The Oklahoma County District Courthouse was so busy this morning, one lawyer pushing his way into a courtroom said, “It’s Black Friday for justice! On sale today.”
It was an interesting juxtaposition of hustle and bustle, as lawyers whispered with clients in corners, prosecutors carried large case files, and family members and those accused of this or that crime had their day, or their minute, before a judge. Not that you could hear anything the judge says in the courtroom with so much conversation and no microphone.
Today was a day for Luther Town Trustee Ron Henry and his wife, Brenda, to have a moment before Judge Lisa Hammon as part of an ongoing Preliminary Hearing Conference on the charges against them. Both Henrys face voter fraud allegations. In addition, Ron Henry faces felony counts involving a property dispute with his neighbor Zella Holder.
Meanwhile, Holder, according to court records, keeps pushing her lawsuit against Luther Public Schools over construction of the new football field and high school. She sued in 2013 claiming the facilities were negligently built and caused water runoff to cross Hogback Road and affect her RV park across the street. The long running case is set for trial in March 2017.
Today was the first court appearance since the Henrys were charged in August 2016. Some wondered whether they would seek a plea agreement. The answer to that, from Mr. Henry, is an emphatic NO.
Henry said today again that he has done nothing wrong.
Incidentally, the voter fraud allegations list current Mayor Cecilia Taft as the one who notarized the absentee ballots that make up the case.
The investigation revealed and Ms. Taft admitted, that on 3025-2015, 3-27-2015 and 4-3-2015, she notarized absentee ballot affidavits without the person being present whose name is on the affidavit of an absent voter, according to the charges.
The Oklahoma Secretary of State shows Taft was commissioned as a notary in February 2013, and “a notary public acts as an official witness to the identity of a person who comes before the notary … The notary must be certain of the identity of the person requesting the service.”
Taft is not charged in the case.
Henry also said he will not resign from his position on the Town Board. Interestingly, four of the five positions for the Town Board will be open for the April 2017 election. All of the positions, except his. The irony is not lost on Henry, and he hopes for change.
“This whole case is out there to shut me up for some of the things I have been asking about the Town,” he said.
He said “honest people” need to run for Town Board who are concerned about the future of Luther.
Henry’s attorney, Gary Wood, would not give a public comment about the cases. He said commenting would not help his clients. There will be another PHC before the wheels of justice turn toward a trial.