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?If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.? - 1 John 1:9

Vol. 120, 122, No. XXX 1 FRIDAY,






50 50 cents daily

Okla. lawmakers study judicial nomination changes

TIM TALLEY Associated Press OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) ? Frustrated with a recent Oklahoma Supreme Court decision that struck down civil justice reform legislation, state lawmakers launched a study Thursday into how members of the state?s highest court and appellate courts are chosen and how long they should serve. But proponents of replacing Oklahoma?s method for selecting justices and appeals court judges were opposed by former members of the state Judicial Nominating Commission and others who said Oklahoma?s merit selection and ballot retention method is an effective way to choose fair and impartial judges while keeping politics out of the process. ?I think the system is darn good and not broken,? said Lawton Mayor Fred Fitch, a former member of the JNC. ?I can?t see a lot of room for improvement.? Currently, the 15-member JNC, which includes six lawyers and nine nonlawyers, nominates candidates for appointment by the governor to fill vacancies on the Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeals and the Court of Civil Appeals. The judges serve six-year terms and appear on retention ballots on a rotating basis. Michael Evans, administrative director of the state?s courts, said Oklahoma?s process for selecting Supreme Court and appellate court judges has been in place since 1967 and is similar to processes in other states. Similar selection methods are in place in more than 30 other states, according to testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. ?We need to be sure that we have fair and impartial judges,? Evans said. ?The process works.? The study was requested by House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, who said he wants to make sure that the system of state government checks and balances created by the state Constitution is working. Shannon said the state?s judiciary is a vital part of state government and is potentially the most powerful. ?It is important that the judicial branch does not undo the will of voters,? Shannon said. Shannon requested the study in June just three days after the state Supreme Court struck down a 2009 lawsuit reform law that was a priority for Republican legislative leaders. The high court said the law was unconstitutional because it contained multiple subjects in violation of the state Constitution?s rule that requires legislation to cover just one subject. The Legislature approved a series of individual bills that reinstated the civil justice law during a special session in September. ?I believe the Oklahoma Supreme Court has acted at times as a ?Super Legislature?,? Shannon said after the hearing. ?It is my opinion the court has attempted to derail laws and reforms that are not only constitutional, but benefit our great state and provide greater opportunity and freedom for our citizens.? Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network, a Washington, D.C.-based lawsuit reform think tank, said the system places too much control in the selection of judges in a group of people who lack accountability. The lawyer members are elected by their lawyer peers; the nonlawyer members are appointed by various state officials. The members are appointed by various state officials, not popularly elected. Severino suggested lawmakers consider the federal system for selecting judges, in which a candidate is nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate, or be elected through partisan political campaigns like other state officials. ?The No. 1 issue is Democratic accountability,? she said. ?The election system is the best.? But others said requiring judges to raise and spend campaign money would force them to decide legal cases involving their contributors and could lead to scandals similar to one that rocked the Supreme Court in the 1960s in which justices were accused of accepting bribes and fixing decisions. ?The money?s going to follow that process,? Evans, the administrative director, said. He said it is inevitable that some decisions by the state Supreme Court and appellate courts will rankle lawmakers and others who disagree with them. ?Their job is not to be popular. Their job is to get it right,? Evans said. ?It?s called checks and balances. It serves government well.?

Local man charged with rape

A Calera man is facing charges of first-degree rape and domestic abuse: assault and battery after his girlfriend told police that he hit her and forced sex upon her. The girlfriend of Spencer Peacock, 22, told Calera Police that the two had gotten into an argument at a local restaurant during which Peacock stuck her. She said that the next morning she went to Peacock?s home where he then punched her in the An off-duty Durant police officer accused of a DUI crash has pleaded not guilty to the charge and is free on personal recognizance. Brandon S. Carbaugh, 36, Achille, charged with misdemeanor DUI, has his next court date set Dec. 12. He was charged last week for an Oct. 15 crash on Highway 91 near Achille. According to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Carbaugh was under the influence of alcohol when he rolled his pickup. He also was not wearing a seat belt, according to the OHP report. He was taken to the Medical Center of Southeastern Oklahoma to be treated for arm and leg injuries and released sometime later that day. He was sent a letter last week notifying him of the charge and ordering him to appear for court. stomach and forced himself on her after she told him she did not ?want to be messed with.? According to an affidavit, the woman said she did not stop Peacock when he began to have sex with her because she hoped it would calm him and she was afraid of what might happen if she stopped him. After the forced sex, the alleged victim said she began to bleed from

Court date set for Durant officer charged with DUI

See CHARGED | 2 Carbaugh is on paid administrative leave while the department conducts an internal investigation, according to Chief Durward Cook, who said last week that a decision will not be made on Carbaugh?s employment until the department knows all of the facts in the case. Carbaugh was recently recognized by the city for his five years of service with the department. Carbaugh is being represented by Warren Gotcher, an attorney in McAlester. In other news, Durant firefighters hosed down a Dumpster fire Thursday evening. Firefighters were dispatched at 9:16 p.m. to Calvary Baptist Church, 715 W. Louisiana St. Firefighters quickly put out the fire. A cause of the fire was not disclosed.

Saturday event at Red River Ford to help local food banks

Red River Ford is continuing its unique method of ?Driving Out Hunger.? For the sixth year, the Durant auto dealership is working with Bryan County United Way for its annual food drive. As part of the effort, Red River Ford has set a goal of 300 test drives this Saturday to earn a $6,000 donation toward the food drive from the Ford Motor Company. ?Ford Motor Company recently came up with this program to help dealers do more in their community,? said Darrell Mendez, owner of Red River Ford. ?We already had the food drive going on and since Ford is willing to donate up to $6,000 we decided to use this to make the food drive more successful. Plus, we get to meet a lot of people who are simply donating their time to help the less fortunate in our area.? Here?s how it works: Between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. this Saturday, everyone is urged to bring some non-perishable food to Red River Ford on Westside Drive, and sign up for a quick test drive and a short survey. Ford pays $20 for every test drive completed. ?We have a great team of volunteers helping with this, so we think it can go See FOOD | 2

Halloween celebrations take place all over Durant

Madison and Megan Murphree Dress as Pebbles and Wilma Flintstone at the Family Fun Festival held at the Choctaw Event Center on Halloween. Little Axel Brooks looked extra sweet in his Reese?s costume at the Downtown Trick-or-Treat event on Halloween. A firefighter encouraged Halloween fun by posing this popular horse-headed character in one of the department trucks. Jessica Breger photos | Durant Daily Democrat Costumed guests at the Family Fun Festival enjoy a cake walk last night. The Durant Elks Lodge handed out punpkins full of goodies for trick-or-treaters on Halloween. Monsters were poking monsters at the Downtown Trick-or- Treat in Durant. Durant candy lovers enjoy Downtown Trick-or-Treat for Halloween.

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