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Oklahoma Supreme Court appointee postpones taking oath until legal challenge is resolved

Oklahoma County District Judge Noma Gurich says she wants to postpone taking her oath as a state Supreme Court justice until a legal challenge involving judicial nominations is decided. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the case this week and has taken the matter under advisement.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Published: February 12, 2011

The latest appointee to the state Supreme Court said Friday she is waiting to join the high court until a legal challenge over judicial appointments is resolved.

It's been more than a month since former Gov. Brad Henry — in one of his last official acts before leaving office — named Oklahoma County District Judge Noma Gurich as his record-setting sixth appointment to the nine-member Supreme Court.

Gurich, who has served as an Oklahoma County district judge since 1998, could have been sworn in anytime after Henry made the appointment because the position is vacant. She succeeds Marian Opala, who died Oct. 11.

Three days before his term expired Jan. 10, Henry, who could not seek a third successive four-year term, selected Gurich from three judges submitted by the Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission. The commission had submitted the names a week earlier.

Republicans had asked Henry, a Democrat, to not make the appointment and leave the decision for his successor, Republican Gov. Mary Fallin.

The constitutionality of the Judicial Nominating Commission was discussed during oral arguments this week in a lawsuit before the state Supreme Court. The court took the case under advisement.

“I'm not making any plans until we get a decision,” Gurich said Friday. “I'm glad they got to do oral arguments this week so we're moving forward.”

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