Oklahoma judge requires offenders to go to company that pays him rent
Cleveland County Special Judge Steve Stice is ordering offenders in aggravated drunken-driving cases to use a private company, Oklahoma Court Services, for probation monitoring. The judge is a part-owner in a business that gets monthly rent payments from Oklahoma Court Services.
Stice, a former criminal defense attorney, owns a third of ACS Enterprises LLC, which owns four buildings near the courthouse. His partner, Marty Coltrane, said the judge is a silent partner and the judge does not manage any of the buildings.
ACS Enterprises was formed years before Stice became a judge.
Oklahoma Court Services is a tenant in one of ACS Enterprises' buildings. Oklahoma Court Services owner, Julia Curry, said it pays $2,321 a month in rent.
Curry and Stice once were co-owners of a similar business, Cleveland County Pretrial Services LLC.
Because he was becoming a judge, Stice sold his half of Cleveland County Pretrial Services to Curry for $99,000, records show. “That was a no-brainer,” the judge said.
The judge is getting paid in installments of $1,650 a month for five years.
Cleveland County Pretrial Services also is a tenant of ACS Enterprises. Cleveland County Pretrial Services pays $1,148 per month in rent, Curry said. The county pays Cleveland County Pretrial Services up to $15,000 a month to operate, she said
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals in October ruled against Mashburn in October when the prosecutor challenged the judge's use of a private company in aggravated drunken-driving cases.
Mashburn said he now is seeking a legislative solution — that would require a judge to have a prosecutor's consent to send an offender to a private supervision company.
He said prosecutors are telling legislators “please … let's fix this so that a judge just can't wake up one day and … say, ‘I've decided not to give you this class,' or wake up one day and say, ‘You know what, I've decided not to give you anything.'”
Mashburn said, “The worry is that you're going to have a judge hold some kind of appeal against you … and then his way to get you back is to go around you with supervision fees.”
Stice said he began sending aggravated drunken-driving cases to the private company only because the law changed in November 2010. He said legislators added new requirements for supervising offenders while on probation “that I know the DA doesn't do.”
“If I wanted to bankrupt the DA for some reason or I wanted to line Julia's pockets with a ton of money, I'd send everything” to the private company, Stice said.