Chamber's Criminal Justice Measure on Pre-Trial Release Becomes Law
The Chamber's Task Force on Criminal Justice Reform recommended two bills be pursued last session, one of which was delayed by need for an informal opinion by the Oklahoma Attorney General. This measure, SB 363 by Senator David Holt (R-Oklahoma City) (prior to his being sworn-in as mayor of Oklahoma City) and Representative Terry O'Donnell (R-Catoosa), sought to address the issue of jail overcrowding by giving special judges clear authority to grant pre-trial release to inmates who meet strict criteria. Significantly, the review by Attorney General Hunter's office determined that special judges did not have clear authority to grant pre-trial release under existing statutes. Increasingly, special judges are being called upon by district judges (who do have pre-trial release authority) to handle cases on lengthy criminal court dockets. SB 363 was passed in response to that review/informal opinion and provides special district court judges clear authority to issue pretrial release orders in appropriate cases. On March 8, SB 363 became the first policy bill signed by Governor Fallin this session.
For more information, please contact Mark VanLandingham.