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Court clerk claims criminal case expungement at top of campaign priorities

Sarah Hussain / Red Dirt Report
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Warren has arrest record dating back to 1972, OSBI document shows

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma County Court Clerk Rick Warren implies on his campaign website that he’s seeking a full term in office because he wants to help his friends expunge felony and misdemeanor charges from their criminal record.

In two cases Warren cited, he claims both men were charged with felonies that were later dismissed. In one instance, a man now in his 60s was applying for a job but a background check uncovered an assault and battery charge filed when the man was a teenager.

Warren also claims on his website that another friend wanted to obtain a gun permit but was denied because of a criminal charge that remained on his record.

“If I could be court clerk I thought to myself I could help some of these people,” he said on a campaign website audio recording.

However, court clerks don’t have the authority to expunge charges from a person’s criminal record. Criminal convictions can only be deleted by a court order issued by a district judge.

“Why would he say he is running to help people clean up their criminal records? Doesn’t he know that is absolutely not within the power of a clerk and likely illegal? I wonder what records he intends to clean up,” said Linda Amick Dodson, who is challenging Warren for the court clerk’s seat in the Aug. 23 primary runoff.

Warren was out of the office Thursday and unavailable for comment about the expungement issue and his controversial background.

Arrest record

Warren had his own brushes with law enforcement dating back to the 1970s. Most notable was an arrest for aggravated assault with intent to kill in 1974, according to records obtained from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. The case was worked by the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office. However, available court records do not show the disposition of the case.

Warren also faced other criminal cases in the 1970s, including two separate arrests on grand larceny complaints in 1972 and again in 1976. The 1972 case was investigated by the Oklahoma City Police Department and the 1976 case was handled by the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office, according to the OSBI record.

In 1979, Warren faced a misdemeanor disorderly conduct complaint in Midwest City. However, that case was dismissed, the OSBI records show. Three years later, he was arrested on a burglary complaint by Oklahoma City police.

Warren’s experience with the judicial system didn’t stop there. In June 2001, a woman identified in court records as Balynda K. Brewster sought a victim’s protective order against Warren. A judge granted a temporary protective order against Warren, but the woman was denied a permanent VPO, court records show.

Amick Dodson declined to comment on Warren’s arrest record.

“My only knowledge about his past was hearsay. I have been asked about it by many but why launch attacks based upon hearsay? I am running because I believe in my abilities and what I can do as Oklahoma County Court Clerk,” she said.

Warren has been court clerk since winning a special election in April after former Court Clerk Tim Rhodes resigned the seat. Warren narrowly defeated Amick Dodson, a longtime court clerk employee, in that election. The two are butting heads again in the Tuesday, Aug. 23 primary runoff. Neither Warren nor Amick Dodson received enough votes to win the June 28 GOP primary election. No Democrats filed for the seat.

Colorful past

Warren certainly has his set of detractors, including some county officers who say privately he’s not fit to hold public office. The officers, who asked not to be named in this story, point to the criminal allegations made against Warren, past questionable business dealings and a request for an additional $1 million for the court clerk’s office. The $1 million request was rejected by the county budget board. Instead, Warren was granted an additional $15,000.

County government sources also claim Warren has acted as a bully, threatening employees and county officers if they fail to endorse him in his re-election bid.

In the past, Warren has been a thorn to the county. In 2003, he sued then-County Commissioner Jack Cornett for wrongful termination after a fight between Warren and another county employee. Warren was fired for his part in the fight, but he later sued. The case was settled and Warren received a $99,450 cash payout.

Warren’s critics also point to his lack of a voting record. Records show Warren registered to vote in 2012 as a Republican, but his only two votes cast since then occurred when his name was on the ballot during the special election and again in June during the primary, according to county board election records dating back to 2000.

Warren told another publication he was often out of town and was not sufficiently on top of local issues to vote.

Political attacks

Warren and at least one of his family members have attacked Amick Dodson through Facebook with comments that she did not win the June primary and that she worked 18 years at the courthouse instead of 19.

“About the primary, what point are they making? No one won it outright. That’s why there is a runoff. Why would they talk about honesty in attacking me, yet fail to check their facts? As a lifelong Republican, I believe the voters are intelligent and will see through petty attacks,” Amick Dodson said.

Amick Dodson worked at the court clerk’s office from October 1989 until November 2008 when she retired. She returned to the court clerk’s office in February 2014 while Rhodes was in office. She currently works for Warren at the court clerk’s Edmond office.

Amick Dodson, daughter of former Oklahoma County District Judge John Amick, a well-respected jurist for more than two decades, has shied away from attacking Warren despite his continued criticism of her. Warren’s Facebook page claims Amick Dodson has no management experience and has questioned her honesty with voters.

Actually, Amick Dodson has a degree in hotel and restaurant management. She managed a Colorado hotel after college and as a court clerk employee she managed the jury room for Oklahoma County trials for 10 years.

 

“When a campaign talks about honesty, it’s important to be honest and check your facts,” she said. “It’s sad to attack in the name of honesty and not be honest. This is the kind of politics voters dislike. Conservative values are proper at the court clerk’s office, but petty politics shouldn’t be.”

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Tim Farley

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