TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- In his first state Supreme Court
appointment, Gov. Frank Keating selected Judge Daniel Boudreau of
the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals to succeed retiring Justice
Robert Simms on the state's highest court.
"It was a very difficult selection process because there really
were three wonderful candidates," Keating said. "But one
individual is significant. One individual is an intellect. One
individual is of enormous integrity and is gifted of mind and that
is Daniel Boudreau."
Boudreau and his wife, Mary, stood alongside Keating. Also at
the news conference Tuesday were five judges of the state Court of
Civil Appeals, where Boudreau serves as vice chief judge.
"I am very anxious to have a strict constructionist, an
individual who focuses not on making the law ... but on
interpreting it," Keating said.
Boudreau will succeed Simms, who is leaving the Supreme Court
after 27 years. The 73-year-old Simms served as chief judge from
Keating called Simms an "outstanding jurist" and said it was
only appropriate to name his successor in Simms' hometown of Tulsa.
Boudreau served as a special judge and a district court judge in
Tulsa County from 1980 to 1992. He received his law degree from the
University of Tulsa and a master's degree from Rutgers University.
He has an undergraduate degree from Boston College.
"I expect to be a judge, as I have in the past, that exercises
judicial restraint," Boudreau said. "I have an awareness that the
Legislature in this state has a responsibility to declaring public
policy and not the court.
"The responsibility of judges is to decide cases and
controversy before them on as narrow basis as possible"
It has been seven years since a justice has been named to the
Supreme Court, when Gov. David Walters appointed Justice Joseph
Watt in May 1992.
Boudreau's appointment still leaves one vacancy on the
nine-member Supreme Court. Justice Alma Wilson died in July.
Keating said he expects a list of three finalists for Wilson's spot
from the Judicial Nominating Commission within a month.
"I am very sensitive in the judicial selection process to find
the very best people as a result of my own legal background and my
pride in being a lawyer," said Keating, who served as a U.S.
attorney from 1981 to 1986 in Tulsa.
The judicial nominating process has been criticized by Rep. Opio
Toure, who said it discriminates against minorities.
Toure, D-Oklahoma City, told the Tulsa World that he will seek
changes to the state constitution regarding appointments to the
state Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals.
Oklahoma has never had a black person appointed to the high
court or the Court of Criminal Appeals, Toure said. He said he
would push for a constitutional amendment to increase the number of
finalists to five so the governor has a greater choice. He also
said he wants the governor to be able to reject all finalists if he
determines that the nominating commission was biased.
Toure said he was "absolutely outraged" that the nominating
commission failed to interview the lone black applicant for the
vacant position left by Ms. Wilson. Norman attorney Melvin Hall,
one of 17 applicants for the post, said he learned last week that
he would not receive an interview. He was not told why.
James E. Pence, the chairman of the Judicial Nominating
Commission, would not comment on Toure's charges.
"Our people work very hard on the nominations," Pence said.
"We try to do our best to send three candidates to the governor
that are the most worthy of the position."