The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma is one of 94 federal district courts whose judges draw their jurisdiction from Article III of the Constitution and have lifetime appointments. District judges are appointed by the President of the United States, subject to confirmation by the Senate. They are responsible for making decisions in those cases in which the Constitution or Acts of Congress grant authority. The Eastern District of Oklahoma is currently authorized 1 1/2 District Judges and one Senior Judge. Each judge has his or her own personal staff, generally consisting of a secretary and two law clerks.
The Federal Magistrates Act, passed by Congress in 1968, created the position of the United States Magistrate Judge. Magistrate judges are appointed to eight-year terms by the Court and are subject to reappointment or removal by the Court. In contrast to district judges who have broad judicial authority, the authority of magistrate judges is limited. Magistrate judges conduct initial appearances in all criminal cases and conduct trials or accept guilty pleas and sentence defendants in misdemeanor cases, and rule on procedural or discovery motions or other pretrial issues in civil or criminal cases. Magistrate judges also perform other duties as assigned by the Court. The Eastern District of Oklahoma is currently authorized two magistrate judges.
Responsibilities of the clerk's office include the following:
Keep the court's records
Enter judgments and orders
Manage juror system
Administer court budget
Coordinate space and facilities
There follows hereafter a listing of the various positions and categories of responsibilities found in the clerk's office.
Clerk of Court
The Clerk of the Court functions as the chief non-judicial administrative officer of the Court is responsible for the development and operation of administrative and operational procedures which will result in the most effective and economical management of the Court.
Court Reporters are responsible for the official record of all court proceedings, filing transcripts on a timely basis, and preparing reports as required for the Chief Judge, Administrative Office and Clerk of Court. One court reporter is assigned by the Clerk of Court to each judge who maintains a full active caseload; court reporters are assigned to other judges as needed.
Office operations include the intake, docketing and record-keeping functions. Intake is charged with the responsibilities of: inspecting all documents presented to it for filing; assigning cases to judges; providing information to attorneys; receiving filing and miscellaneous fees; issuing process, and distributing mail.
Deputy Clerks are responsible for the timely entering upon the Court's docket all pleadings accepted for filing. The case docket is a chronological record of every official activity in the case. Deputy clerks
also enter and distribute all orders and judgments issued by the court, and they close cases upon entry of judgment.
The records clerk is responsible for the maintenance and storage of the official records of the court. The records clerk is also responsible for gathering, reproducing and presenting for inspection all court documents as requested by the court, public and litigants.
The financial administrator accounts for receipt, custody, deposit and disbursement of monies received by the Court. Records and reports concerning these fiscal transactions are maintained by this deputy.
The human resource specialist is responsible for maintaining the personnel files for all employees, overseeing the personnel regulations of the office, and providing the employees of the court with updates and changes to personnel policies.
Procurement is responsible for making all purchases for the court, securing necessary repairs, rentals and purchases, and preparing vouchers for payment of services rendered.
The jury clerk handles all jury matters, both petit and grand, including qualifications, maintaining a pool of persons qualified to act as jurors in this district, and summonsing individuals for jury selection. The
jury clerk is also responsible for preparing juror vouchers to reimburse jurors for service.
The District Court has authority to conduct naturalization ceremonies and administer the Oath of Allegiance to confer United States citizenship. Naturalization ceremonies are held approximately four times per year with 20 - 40 aliens naturalized at each ceremony. Naturalization duties are handled by the jury clerk.
Space and Facilities
The facilities coordinator is responsible for providing court personnel with office and courtroom facilities that are safe, functional, well maintained and cost effective within the guidelines established by the Judicial Conference. This includes the acquisition of space and subsequent improvements through either renovation or new construction.
Information Systems Division (ISD)
ISD is responsible for the development, installation, and maintenance of all automation equipment utilized by the court. This division is shared between the district court and probation/pretrial offices. The ISD section is also responsible for arranging for all training of court employees on automation equipment.
The Eastern District of Oklahoma has one full-time pro se law clerk and one death penalty law clerk. These law clerks work under the direction of the chief judge but are a shared resource for all of the judicial officers.
The pro se law clerk handles pro se prisoner petitions, either challenging the constitutionality of their conviction (petitions for writs of habeas corpus) or challenging an event or condition arising from their confinement as a violation of their civil rights.
The primary functions of the pro se clerk is two fold: to assist the Judges of the court on the relevant substantive law raised by prisoner pro se complaints and to assist pro se litigants before the court by providing procedural advice. The pro se staff attorney substantively screen all prisoner pro se complaints and petitions which request in forma pauperis status (poor person status). 28 U.S.C. Section 1915 authorizes the Court to dismiss any in forma pauperis action which is frivolous or malicious or fails to state a claim. The words frivolous and malicious have been interpreted by Supreme Court case law to mean lacking a basis in law or fact.