John Couch has filed as a candidate for the office of District Judge for the 9th Judicial District.

There has not been a contested election for this position since 1974, when former District Judge Ray Wall was elected.

This year, three candidates have filed: incumbent Judge Donald L. Worthington, Mozella Irwin-Smith and Couch. Worthington is in his 20th year.

The primary election will be July 25 and the top two will move on to the November general ballot.

“I am running because I believe I can make a positive contribution to the administration of justice in this judicial district, which includes both Payne and Logan counties,” said Couch. “During the ’70s, I enjoyed my five years as special district judge. I would like to have the opportunity to serve in the capacity of district judge, and I believe that I can do a good job.”

Couch graduated in 1970 from the Oklahoma University College of Law. He then served as a law clerk for William J. Holloway of the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. It was during this time that Holloway’s dedication to justice inspired Couch’s interest in a judicial career.

In 1974, he was appointed Special District Judge for the 9th Judicial Circuit by District Judge Robert L. Hert. He served in that capacity until 1979.

He was assigned cases by the District Judge and heard cases in Payne and Logan counties. “I consider Hert to be my mentor for the proper administration of justice in the trial court,” said Couch.

“One change I would make in the present system would be to bring back Judge Hert’s method of holding regular felony jury dockets so that felony cases are set for trial within a reasonable time after filing.”

After serving as a judge, he began practicing law in Stillwater. Beginning in 1990, he was also a part-time graduate student in OSU’s Environmental Science program, receiving a Ph.D. in 1996. He was appointed a visiting professor at OSU in the zoology and botany departments and taught for two years.

Couch graduated from Rice University in 1964 with a B.A. in philosophy, and received an M.A. in philosophy at OU in 1968. Organizations he belongs to include the Oklahoma and American Bar Associations, Phi Delta Phi, a legal fraternity and Phi Kappa Phi, a scholastic honor society. He also serves as a trustee of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.

He participates in the Stillwater Tennis Association, Payne County Audubon Society and St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.

His wife, Julie Couch, is an accountant and a NewsPress opinion columnist.

They have two daughters. Mary Kate recently completed her internship with the Stillwater Public Schools for an M.A. in counseling and Cara has been working for Heifer International, a non-profit organization headquartered in Little Rock, Ark. She recently resigned to move to Vermont with her husband Keith Berner. He will begin residency training in psychiatry at the University of Vermont this month.

All district court judges are trial judges. They try cases with or without juries. The District Judge, as the chief administrative judge, also has the responsibility of overseeing the judicial system in Payne and Logan counties insofar as caseload of the various judges are concerned. If there are problems, it is the responsibility of the District Judge to correct them.

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