- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 14, 2017

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma filed a lawsuit Tuesday, asking the state Supreme Court to prohibit Justice Patrick Wyrick from serving on the court from District 2 in southeastern Oklahoma.

The lawsuit on behalf of southeast Oklahoma residents Susan Spencer and Cheri Chandler alleges Wyrick doesn’t meet the state Constitution’s requirement that justices be a “qualified elector” - or voter - within the district for at least a year.

ACLU attorney Brady Henderson said Wyrick has lived for years in central Oklahoma, not in District 2 in southeast Oklahoma.

“The problem is he simply does not have residency in that district,” and has lived for years in in Oklahoma City and Moore where he votes, raises his family and has a home,” Henderson said.

“He does every single thing that is concomitant with the exercise of residence, not in Atoka County … but rather in Cleveland County,” according to Henderson.

Wyrick, who was appointed by Gov. Mary Fallin and was sworn into office Friday, has not responded to requests for comment.

A statement from the governor’s general counsel, Jennifer Chance, referred to the state Constitution, which says the Judicial Nominating Commission determines the qualifications of nominees.

“The commission exercised its constitutional authority and the governor accordingly selected Patrick Wyrick to the fill the vacant position on the Oklahoma Supreme Court,” Chance said in a statement from the governor’s office.

Members of the nominating commission did not respond to requests for comment.

Henderson called the challenge to a state Supreme Court justice unprecedented, to his knowledge.

“We simply haven’t seen it before in Oklahoma,” Henderson said, noting that there have been similar challenges to district judges. “But never a supreme court justice, this is absolutely rare, this is unique.

“I think this is the first time in our state’s history that we’ve had to ask, essentially, eight justices out of nine to opine on whether the ninth can actually sit,” as a state Supreme Court justice.

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