On February 15, 2011, Justice Noma Gurich became the 90th person since statehood (1907) to serve as a full time justice on the Supreme Court of Oklahoma, and only the third woman justice in over 100 years.
Justice Gurich has been a member of the judiciary for nearly 30 years. She has the distinction of being appointed to judicial positions throughout her career by 4 Oklahoma Governors. In 1988, Republican Governor Henry Bellmon appointed her to serve as Judge on the Workers’ Compensation Court (now known as the Court of Existing Claims). Governor Bellmon also appointed Gurich to serve as Presiding Judge of that court for two terms—1989-1993. In 1994, Governor David Walters re-appointed her to serve a second term on that court. In 1998, Republican Governor Frank Keating appointed Gurich to fill a vacancy on the District Court in Oklahoma County. In 2011, Governor Brad Henry appointed her to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court of Oklahoma.
Justice Gurich has been elected by her constituents five times—the first being in 1998, when she was overwhelmingly elected to continue serving as a District Judge in Oklahoma County. She continued to serve as a District Judge and she was re-elected without opposition in 2002, 2006 and in 2010. In 2012, in her first state wide election while serving as a Supreme Court Justice, she was retained by over 66% of the voters. Justice Gurich is currently serving as Vice Chief Justice.
The Supreme Court is the administrative head of the judicial system in the state of Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Supreme Court is the only constitutionally protected court in the state of Oklahoma. Section 4 of Article VII of the Oklahoma Constitution outlines the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Oklahoma. The Supreme Court has both original and appellate jurisdiction. It is responsible for all appellate decisions except for felony and misdemeanor cases which are directly appealed to the Court of Criminal Appeals. Cases may be retained by the Supreme Court or assigned to the intermediate Court of Civil Appeals. After decision by the Court of Civil Appeals, the Supreme Court has only discretionary review.
Since 2011, the Supreme Court and the Administrative Office of the Court are located in the Oklahoma Judicial Center, 2100 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City. The Appellate Court Clerk’s Office is located in the lower level of the building. From 1917 until 2011, the Supreme Court maintained offices at the State Capitol. The ceremonial courtroom on the second floor of the State Capitol continues to be regularly used by the Supreme Court for oral argument, for the swearing in of new lawyers in the state of Oklahoma, and for other ceremonial events.