An associate district judge told a state Supreme Court referee Tuesday he may have used the wrong words but he never banned an attorney from representing clients in Nowata County District Court.
“I didn’t ban the gentleman,” Associate District Judge Carl Gibson said during a hearing before Supreme Court referee Daniel Karim. “I’m perplexed that he would take that position. The situation indicating that there was a ban is just absolutely incorrect.”
The attorney, Perry Newman, of Owasso, said he is seeking clarification from the Supreme Court. He said he interpreted comments from Gibson that he was effectively banned from appearing in Nowata County District Court and he wanted assurances that he wouldn’t be punished with a contempt of court charge if he appeared on behalf of clients at the courthouse in Nowata.
“I don’t think he should handle any case that I’m ever an attorney of record on,” Newman said.
Gibson said he didn’t express himself well in his oral order and his intent was to say he wouldn’t hear two of Newman’s cases.
“I felt the obligation to discuss it with him, and I had not had good luck discussing things with Mr. Newman when there’s not a court reporter,” Gibson said. “Hindsight being 20-20 perhaps I should have just conducted the business that was in front of me and before me and perhaps handle it in a different manner. In my effort to discuss the matter, it made things worse.”
Newman and Gibson have sparred previously. Newman in 2010 successfully appealed a protective order Gibson issued against a client on behalf of the Nowata Senior Citizens Center; the client has sought several political offices in Nowata and has been a critic of Gibson.
Newman filed a judicial complaint against Gibson, but it was dismissed.
Karim said he would make a recommendation to the nine justices in the next couple days. The Supreme Court can accept or reject Karim’s recommendations. Newman said he wanted the Supreme Court to lift the Nowata County ban on him.
“Assuming there is one,” Karim said.
Newman said he asked the Supreme Court to get involved because he hadn’t gotten a timely response when he asked for guidance from the presiding judge of the judicial district and from the administrative judge over Nowata County.
“I feel like I’m operating in a wilderness,” he said.
Gibson in papers responding to Newman’s petition before the Supreme Court stated he and the other two judges had reached an agreement in which Gibson would not handle any of Newman’s cases for at least the next six months and maybe for the next year.
“It is probably best that I recuse for at least six months and perhaps a year,” Gibson said. “And we would look at it in a year.”
When Karim asked Newman whether that was acceptable, Newman said he didn’t know whether a year would be sufficient “to make sure that this matter doesn’t occur again.”
Newman also said he hadn’t received Gibson’s written response.
Karim ordered a break in the hearing and asked Newman to go in the hall and read Gibson’s response. When he returned, Karim asked him if he read anything that changed his position.
“I did not,” Newman replied.