Oklahoma State Court System

  • District Court: The District Court is the primary trial level court in Oklahoma, with general jurisdiction over civil cases, including personal injury matters.
  • Court of Civil Appeals: The Court of Civil Appeals is the court of appellate jurisdiction for civil matters. It hears cases appealed from the District Court level that are assigned by the Supreme Court.
  • Supreme Court of Oklahoma: The Supreme Court is one of two courts of last resort. The Court of Criminal Appeals handles criminal cases, and the Supreme Court has jurisdiction over civil matters.

*Some of the courts in the Oklahoma Court System also have jurisdiction over other proceedings which are not covered here.

Pleadings

In the beginning stages of a lawsuit legal documents called pleadings are filed. To initiate the lawsuit, the plaintiff files a pleading called a Complaint which sets forth one or more causes of action against the defendant(s) named in the Complaint. After the Plaintiff files the Complaint and properly serves the Complaint on the Defendant(s), the Defendant(s) then have 21 days from the date of service to file a pleading called an Answer. The Defendant(s)’ Answer will respond to each of the causes of action in the Plaintiff’s Complaint and set forth any defenses, cross claims and/or counter claims the Defendant(s) will raise.

Discovery

After all parties to the lawsuit have filed pleadings, the case then proceeds to Discovery. Essentially, the discovery process is a fact-finding and investigative endeavor in which each party gathers information and evidence from opposing parties and/or non-party witnesses. While the discovery process includes a variety of other mechanisms used to gather information, it will generally consist of the following:

  • Written Discovery is generally used at the start of discovery and comes in two basic forms:

    • Interrogatories – Formal questions and/or requests for information served on one party by an opposing party. The party served with interrogatories must provide written responses to each of the interrogatories or respond with an objection to the interrogatory.
    • Requests for Production of Documents – Often served with a set of interrogatories, requests for production of documents are formal requests for certain documentation relevant to the claims and defenses raised in the pleadings.
  • Depositions – In a deposition, either a party to the lawsuit or a non-party witness will provide oral testimony under oath and in the presence of a court reporter who makes a written record of everything said during the deposition.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

The law in Oklahoma allows for alternative dispute resolution per OKLA. STAT. tit. 12, §§ 1801-1881. The Oklahoma Alternative Dispute Resolution System originated in 1983 and consists of 12 community-based mediation centers and 11 programs developed by state agencies.

The use of alternative dispute resolution is an optional alternative to litigation, and is never considered to be mandatory by the court system. However, prior agreements to arbitrate in lieu of litigation will be enforced at the court level.

Trial

If the parties have not reached a settlement through mediation or otherwise, at the conclusion of discovery, the case then proceeds to trial. Depending on the complexity of the case, a trial can take as little as a single day or as long as several weeks to complete. At the conclusion of a typical civil trial, the jury will return a verdict for the plaintiff and award money damages to the plaintiff or the jury will return a verdict for the defendant finding that the defendant was not at fault.

Motions and Appeals

Appeals to the District Court must be filed within 30 days of the date of a copy of the judgment is mailed to the appellate as shown by the certificate of mailing attached to the final order or judgment.

Recovery

The statute of limitations for actions on domestic judgments is 5 years but the judgment is renewable.

DISCLAIMER:

The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.

By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in Oklahoma. Should you have a question/concern specific to Oklahoma law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Oklahoma.