Justia Oklahoma Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Constitutional Law
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Voters in the City of Enid presented a recall petition to City of Enid officials. The petition sought to recall plaintiff-appellant, City Commissioner Ben Ezzell for his support of a city wide mask mandate to combat the COVID epidemic. Ezzell objected to the recall petition, alleging that because the recall petition did not comply with the requirements of 34 O.S. 2011 section 3 and 34 O.S. Supp. 2015 section 6, which related to signature collection, the recall petition was insufficient. After a hearing, the trial court denied Ezzell's protest and determined that the petition was sufficient under the City Charter of Enid recall process. Ezzell appealed. The Oklahoma Supreme Court held there was no conflict between the City Charter recall process, and the additional state requirements of 34 O.S. 2011 sec. 3 and 34 O.S. Supp. 2015 sec. 6, the state statutes governed, but were not properly followed. The recall petition was therefore insufficient on its face pursuant to Clapsaddle v. Blevins, 66 P.3d 352, and its predecessors. View "Ezzell v. Lack" on Justia Law

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The Oklahoma Supreme Court previously declared that certain tribal gaming compacts the Oklahoma Executive branch entered into with the Comanche and Otoe-Missouria Tribes were invalid under Oklahoma law because the gaming compacts authorized certain forms of Class III gaming prohibited by state law. While "Treat I" was pending before the Supreme Court, the Executive branch entered into two additional compacts with the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and the Kialegee Tribal Town. The parties to the compacts submitted the tribal gaming compacts to the United States Department of the Interior, and the Department of the Interior deemed them approved by inaction, only to the extent they are consistent with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). The Oklahoma Supreme Court determined these new compacts were also not valid: for the new compacts to be valid under Oklahoma law, the Executive branch must have negotiated the new compacts within the statutory bounds of the Model Tribal Gaming Compact (Model Compact) or obtained the approval of the Joint Committee on State-Tribal Relations. Without proper approval by the Joint Committee, the new tribal gaming compacts were invalid under Oklahoma law. View "Treat v. Stitt" on Justia Law

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Defendant the City of Tulsa (City), passed an ordinance creating a tourism improvement district that encompassed all properties within City which had hotels or motels with 110 or more rooms available for occupancy. Plaintiff-appellee Toch, LLC owned Aloft Downtown Tulsa (Aloft) with 180 rooms. Toch petitioned for a declaratory judgment that the ordinance was invalid for a variety of reasons, including that the district did not include all hotels with at least 50 rooms available. The court granted summary judgment to Toch based on its determination that City exceeded the authority granted in title 11, section 39-103.1. The question before Oklahoma Supreme Court was whether section 39-103.1 granted authority to municipalities to limit a tourism improvement district to a minimum room-count of a number larger than 50. To this, the Court answered in the affirmative, reversed the trial court, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Toch, LLC v. City of Tulsa" on Justia Law

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Through mediation efforts in connection with a federal lawsuit pending in the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, Respondent, the Honorable J. Kevin Stitt, Governor of Oklahoma, negotiated and entered into new tribal gaming compacts with the Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribes to increase state gaming revenues. The tribal gaming compacts were submitted to the United States Department of the Interior, and the Department of the Interior deemed them approved by inaction, only to the extent they were consistent with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). The Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribes were not parties to this matter; these tribes were sovereign nations and have not submitted to the jurisdiction of the Oklahoma Supreme Court. The limited question presented to the Oklahoma Supreme Court was whether Governor Stitt had the authority to bind the State with respect to the new tribal gaming compacts with the Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribes. To this, the Supreme Court held he did not. The tribal gaming compacts Governor Stitt entered into with the Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribes authorized certain forms of Class III gaming, including house-banked card and table games and event wagering. Any gaming compact to authorize Class III gaming had to be validly entered into under state law, and it was Oklahoma law that determined whether the compact was consistent with the IGRA. The tribal gaming compacts Governor Stitt entered into with the Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribes were invalid under Oklahoma law. The State of Oklahoma was not and could not be legally bound by those compacts until such time as the Legislature enacted laws to allow the specific Class III gaming at issue, and in turn, allowing the Governor to negotiate additional revenue. View "Treat v. Stitt" on Justia Law

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In 2019, Respondents Ryan Kiesel and Michelle Tilley filed State Question No. 807, Initiative Petition No. 423 (SQ 807) with the Secretary of State of Oklahoma. SQ 807 proposes for submission to the voters the creation of a new constitutional article, Article 31, which would legalize, regulate, and tax the use of marijuana by adults under Oklahoma law. Petitioner Paul Tay filed this protest alleging the petition was unconstitutional because it violated the federal supremacy provisions of Article VI, clause 2 of the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 1 of the Oklahoma Constitution. Petitioner alleged the proposed measure was preempted by existing federal statutes including the Controlled Substances Act, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, and Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code. Because the United States Supreme Court did not address this question, the Oklahoma Supreme Court found the Supremacy Clause permitted it to perform its own analysis of federal law. Upon review, the Court held Petitioner did not meet his burden to show clear or manifest facial constitutional infirmities because he did not show State Question No. 807 was preempted by federal law. On the grounds alleged, the petition was deemed legally sufficient for submission to the people of Oklahoma. View "In re: State Question No. 807, Initiative Petition No. 423" on Justia Law

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During the 2019 Legislative Session, the Oklahoma Legislature passed HB 2597. Prior to the passage of HB 2597, the Oklahoma criminal code provided it was unlawful to carry a concealed or unconcealed handgun without a license. HB 2597 instituted what was known as "permitless carry" or "constitutional carry." This was accomplished by amending the Oklahoma criminal code to create a new exception to the law generally prohibiting the carrying of firearms. In an original proceeding before the Oklahoma Supreme Court an issue arose over the gist of Initiative Petition No. 425, State Question No. 809. The initiative petition sought to amend the Oklahoma Statutes for the purpose of making it unlawful to carry a concealed or unconcealed handgun without a license. The Petitioner filed this protest alleging the gist of the initiative petition was legally insufficient. The Supreme Court held the gist did not accurately explain the proposal's effect on existing law and is misleading. View "In re: Initiative Petition No. 425, State Question No. 809" on Justia Law

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In October 2019, the Respondents-Proponents Andrew Moore, Janet Ann Largent, and Lynda Johnson filed Initiative Petition No. 420, State Question No. 804 (IP 420), with the Secretary of State of Oklahoma. The initiative measure proposed for submission to the voters the creation of a new constitutional article, Article V-A, which would create the Citizens' Independent Redistricting Commission (Commission). IP 420 was challenged in two separate cases. On February 4, 2020, the Oklahoma Supreme Court handed down its decisions in both matters. Two days later, February 6, 2020, the proponents of IP 420 filed a new initiative petition (Initiative Petition No. 426, State Question 810). The Secretary of State published the required notice of the initiative petition on February 13, 2020. Initiative Petition No. 426 (IP 426) was nearly identical to IP 420, creating a new constitutional article, Article V-A, which would create the Citizens' Independent Redistricting Commission (Commission). Like IP 420, it would vest the power to redistrict the State's House of Representatives and Senatorial districts, as well as Federal Congressional Districts, in this newly created Commission. Initiative Petition No. 426, like IP 420, requires the Commission's Secretary to gather information from the Department of Corrections about the home address of state and federal inmates and add this information to the Federal Decennial Census data so that incarcerated people can be counted in their home communities rather than place of incarceration. The issue presented to the Supreme Court's original jurisdiction involved the legal sufficiency of Initiative Petition No. 426, State Question No. 810. The Petitioners contended the petition was unconstitutional because it violated Article 1, section 2, the Equal Protection Clause and the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Upon review, the Supreme Court held Petitioners did not meet their burden to show Initiative Petition No. 426 contained "clear or manifest facial constitutional infirmities." On the grounds alleged, the petition is legally sufficient for submission to the people of Oklahoma. View "In re: Initiative Petition No. 426 State Question No. 810" on Justia Law

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In 2010, plaintiff-appellant James Payne pled nolo contendere to stalking in Case No. CF-2010-27 in Pittsburg County, Oklahoma. He received a five-year deferment with special rules and conditions of probation. He was required to have no contact with the stalking victim. In addition, Payne pled guilty to violating a protective order in many other cases filed in Pittsburg County related to the same victim and was sentenced to six months in the county jail. The sentences were to run concurrently. He received extra credits and was released from custody on May 5, 2010. A month later, on June 10, 2010, the district attorney filed a motion to accelerate the deferred judgment for probation violations, alleging Payne had been contacting and harassing the victim. The district court issued a felony warrant and Payne was arrested and booked into jail by the Pittsburg County Sheriff's Office on June 11, 2010. Payne did not post bail and remained in the county jail. The district court ultimately executed a minute order finding Payne guilty of violating the terms of his deferred sentence, for which he received a five year sentence: four suspended and one year to serve in the Department of Corrections. Payne received credit for time served in the county jail since his June 10 arrest. The Judgment and Sentence ordered Payne into DOC custody and directed the Pittsburg Sheriff's office to transfer Payne to the Lexington Assessment and Reception Center to begin serving his time in DOC custody. The Sheriff's Office of Pittsburg County did not transfer Payne to the Lexington Assessment and Reception Center (LARC) until September 6, 2011, almost three months past the end of his sentence. Payne was released that same day without serving any of his time in DOC custody. Payne sue various Pittsburg county corrections and governmental officials, arguing his constitutional rights had been violated because he remained in custody beyond his sentence. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals affirmed. The Oklahoma Supreme Court granted certiorari on the remaining issue preserved for review, i.e., whether a private right of action under Article 2 Section 9 of the Oklahoma Constitution existed under the facts of this case. The Court held a private right of action existed at the time Payne was detained past his sentence, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Payne v. Kerns" on Justia Law

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Respondents-Proponents Andrew Moore, Janet Ann Largent, and Lynda Johnson filed Initiative Petition No. 420, State Question No. 804 (IP 420), with the Secretary of State of Oklahoma. The initiative measure proposed to submit to the voters the creation of a new constitutional article, Article V-A, which would create the Citizens' Independent Redistricting Commission (Commission). IP 420 would vest the power to redistrict the State's House of Representatives and Senatorial districts, as well as Federal Congressional Districts, in this newly created Commission. IP 420 would also repeal current constitutional provisions concerning state legislative apportionment. Notice of the filing was published on October 31, 2019; within 10 business days, Petitioners Rogers Gaddis and Eldon Merklin petitioned the Oklahoma Supreme Court in its original jurisdiction to challenge the legal sufficiency of IP 420. They alleged the proposed amendment by article suffered from two fatal constitutional defects: (1) the single subject rule, and (2) the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In case number 118405, the Supreme Court determined IP was legally sufficient for submission to the people of Oklahoma. In case number 118406, however, the Court determined the gist statement of IP 420 did not fairly describe the proposed amendment, and ordered it struck from the ballot. View "In re: Initiative Petition 420, State Question No. 804" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs-appellees, Cloudi Mornings and Austin Miller (collectively Cloudi Mornings) filed a Petition for Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief with the District Court of Tulsa County. In the petition, Cloudi Mornings stated that it was an L.L.C. with its primary business activities located within the City of Broken Arrow and that Austin Miller was a resident of Broken Arrow, and that as a "business within city limits," they had a vested interest in City enacted medical marijuana rules related to the voter approved June 26, 2018, Initiative Petition 788 which legalized medical marijuana in the State of Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Supreme Court retained this case to address the authority of a city, such as the City of Broken Arrow, to zone/regulate a medical marijuana establishment within city limits. However, because this case lacked any case or controversy as to these plaintiffs, and was merely a request for an advisory opinion, the Court dismissed the appeal. View "Cloudi Mornings, LLC v. City of Broken Arrow" on Justia Law