More than 100 Picher-Cardin residents may have the opportunity to be heard in higher court.
Thursday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court agreed to review an Ottawa County court decision regarding allegations that members of the Lead-Impacted Communities Relocation Assistance Trust acted unfairly and, to a certain degree, illegally.
The matter went before an Ottawa County special judge in November, after local judges recused themselves.
The plaintiff’s in this action allege that LICRAT:
*Appropriated private insurance payments for residents following a tornado that hit Picher in 2008, without allowing those residents due process.
*Violated the state’s Open Meetings Act.
*Allowed a state official who was assigned only as a “spectator” of Trust activities to run the organization.
Plaintiff’s allege a state law that created the trust and made it immune from judicial review is unconstitutional.
The court was also asked to review whether the Trust violated the Open Meeting Act by permitting the buyout contractors and state employees - particularly State Secretary of Environment J.D. Strong - to attend closed-door sessions of the Trust in which property values were assessed.
In his judgment, Judge Dwayne Steidley stated that he found no evidence that members of the Lead-Impacted Communities Relocation Assistance Trust violated their position or the law in assisting in the relocation of property owners in the Picher-Cardin area.
While most appeals presented to the Supreme Court are designated between intermediate courts of appeal, the Supreme Court elected to review this case personally.