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History of the Court


The highest court in the State with exclusive appellate jurisdiction in criminal cases was established and named the Criminal Court of Appeals by the First Legislature, R.S.(1907-08) when it enacted House Bill 397. The Act provided "If in any case appealed to the Criminal Court of Appeals, in which the construction of the Constitution of this State, or of the United States, or any Act of Congress is brought in question, the said Criminal Court of Appeals shall certify to the Supreme Court of the State, the question involving the construction of the Constitution of this State, or of the United States, or any Act of Congress for final determination of the question so certified." The Act further provided that the judges should be appointed by the Governor, by and with the consent and advice of the Senate. The Judges appointed were to hold office until January 1, 1911, when the Court was to terminate, unless continued by the Legislature.

The Second Legislature, R.S. (1909) enacted House Bill 33 which perpetuated the Criminal Court of Appeals. The act repealed all prior laws in conflict and gave the Court exclusive appellate jurisdiction. In case of a vacancy in the office of a judge of unexpired term, or until the first succeeding biennial election. The judges of the Court who were in office at the time the act took effect were to continue in office until the expiration of their term of office under their appointment, and until their successors were duly elected and qualified. The Act further provided for the first election of judges at the General Election in 1910. The State was divided into three Criminal Court of Appeals Judicial Districts, designated respectively as the Eastern, Northern and Southern Criminal Court of Appeals Judicial Districts.

The Twenty-seventh Legislature, R.S. (1959) enacted Senate Bill 36, which changed the name from Criminal Court of Appeals to Court of Criminal Appeals.

At a Special Election, July 11, 1967, constitutional amendments were adopted to provide a complete reorganization of Oklahoma courts. Beginning in 1968, judges of the Court of Criminal Appeals ran on a non-partisan statewide retention ballot at the General Election only. If retained by the voters, judges serve a 6-year term. If rejected, the vacancy is filled by appointment of the Governor.