By Traci Chapman
Canadian County has a new district court judge.
Assistant District Attorney Paul Hesse moves behind the bench, after he on July 5 was sworn in as the newest member of Canadian County’s judiciary. The standing-room-only ceremony drew judges, court personnel and attorneys from the county and beyond, as well as many of Hesse’s family and friends.
As district court judge, Hesse will serve as the head of the county judiciary, serving out the remaining term of Gary Miller, who retired last September. Gov. Mary Fallin selected the 48-year-old Hesse from three candidates selected by the court’s Judicial Nominating Committee.
His appointment lasts until 2019, when voters go to the polls to select judges throughout the state.
Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Joseph Watt performed the honors, swearing in Hesse as current and retired judges looked on. Those attending the ceremony included retired Canadian County judges Edward Cunningham and Robert Davis, as well as serving judiciary members Associate Judge Bob Hughey and Special Judges Barbara Hatfield and Gary McCurdy. Both Miller and Special Judge Jack McCurdy were unable to attend the July 5 event.
Oklahoma County District Court Judge Tim Henderson, who was also in attendance, stepped in on Canadian County cases to help fill the void left in the wake of Judge Miller’s unexpected retirement. As months unfolded with no appointment, Henderson and locals like Hughey, Hatfield, both McCurdys and Court Clerk Marie Ramsey and her staff made a difficult time much easier – and a new judge’s upcoming first days less stressful, Hesse said.
“Thanks to all of these people, I am entering with no backlog, and that is a testament to their hard work and dedication,” the new judge said.
Hesse has worked in Canadian County District Attorney’s office for about two decades. He most recently served as county lead prosecutor, under District Attorney Michael Fields, who oversees District 4, encompassing Canadian, Blaine, Kingfisher, Grant and Garfield counties.
Together, the men have worked on several high-profile cases overseen by Hesse, including the 2013 first-degree murder conviction of Mustang realtor Rebecca Bryan. That case, among many others, illustrated Hesse’s importance to the DA’s office, Fields said.
“Paul Hesse has served our office and the citizens of Oklahoma with an extraordinary level of professionalism, skill, and expertise,” Fields said. “I consider myself blessed to have had the opportunity to serve alongside him all these many years.
“This appointment is a tremendous honor, and I appreciate Governor Fallin giving me the opportunity to serve Canadian County in this new capacity as a district court judge,” Hesse said.
Hesse earned his bachelor’s degree from University of Central Oklahoma and graduated from University of Oklahoma College of Law. He serves on the Intervention and Crisis Advocacy Network board and as a citizen’s advisory board member for El Reno’s C.A.R.T. House. Hesse, his wife Mandy and their three children – Paige, Connor and Piper — live in Mustang.