ENID, Okla. — Local attorney James “Jim” Richard Cox was honored Tuesday for 50 years of membership with Oklahoma Bar Association during the April meeting of Garfield County Bar Association.
Cox was presented with a pin and certificate honoring his tenure with the association by Oklahoma Supreme Court Chief Justice John Reif, who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting.
Garfield County Bar Association President Karig Culver introduced Cox before he was honored.
“We are privileged and honored to recognize one of our own Garfield County Bar members for have been an Oklahoma Bar Association member for 50 years,” Culver said.
Cox was born in Enid and graduated from Carmen High School in 1950. He received a Bachelor of Science in geology from the University of Oklahoma in 1958 and worked as an exploration geologist in Midland and Abilene, Texas, from 1958 to 1962.
He received a juris doctorate from the University of Oklahoma School of Law in 1965. He was engaged in the private practice of law, with emphasis on litigation and oil and gas law, from 1965 to 1981.
From 1981 to 1984, he served as corporate counsel. From 1984 to present, he has been in private practice, where his emphasis has been on oil and gas law, as well as real estate and probate.
Cox is admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States, the Northern, Eastern and Western Federal Court districts of Oklahoma and all Oklahoma Courts.
He maintains a private practice and serves an “Of Counsel” role with Ewbank, Hennigh & McVay law firm.
“For many years, James was the only lawyer regularly appearing before the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to represent landowners and small oil companies,” Culver said.
Cox has been a member of Central Christian Church since 1965 and has served as an elder and as chairman of the board. He served as exalted ruler of Enid Elks Lodge and as state president of Oklahoma Elks Association. He has served on the board of directors and as president of Oakwood Country Club and Horn of Plenty.
Culver said Cox was known as always being forthright and trustworthy, and as a man of his word.
“Jim is one of those lawyers that make Garfield County such a good place to practice,” he said. “Jim, congratulations on 50 years. We thank you for your service.”
After accepting his certificate, Cox thanked the bar association and its members.
“I enjoyed practicing law here in Enid,” he said. “It’s been a great privilege to practice here. We have one of the best bar associations in Oklahoma.”
Cox also thanked his wife, Janet, and said he was fortunate to have raised a family in Enid.
“We’ve enjoyed it and we’ve enjoyed practicing in Enid,” Cox said. “I want to thank all of you.”
District Judge Paul Woodward introduced Reif, who spoke about funding the judicial branch of government and 10 things most people don’t know about the judicial branch of government.
Reif was appointed to Oklahoma Supreme Court in 2007. He previously served 23 years on the Court of Civil Appeals. He started his judicial service in 1981 as a special judge in Tulsa County.
Reif began his legal career in 1977 with Tulsa County District Attorney’s office, after graduating from Tulsa College of Law that same year.
Reif told the association he has created a speech similar to the governor’s state of the state address, which he calls the state of the judiciary. He said he has shared the speech with the Legislature in light of possible cuts to funding.
The judicial branch is established by Article 7 of the Oklahoma Constitution. It was adopted in 1967 by a vote of the people and replaced the original judicial articles.
Reif explained how the changes gave the judicial branch certain powers and created a numeric requirement for judges and judicial appointments. He also discussed the requirements of the judicial branch, as created by the Legislature.
“It gave us a boatload of responsibility but didn’t give us the funding source to do it with,” Reif said. “We have to look to the Legislature to fill our constitutional functions.”
He said each year, budgets are presented to the Legislature, most of which consist of the cost of staff. He said the budgets have been the same for years, and will remain so.
“There’s no wiggle room. There’s no fat in these budgets,” Reif said. “The next time you hear speeches about fat, they’re talking about some other branches of government.”
Reif said the costs of the judicial branch total two-thirds of a percent of the general revenue from the state.
“Not 1 percent, two-thirds of 1 percent of available general revenue is what the courts need to carry out the mandated, constitutional function,” he said.
Reif said the Legislature has a dire crisis with this year’s budget and faces serious challenges.
However, Reif said the court also collects and disperses, through fines and costs, $55 million for other executive branch agencies.
Reif said most chief justices are expected to have a vision for projects or improvements for the state’s courts.
“I don’t have the luxury of envisioning improvements, envisioning new projects and envisioning new programs,” he said. “I’ve got the responsibility to hold the line.”