposing himself by using a sexual device while on the bench will lose his judicial retirement pay, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.
Donald D. Thompson was getting $7,789 a month when his judicial retirement benefits were cut off in September 2006.
He lost those benefits on grounds his conduct violated his oath of his judicial office when he was convicted of indecent exposure.
The Supreme Court's ruling upheld a decision by the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System Board of Trustees. The high court's ruling was unanimous.
Thompson served about 20 months in prison after being found guilty in 2006 of four felony counts for his use of a penis pump while presiding over trials.
Thompson had asked for reinstatement of his entire judicial retirement benefits that covered the period he was on the bench from 1982 until August 2004.
Thompson appealed to Oklahoma County District Court, which upheld the board's decision. He then appealed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
“The uncontested facts revealed multiple felonies committed while Mr. Thompson presided over jury trials, and the offended parties included court personnel,” wrote Justice James Winchester in the court's opinion.
“Court reporters observed the felonious exposure of Mr. Thompson's private parts, and testified to the fact during the criminal trial. That trial resulted in conviction of felonies. Those felonies violated Mr. Thompson's oath of office.”
The uncontested evidence presented by the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System is “sufficient to support forfeiture,” Winchester wrote.
Thompson's attorneys had argued the convictions should have resulted in the forfeiture of only the retirement benefits during his last term in office, which began in 2003.
The Supreme Court ruled that interpretation would unfairly benefit state officials who were elected to multiple terms in office.
“Under his suggested construction, Mr. Thompson would lose less than four years of benefits after serving 22 years as a district judge, while an employee of the state who was employed 22 years and commits a felony that violates the oath of office taken when the employment commenced, would lose a total of 22 years of benefits,” Winchester wrote.
“We see no reason to believe the Legislature intended such a disproportionate penalty between state employees and state officers for violation of their oaths of office,” he wrote.
The ruling will not affect Thompson's own contributions to his pension or the retirement benefits that he received during his six years as a state legislator from 1974-80.
Legislators passed the forfeiture statute in 1981. It was not retroactive.