In preparation for the upcoming election of judges, the Sapulpa Times interviewed Bristow City Attorney Kelly Hake (in person) and Kellyville Town Attorney John Dunn (by phone) to elicit answers to the same questions. Both men were forthcoming, attentive to detail, and passionate about the law, and made for interesting interview subjects.
Sapulpa Times: What do you do now? How long?
John Dunn: In private practice, General Practice Attorney in federal and state cases for 12 years, and City Attorney for Kellyville for 2-3 years.
Kelly Hake: Thirty-four years as an attorney in defense and prosecution for state and federal cases, twenty-five years as Bristow City Attorney. President of Bristow Bar Association.
ST: Why run this year?
JD: Because I want to serve the public as a judge. It is unusual for an opening to happen, so as soon as Judge Joe Sam Vassar announced his retirement, I began laying the groundwork to let people know I was running.
KH: I was on a motorcycle trip, and somewhere between Chicago and St. Louis, I decided. I had known for about 2 ½ years that Judge Vassar was retiring.
ST: Tell me the best qualities for a judge.
JD: Fair, great or small, rich or poor; firm in decisions; confidence in their knowledge of the law and not going to be swayed. Don’t owe anybody any favors, focused on doing justice every day.
KH: Legal expertise, a member of the community and ethics.
ST: Tell me qualities you don’t want to see in a judge.
JD: Biased or part of the establishment; does not have a broad grasp of the law or is outside their area of expertise. Vengeful or angry; disproportionate treatment such as contempt citations, full of himself. The judge is a referee, it’s about the people, not him.
KH: I don’t want an intemperate, unkind, or unjust judge. One who prejudges or is unfair.
ST: What will you do in your courtroom to address the fact that Oklahoma incarcerates more of its population than any place on earth?
JD: The judge doesn’t have the authority. Drug Court and Mental Health Court is controlled by the DA. In a jury trial, the jury decides, a blind plea is the only time the judge has the last word on sentencing. And each should be judged on its merit.
KH: I am a strong advocate for Veteran Court, Drug Court, and Mental Health Court. My heart’s really with Veteran Court—they are traumatized. We want them not to do certain behaviors, and this court gives them the help to prevent the behavior. Society gets no benefit from incarcerating them.
SH: How do you deal with DUI repeat offenders?
JD: Follow the Law dealing with sentencing. A judge doesn’t have anything to do unless they’re guilty.
KH: We have many quality lawyers in OIDS, and I would make the state prove its case. It is often better in Drug Court and goes really quickly.
ST: How do you deal with Domestic Assault & Battery?
JD: Same, follow the law.
KH: With my experiences in life, I have very little tolerance for Domestic Assault and Battery.
ST: How do you feel about mandatory sentencing?
JD: That law allows the judge to go below the mandatory sentence. Sometimes there are unintended consequences, the legislature has spoken. We don’t want, as a society, for people to commit crimes like burglary and get 2 years instead of 7, and the minimum punishment for murder is life in prison.
KH: Mandatory sentencing cuts both ways. Fairness and unfair. It doesn’t take into account the variables or understanding the circumstances.
ST: What will you do if you don’t win?
JD: Continue to practice in Mannford and Tulsa, in state and federal courts. Continue to try to get elected judge.
KH: Working as an attorney, a trial lawyer. I work hard as an attorney! I have had cases of civil rights violations against the police, worked on a team for a capital murder case, criminal defense.
A graduate of Charles Page High School in Sand Springs, a degree from OSU, and law degree from Tulsa University, John has a wife of 14 years, Reba, and their 9-year-old daughter named Evelyn. They live in the Silver City area on a ranch. He enjoys riding motorcycles, fishing, target shooting, and hiking in the mountains.
Kelly Hake: Kelly has a Degree in Philosophy from Iowa State University and his law degree from University of Tulsa. He has three grown children and 3 grandchildren. He was a Golden Gloves Boxer, and coached several youth teams, and loves to ride his motorcycle. He is a member of the Bristow Historical Society.