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Oklahoma Supreme Court selection facing critics

Patrick Wyrick

OKLAHOMA CITY – Gov. Mary Fallin has named a new justice to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

On Thursday, Fallin named 35-year-old Patrick Wyrick to serve on the Oklahoma Supreme Court after Steven Taylor retired from the bench last year.

Wyrick has served as solicitor general in the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office since 2011, where he represented the state before the U.S. and Oklahoma supreme courts. He also authored attorney general opinions and served as a key legal adviser to a variety of state officials.

“Patrick Wyrick is well positioned to tackle the difficult constitutional questions the Oklahoma Supreme Court must confront,” said Fallin. “He has litigated several significant constitutional law cases involving almost every frequently litigated provision in our state constitution. I have confidence he will perform his new duties with integrity and professionalism.”

“Patrick is an exceptional choice to serve on our state’s Supreme Court. As a constitutional scholar well-versed in both state and federal law, Patrick will bring a robust judicial philosophy to his work on the Court. More than a superb lawyer, I have come to know Patrick over the years as a dear friend and trusted counselor. His wisdom, compassion, and integrity are unparalleled among the many public servants with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working,” Attorney General Scott Pruitt said.

“Serving as Oklahoma’s first Solicitor General, he has played an integral role in the state’s effort to defend the rule of law. Patrick will be greatly missed, but I take comfort in knowing that his passion in serving the people of Oklahoma will continue in this new capacity. Congratulations, my friend.”

However, critics are taking a closer look at the selection.

The 35-year-old made headlines last year when he was taken to task by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor while the Court looked into Oklahoma’s lethal injection drug.

“I- I have a real problem with whatever you’re reading, because I’m going to have to go back to the article. I am substantially disturbed that in your brief you made factual statements that were not supported by the cited– of those sources and in fact directly contradicted. I’m going to give you just three small examples among many I found. So nothing you say or read to me am I going to believe, frankly, until I see it with my own eyes the context, okay?” Justice Sotomayor said.

You can read the full text of the questioning here. 

One month later, Wyrick sent a letter to the Supreme Court, saying he accidentally cited a letter from the Texas Department of Corrections. However, he had told the Court that the letter came from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court upheld Oklahoma’s use of the controversial drug midazolam.