Oklahoma justice sues colleagues for age discrimination

Wednesday, January 5th 2005, 5:39 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A member of Oklahoma's highest court got passed over for chief justice, and now he's suing his eight colleagues because he thinks they skipped him because of his age. He's 83

Justice Marian P. Opala filed a lawsuit last week in federal district court, charging he was discriminated against when his fellow justices changed a rule to allow the chief justice to serve consecutive terms. The post had been rotated every two years.

The rule change in November allowed Chief Justice Joseph M. Watt to succeed himself. Opala would have been in line to lead the court.

In his lawsuit, Opala described himself as in good health and of sound mind. He said his age was ``a significant factor'' in being passed over for chief justice, a post that carries with it ``ceremonial duties'' and a bigger paycheck. A justice earns an annual salary of $107,000, the chief justice $110,000.

Opala wants the federal court to void the rule change.

Watt said he was served a summons Monday morning in the case but declined further comment.