The latest appointee to the state
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-
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.”
Jerry Fent, an Oklahoma City attorney, filed a lawsuit challenging the makeup of the commission, which nominates candidates for judicial appointments to the governor.
Fent's lawsuit claims some members of the commission were appointed as representatives of six congressional districts, but the state lost one of its congressional seats after the 2000 census, and the commission's makeup was not corrected.
State Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, claims in a legal challenge filed with the lawsuit that the commission should be made up according to a state question approved by voters in November. If the court agrees, that could affect some recent judicial appointments, including Gurich's.
In the meantime, Gurich said she has been working on her cases and making sure everything is up to date.
“Some other judge will be assigned to my caseload once I'm gone,” Gurich said.
“Right after I heard from Gov. Henry, you have that sense that you're just not going to be here much longer, but I've sort of got past that,” Gurich said. “I'm not doing anything extraordinary to move anything. I'm just trying to make sure that I work through everything.”