OKLAHOMA CITY - Today, the ACLU of Oklahoma joined Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc. and David Humphreys of the law firm Humphreys Wallace Humphreys in seeking a writ of prohibition from the Oklahoma Supreme Court to prevent the Tulsa County District Court from changing the location of certain court hearings with little or no notice to defendants.
On Monday, June 1, 2020, the Tulsa County District Court resumed hearings on small claims matters, forcible entry and detainer evictions, and exemptions to wage garnishments. On May 28, 2020, Presiding Judge William LaFortune issued an order changing the location for the court hearings to another location away from the Tulsa County Courthouse. Defendants were not given formal notice of the change of location for their court hearings.
“The bedrock of our judicial system is due process and while this policy has the worthwhile intent of allowing persons to maintain social distancing while attending court, proceedings must adhere the very cornerstone of due process by providing people an opportunity to be heard,” said Michael Redman, Interim Legal Director for the ACLU of Oklahoma.
The Application for Writ of Prohibition seeks to prohibit the Tulsa County District Court from conducting any hearings without giving actual notice to defendants of the location where their lawsuits will be heard.
We continue to urge Governor Stitt to exercise his respective authority to immediately issue a statewide moratorium on evictions and utility shut-offs in Oklahoma and commit to the prevention of mass evictions, and call on the Mayors and City Councilmembers of Oklahoma City and Tulsa to exercise their discretion and use Federal funds from the CARES Act to support tenants and landlords.