ACLU files suit challenging eligibility of Gov. Fallin's Supreme Court choice

The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma reports that they will be filing a lawsuit challenging the eligibility of Governor Mary Fallin's appointment to the state Supreme Court.

The ACLU announced their suit during a press conference Feb. 14 at the State Capitol. The suit challenges the eligibility of the appointment of 35-year-old Patrick Wyrick to the vacant seat in the 2nd Supreme Court Judicial District. They say the challenge is to "protect the constitution" of Oklahoma and are representing two residents of District 2 who say their rights to representation on the court have been violated.

"To our knowledge this is unprecedented," said ACLU-OK legal director Brady Henderson, "We simply haven't seen it before in Oklahoma."

The ACLU-OK said its actions are to defend the state constitution.

"At the end of the day, we're not asking the court to make a decision about the qualification of a fellow justice to sit on that court his fitness to serve on that court," said ACLU-OK director Ryan Kiesel.

There are special requirements for a person looking to fill a spot on the Oklahoma Supreme Court. According to the Judicial Nominating Commission in addition to being an attorney or a judge, applicants must be 30 or older and have been a qualified elector in the 2nd Supreme Court Judicial District for at least one year immediately prior to the date of appointment.

According to voter records from the Oklahoma State Election Board, Wyrick registered to vote in Atoka County on October 12 of 2016. Atoka County is in the 2nd Supreme Court Judicial District. Wyrick’s registration happened just two months after the vacancy to the court was announced.

Voter records do not indicate Wyrick has voted in any recent election in Atoka County. In fact, the state election board said records show Wyrick last voted in the March 2016 Presidential Primary in Cleveland County.

According to the Oklahoma State Election Board, the law requires someone to register to vote where they live.

Wyrick's voting record could soon be the target of a criminal investigation. The Oklahoma Democratic Party said it could petition for a grand jury to investigate illegal voting activity.

"There's a contradiction," said Democratic Party chair Mark Hammons, "Either he was a lawful resident in Cleveland County in March and voted legally, or he voted fraudulently in Cleveland County and should be subject to the same criminal penalties as any other person who casts a fraudulent vote.

According to the ACLU's lawsuit Wyrick voted multiple times in jurisdictions and precincts he was not eligible to vote in during the past 16 years. The votes were cast under registered addresses that were different from addresses where Wyrick lived.

"This is not the conduct of a justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court," Hammons said. "We will not sit idly by while the Republican party continues to attack the independence of the judiciary by making a partisan appointment of an unqualified individual."

Cleveland County property records show Wyrick and his wife own a home in Oklahoma City. They previously owned another home in Moore. His application for the judicial opening indicates almost all of his adult life has been spent living outside the 2nd Judicial District. However, that same application says he has been a resident of that district since birth.

FOX 25 has made multiple attempts to contact Wyrick both before and after his appointment. We've also emailed the members of the Judicial Nominating Commission who would have had the first look at Wyrick's application, but none of the members have returned our message.

The governor's office has also not responded to FOX 25's direct questions about Wyrick's nomination and appointment.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off