The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals is a court of last resort with exclusive jurisdiction in criminal cases. It hears appeals in all levels of criminal cases from misdemeanors to death penalty cases.
Arlene Johnson was appointed to that court in 2005 and currently serves as its Presiding Judge.
She graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in English and taught English at Moore High School while her husband finished law school. She graduated 1st in her class from the University of Oklahoma law school in 1971 and began practicing law with the small Oklahoma City law firm of Bulla and Horning. With the birth of her third child in 1973 she left that firm to serve as law clerk to Judge Tom Brett of the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. In 1976 she went to work as a prosecutor in the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office, ultimately serving as First Assistant. In January of 1983 she accepted the job of Criminal Chief for the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office leaving in November 1983 to serve as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma. She served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for more than twenty years, prosecuting white collar and public corruption cases and serving for several years as Criminal Chief for that office.
Johnson is an emeritus member of the William J. Holloway, Jr. American Inn of Court and served as President of that organization in 2003-2004.
Professional awards include:
Mona Lambird Spotlight Award Recipient (2004); Director’s Award, Executive Office of the United States Attorneys for Superior Performance (2001); FBI Director’s Recognition of outstanding prosecution (1999); United States Attorney General’s John Marshal Award for Outstanding Legal Achievement (1998); FBI Commendation for Exceptional Service in the Public Interest (1998); Director’s Award Executive Office of the United States Attorneys for Superior Performance (1996).