By Conrad Dudderar
Yukon native Jennifer M. King knows she has a big robe to fill.
King started her law practice in November 2000 and, since January 2012, has been Canadian County’s court-appointed attorney for children in deprived cases.
The 1988 Yukon High School graduate now has another role – as the City of Yukon’s new municipal judge. She will start presiding Tuesday, Nov. 23 at twice-monthly municipal court hearings.
“I love everything that Yukon stands for and what it represents,” King said. “I think this is a ‘good fit’ for me.
“I want to represent the judicial system well because I have practiced for 24 years primarily in Canadian County. Our judges and attorneys in Canadian County practice law in a way that’s fair and holds people accountable if they’ve done something wrong.”
King was sworn in as Yukon municipal judge during a Nov. 16th ceremony inside the Centennial Building, 12 S 5th.
She donned the judge’s black robe – one she borrowed from Canadian County Special Judge Khristan Strubhar – after reciting the oath.
King succeeds George Ramey, who recently stepped down after 47 years as Yukon’s municipal judge. Ramey was no longer eligible to serve because he moved outside Yukon city limits.
“I recognize I have ‘big shoes to fill’,” King said. “I have the utmost respect for George as a municipal judge and as an attorney who I’ve been able to observe and learn from for a long period of time. He has always been professional and has such a great legal mind.”
Yukon’s new municipal judge praised City Attorney Roger Rinehart and City Prosecutor Mark Osby, both longtime Canadian County lawyers.
“They are two of the nicest men I know,” King said. “They are both ethical, well-respected attorneys. It’s an honor to be in that same company with the City of Yukon.”
She’s also well familiar with Canadian County District Judge Jack D. McCurdy, who administered her oath as municipal judge.
“When I was a prosecutor in the District Attorney’s office, Jack did a lot of criminal defense work at the time,” King said. “So, we were against one another (arguing cases).”
As an attorney, she’s appeared before McCurdy in Canadian County District Court hearings.
“Jack has always been very kind and thoughtful, and a good mentor,” King said. “I have great respect for Jack as an attorney and a judge.
“He does an excellent job rendering his decisions. He’s always fair and reasonable and listens to the evidence. All the judges that are sitting there now, I practiced with before they came onto the bench. I consider them my friends.”
Others attending the swearing-in ceremony were Associate District Judge Bob Hughey, Special Judge Khristan Strubhar, Special Judge Charles Gass, Juvenile Referee Erin Jones-Slatev, and State Rep. Rhonda Baker (R-Yukon); along with King’s parents Fred and DeLaine Hockett and many other friends.
Yukon’s new municipal judge believes strongly in the integrity of the judicial process and respect of the courtroom.
“Political opinions don’t matter in a courtroom,” King said. “When someone walks into a courtroom – whether it’s city, state or federal – they should expect to be treated fairly and with respect.
“The complaining party has the responsibility and duty to meet their burden of proof. The accused has the opportunity to give their side of the story and their evidence. They should feel confident the judge will follow the law and apply them to the facts they’re given in the courtroom.”
As a judge, King said she will be both “kind and stern” to people who appear before her on the municipal court docket. She is confident she has the right temperament for the job.
“I have primarily worked representing children for most of my career,” King added. “I’ve seen the ‘worst of the worst’ and am used to highly contested cases.
“I always try to be rationale and use good judgment.”
Yukon City Manager Tammy Kretchmar selected King as the new municipal judge. Her contract – approved by the Yukon City Council – shows a base monthly salary of $2,400 – 12 hours per month at $200 per hour.
King began her legal career in August 1992 as bailiff for former Canadian County Special Judge Ken W. Dickerson.
In January 1995, she became administrative assistant for Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Reta M. Strubhar. She served as a Canadian County assistant district attorney from August 1997 to November 2000 before opening the Law Office of Jennifer M. King.
As a private attorney, King specializes in guardian ad litem appointments, adoptions, divorces, child custody modifications, and guardianships.
King is an associate bar examiner for the Oklahoma Board of Bar Examiners, members of the Canadian County Juvenile Bureau’s Citizens Advisory Committee and past president of the Canadian County Bar Association.
Among her many community activities, she’s served on Yukon Public Schools’ Citizens Advisory Committee, the Canadian County Child Abuse Response Team and Canadian County Domestic Violence Task Force.
King is a graduate of Leadership Canadian County and member of the Oklahoma and Canadian County bar associations.
King earned her Juris Doctorate from the Oklahoma City University Law School. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Oklahoma State University.