OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Ken Luttrell, R-Ponca City, hosted an interim study Tuesday examining the modernization of rules of discovery and the Freedom of Information Act as they relate to trial lawyers. The study was attended and supported by Sen. Bill Coleman, R-Ponca City. It was held before the House Judiciary Committee.
The committee heard from a diverse group of panelists sharing their experiences, concerns and suggestions on how to improve the trial and court systems. The panel consisted of criminal, civil, personal injury, city and workers’ compensation attorneys as well as prosecutors, district attorneys and representatives from the Oklahoma District Attorneys Council, the Oklahoma Municipal League/ Oklahoma State University Professor Dr. Joey Senat spoke as an expert on the Freedom of Information Act.
“It was great to have the opportunity to hear opinions and ideas from both sides of the courtroom,” Luttrell said. “I look forward to more discussions in a non-adversarial setting as we move forward, and I appreciate the time these professionals took from their busy schedules to present to the Judiciary Committee. We want to protect the Freedom of Information Act while ensuring it is not abused. It is an essential part of open and transparent government available to all of our citizens and the media, and it must be protected.”
Issues with the trial and court system were discussed, including differences between civil and criminal rules, prosecutors’ and judges’ roles in the system, as well as the process and timing allowed for evidence and information requests. Some trial and evidence rules have been in effect in Oklahoma since 1910; others since 1990. Many panelists expressed the need to modernize the statutes.
Kay and Noble County District Attorney Brian Hermanson detailed how changes would impact those in the courtroom and the role of judges in evidence requests. Attorneys from both the plaintiff and the defendant side presented information on their clients’ experiences in the court system and the need for a more fair and level playing field.