By Conrad Dudderar
EL RENO – A new Canadian County judge has been seated “on the bench.”
Longtime El Reno attorney was sworn in Jan. 6 as Canadian County’s newly appointed special judge.
The oath was administered by Canadian County District Judge Paul Hesse, who presided over a Friday afternoon ceremony inside courtroom one at the Canadian County Courthouse.
Halley replaces Khristan Strubhar as a Canadian County special judge. Strubhar was elected as a new district judge, succeeding the recently retired Jack D. McCurdy II.
Halley thanked Judge Hesse, Judge Strubhar and Judge McCurdy for “giving me this opportunity to serve Canadian County and its residents.”
Other members of the Canadian County judiciary include Associate District Judge Bob Hughey, Special Judge Barbara Hatfield and Special Judge Charles Gass.
District judges and associate district judges are elected to serve four-year terms. Special judges are appointed by the district judges.
Many Canadian County attorneys, judges and district court officials, along with Halley’s family and friends, attended last Friday’s swearing-in ceremony.
Special guests included three retired Canadian County judges, Gary McCurdy, Jack McCurdy and Robert Davis.
Halley worked in private practice in El Reno for more than 30 years, specializing in family law, divorce, estate planning, criminal law and civil litigation. He had been the City of El Reno’s associate municipal judge since 2010.
In 2021, Halley was named Family Law Section Guardian Ad Litem of the Year.
“If you treat people fairly and honestly, you can make a living doing this,” Halley said of being a lawyer. “I certainly tried to do that, for 34 years. I plan on continuing to do that from the bench.
“Judge Jack McCurdy gave me a couple pieces of advice – be prepared and use your common sense. I will endeavor each day to try and accomplish that.”
‘SPECIAL PLACE TO PRACTICE’
Reflecting on his legal career, Halley thanked attorneys Richard Fogg, Dal Handley and Peggy Cunningham for “bringing me out here to Canadian County” when they hired him at their firm.
Halley went on to open his own law office and later practiced with attorneys Art Stevener and Sandy Steffen.
Canadian County’s new special judge talked about what makes the Canadian County Courthouse unique.
“What we have in Canadian County is not duplicated anywhere else,” he said. “It’s been a special place to practice. I didn’t know how good it was when I started.
“We have a culture here in this county that’s very special. And that is a combination of a lot of people.”
Halley credited the judges, bailiffs, court reporters, court clerk’s staff, and county commissioners.
Litigants who come to Canadian County District Court are often experiencing highly emotional times, he noted.
“The people here actually are there to try to help them,” Judge Halley added. “It’s just not that way everywhere.
“I certainly want to do what I can to continue that tradition and contribute to that culture.”
Canadian County’s new special judge talked about the influence of a former judge, the late Ken Dickerson.
“He had a certain way of doing things,” Halley shared. “He was pretty hard on me. I was 25 when I started and, of course, I already ‘knew everything’. He disabused me of that thought over the years.
“I always thought he was trying to do something to teach me how to do this right. I really grew to appreciate and respect Judge Dickerson.”
In introducing his family members, Halley credited his father for encouraging him to attend law school – and his wife Greta for her support.
The new judge referred to an article titled “21 Suggestions for Success.”
“Number one – marry the right person,” he pointed out. “It will determine 90% of your happiness or misery.
“I’m the blind squirrel that found the nut. I think all of those people who’ve known me for a long time would agree – I got the better end of the bargain.”