Trial begins for Oklahoma Co. District Judge’s possible removal from office

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The trial to remove Oklahoma County District Court Judge Kendra Coleman got underway Monday morning.

More than 100 witnesses may be called to testify in the trial which is expected to last about three weeks.

Judge Coleman was elected in 2018, receiving the largest percentage of victory of any district court judge in the county that year, a point her attorney, Joe White, pointed out in his opening statement Monday.

Since the beginning of her time in office, Coleman’s conduct both in and outside the courtroom has been under scrutiny, until finally she was suspended in June 2020.

“You’ll hear about issues with respect to taxes, issues with respect to ethics filings, issues with respect to credit card lawsuits. You will hear what I would call ancillary information to her tenure on the bench that affect the perception of the lawyers that were appearing before her on the criminal docket,” said prosecutor Tracy Schumacher Monday morning.

Allegations against Coleman include thousands of dollars owed in back taxes, and failure to report campaign contributions.

They also include allegations of wearing inappropriate clothing inside the courthouse during work hours, unprofessional conduct in the courthouse, and of unnecessarily demeaning attorneys and litigants in court.

On Monday, two prosecutors testified that they asked Judge Coleman to recuse herself from a dog attack case that resulted in a woman’s death because they said she was judging with bias. When she chose to only allow two of more than fifty of the prosecution’s photos into evidence, they argued it was because the defense attorney had donated to her campaign. They argued they were forced to leave out relevant testimony from witnesses as well.

When Judge Coleman attempted to continue trying the case, she held a hearing which the assistant D.A. called “bizarre.”

White argued Judge Coleman was acting within her rights in that case, because the photos were overly gruesome, and not relevant to the issue at hand, which was whether the owners of the dog knew they were vicious.

“You will get to hear the audios of the various conversations that occurred on record. You’ll get to hear the tone and tenure of those lawyers appearing before judge Coleman and you will get to weigh how this set of events never allowed her a chance to establish herself as a district judge here in Oklahoma County,” said White in his opening statement.

This will be the first time the Court on the Judiciary has convened for a trial in over ten years, according to the general council for the Council on Judiciary Complaints.

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