Justia Oklahoma Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Criminal Law
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Kyle Trusty was arrested for driving under the influence after crashing his vehicle. Trusty was taken to the hospital where he consented to a blood test to determine his blood alcohol content. The blood was drawn by a nurse at the hospital, and the arresting officer sent the sample to the police lab. Upon receiving the results, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) revoked Trusty's driver's license. Trusty appealed, and the trial court vacated the revocation because DPS did not call the nurse who drew the blood as a witness to establish that the withdrawal was done in compliance with rules and regulations of the Board of Tests for Alcohol and Drug Influence. DPS appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Oklahoma Supreme Court affirmed. View "Trusty v. Oklahoma" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Rodney Dutton sought an extraordinary writ at the Oklahoma Supreme Court to challenge his convictions in three criminal proceedings in the municipal court for The City of Midwest City. He also requested an alternative remedy that would compel the District Court to provide him with a new appeal of his convictions in the District Court. Dutton alleged that in 2013, he was convicted in the municipal court of the City of Midwest City on charges of assault, public intoxication, and domestic assault and battery, for which he received a thirty-day jail sentence. He stated that he filed three applications for post-conviction relief at the District Court after his release. The District Court dismissed the applications on grounds that they should have been filed with the municipal court in Midwest City. His application for the Supreme Court to assume original jurisdiction was filed approximately one year and three months after his release. Dutton's claims, construed liberally because of his pro se status, alleged numerous constitutional violations and procedural errors at the municipal and district courts that entitled him to the relief he sought. The Supreme Court assumed original jurisdiction for the sole purpose of determining its jurisdiction to review Petitioner's allegations. After review, the Court held that it did not possess jurisdiction to either review the merits of Petitioner's cause of action challenging his municipal criminal convictions or compel the District Court to provide him with a new direct appeal of those convictions to the District Court. Dutton failed to show that he lacked adequate remedies in either a municipal court or the District Court. Dutton's claims were criminal matters and the Supreme Court declined to assume original jurisdiction on his claims or grant him relief on them without prejudice to him presenting them, in the proper court. View "Dutton v. City of Midwest City" on Justia Law

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The State started forefeiture proceedings against a 2011 Honda following a drug arrest. Ashley Bickle was the titled owner of the car, and she was a passenger in the car at the time drugs were found. Craig and Pam Bickle were Ashley's parents and were also listed on the title as owners of the Honda. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Craig and Pam Bickle, finding that the two were entitled to the "innocent owner defense" and possession of the Honda. The Court of Civil Appeals, on de novo review, reversed and remanded for further proceedings. After its review, the Supreme Court concluded that the legislature did not intend for innocent owners to be deprived of their ownership rights by the actions of a guilty party in a vehicle forfeiture proceeding. The statute does not address the specific set of facts presented by this appeal; it addressed a scenario where the owner commits the offense making the vehicle subject to forfeiture. The Court reversed the appellate court and reinstated the judgment of the district court. View "Oklahoma ex rel. Harris v. 2011 Honda" on Justia Law

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Condemned prisoners Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner filed a declaratory judgment action to challenge various practices by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections in carrying out their death penalty sentences. The district court denied most relief requested, but did declare 22 O.S.2011, section 1015(B), to be unconstitutional. The prisoners appealed. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed that part of the declaratory judgment that denied condemned prisoners relief and reversed that part that declared 22 O.S.2011, section 1015(B), to be unconstitutional. View "Lockett v. Evans" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellee Mark Muratore was arrested for driving under the influence. He submitted to a breathalyzer test, administered using the Intoxilyzer 8000. As a result of the test, the Department of Public Safety revoked plaintiff's driver's license for one year, and he appealed the revocation to the District Court of Oklahoma County on issues of the admissibility of the breathalyzer test. The trial court vacated the revocation of plaintiff's driver's license, finding that the Board of Tests had no rules in place governing maintenance procedures for the Intoxilyzer 8000 and that the manufacturer's certificate of calibration for this particular Intoxliyzer 8000 and the supplier's certificate of analysis for the gas canister used as a reference method for the Intoxilyzer 8000 were inadmissible hearsay. The Court of Civil Appeals reversed. After its review, the Supreme Court concluded the trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to admit the manufacturer's certificate of calibration and the supplier's certificate of analysis. Furthermore, the Court found that the Department of Public Safety did not meet its threshold burden of proving all the facts necessary to sustain the revocation of plaintiff's license, and the record supported the trial court's decision to vacate the revocation of plaintiff's license. View "Muratore v. Oklahoma ex rel. Dept. of Public Safety" on Justia Law

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Petitioner-Appellee, Jerry Butler pled guilty to two counts of "Sexual Abuse of a Minor Child" and received two five-year deferred sentences which ran consecutively. Sometime thereafter, Butler began registration under the Sex Offenders Registration Act. The district court in Sequoyah County issued an order expunging Butler's plea from the record, deleting all references to his name from the docket sheet, deleting the public index of the filing of the charge, and providing no information concerning the file shall (unless ordered by the court). Butler filed a Petition for Injunction to permanently enjoin the Respondent-Appellant, Justin Jones ex rel., State of Oklahoma ex rel., Oklahoma Department of Corrections from requiring him to continue registering under SORA. He argued requiring him to register violated his rights to equal protection of the laws and to due process of law. The Department filed a Motion to Dismiss alleging Butler's deferred sentences and expungement were unlawful. The district court granted a permanent injunction against the Department, finding Butler's case presented an unusual and narrow circumstance and he was indeed denied equal protection of the law. The Supreme Court disagreed with the district court and reversed and remanded its decision for further proceedings. View "Butler v. Jones" on Justia Law

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The Department of Public Safety (DPS) revoked Plaintiff-Appellant Kevin Hedrick's driver's license for 180 days following his arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants. He filed an appeal with the District Court and attached a photocopy of the order which DPS mailed to him when it revoked his license. DPS objected to the trial court's jurisdiction, arguing that Hedrick had not provided the trial court with a certified copy of its revocation order. DPS refused to provide a certified copy, insisting that it was under no obligation to do so. The trial court dismissed the appeal, and the Court of Civil Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court granted certiorari to address whether a certified copy of a DPS order was required to perfect an appeal of a DPS revocation to the district court; and whether the appeal was timely. Upon review, the Court held that that 47 O.S. Supp. 2007 section 2-111 expressly deems photocopies of DPS records to be considered originals for all purposes and to be admissible as evidence in all courts. Also, pursuant to 12 O.S. 2011 section 3004(3), a certified copy of the DPS order was not required. Furthermore, the appeal was timely. View "Hedrick v. Commissioner of Dept. of Public Safety" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellee Christopher Luster filed a Petition for Temporary and Permanent Injunction, Temporary Restraining Order, and Declaratory Relief to enjoin the State of Oklahoma ex rel., Department of Corrections, from enforcing the Sex Offenders Registration Act against him. The trial court consolidated this case with those of other plaintiffs filing similar actions and granted a permanent injunction to all the consolidated plaintiffs. On appeal the Department asserted the Legislature's intent was clear in applying the provisions of SORA retroactively. For the same reasons the Oklahoma Supreme Court held the provisions of SORA in effect upon a person being convicted in Oklahoma or entering Oklahoma were the only SORA provisions that should apply to the sex offender, the Court held the frequency of SORA verification in effect at that time was also the applicable provision. The correct registration requirements to apply are those in effect when the sex offender was either convicted in Oklahoma or when a sex offender convicted in another jurisdiction enters Oklahoma and becomes subject to those registration requirements. Therefore, the Court reversed the trial court's Order applying a blanket one-year registration frequency to the consolidated plaintiffs who must continue registering. View "Luster v. Oklahoma ex rel Dept. of Corrections" on Justia Law

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Appellant filed a Motion to Override Risk Level Classification under the Sex Offenders Registration Act (SORA). The trial court ruled it did not have jurisdiction to grant the relief requested. The trial court record did not reflect when appellant was first required to register, but he began actual registration in the summer of 2007. Following appellant's initial registration, the State of Oklahoma ex rel. Oklahoma Department of Corrections, notified appellant that he had been assigned a numeric risk level of three and would thereafter have to register for life. Appellant claimed that prior to this determination of a level assignment he was only required to register for ten years. Appellant filed a Motion to Override Risk Level Classification and Brief in Support in 2009. Less than two weeks after appellant filed his motion, new amendments to SORA took effect. In light of the amendments, the trial court ruled it lacked jurisdiction to grant appellant relief. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that the Department could not retroactively increase his registration period. As such the trial court had jurisdiction over appellant's case. The matter was reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Burk v. Oklahoma" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Joseph W. Hendricks challenged the constitutionality of the Sex Offenders Registration Act ("SORA") and its enforcement. Upon review, the Supreme Court held that applying SORA's requirements to sex offenders now residing in Oklahoma who were convicted in another jurisdiction prior to SORA's enactment but not applying the same requirements to a person convicted in Oklahoma of a similar offense prior to SORA's enactment, violates a person's equal protection guarantees. View "Hendricks v. Jones" on Justia Law