An area judge said Monday he is innocent of charges leveled against him by the state multicounty grand jury in connection with the creation of a drug court in Pawnee County.
Associate District Judge Patrick M. Pickerill, 49, was charged Friday in Pawnee County on nine counts, including falsifying judicial records and conspiracy to commit a felony. The multicounty grand jury alleges that he had a court clerk backdate two administrative orders that appointed a secretary-bailiff, Jamie Box, and established the drug court on Oct. 30.
Pickerill’s other charges in Pawnee County include offering false or forged instruments for recordation and perjury by subornation.
He was charged in Oklahoma County with acceptance of public office without oath or security, a misdemeanor.
Pickerill works in Judicial District 14, which serves Pawnee and Tulsa counties.
The grand jury also returned a six-count indictment for Pawnee County against Box, 51, of Terlton, on charges that include conspiracy to commit a felony, computer crimes and pretending to be an executive officer.
She also was charged in Oklahoma County with three counts of perjury on allegations that she lied to the multicounty grand jury.
“I would like to assure the citizens that both my bailiff and I are innocent of any wrongdoing,” Pickerill said Monday in a telephone interview. “God rarely shares his long-term plans with me, and it’s difficult to understand why someone would be willing to waste so much tax money and cause so much pain over a personal agenda.
“I know that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord, and that’s where I’m placing my faith.”
Rex Duncan, district attorney for Osage and Pawnee counties, has for months questioned Pickerill’s actions in relation to the drug court.
In documents filed March 6, Duncan said an investigation into the matter was brought to his attention by an elected official and centers on a “conspiracy to commit one or more felonies and subsequent effort to cover up said conspiracy,” records show.
Later in March, Creek County District Judge Joe Sam Vassar, who was appointed to the case by the state, denied several of Duncan’s motions, including requests to vacate the administrative orders and to have Pickerill recused from all matters handled by the prosecutor’s office.
The orders in question were file-stamped Oct. 30 instead of the December date they were received by Pawnee County Court Clerk Janet Dallas.
“Any backdating in reference to the administrative orders involved here were done to memorialize action which had already been taken,” Vassar wrote in his March order. “There was no illegitimate purpose involved. The orders are not sham process.”
Vassar was assigned the case by the Oklahoma Supreme Court after Carlos Chappelle, then presiding judge of Tulsa and Pawnee counties, ratified the orders on Jan. 14. Two weeks after Chappelle’s ruling, a search warrant executed by Duncan’s office and signed by Clancy Smith, presiding judge for the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, led to the seizure of computers from Pickerill’s office.
Pickerill, appointed by Gov. Mary Fallin in December 2013, came under scrutiny when he created the orders to appoint a bailiff and establish a drug court on Oct. 30. Partly because Pickerill “was in a contested election for his position as judge,” the orders were not filed at that time with Dallas, according to district court documents filed by Pickerill’s attorney.
Upon discovering the unfiled administrative orders, Pickerill in early December had the orders filed and dated to reflect when they were signed (Oct. 30), records indicate.
Duncan contested the date change in court, and the matter went to Chappelle, who wrote that an agreement to affix a file stamp on the date the orders were entered in court instead of the date presented to the court clerk “would not make the orders less effective and doesn’t make the orders sham process.”
Writing that an “antagonistic relationship” exists between Pickerill and the state, Duncan in January asked that the judge recuse himself from all matters handled by the District Attorney’s Office, a request Pickerill denied.
An Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation forensic examination of Pickerill’s computer indicates that the orders he claims to have written, printed and signed on Oct. 30 first appeared on the computer on which he contends they were composed on Nov. 14 and were modified Dec. 5, Duncan stated in a court motion.
Those orders also were reportedly deleted from the judge’s computer on or after Dec. 5, five days before they were filed with the court clerk, according to documents filed by the prosecutor.
The perjury count against Pickerill claims that in early March, he took attorney Joshua Ryan Kidd to lunch and asked him to commit perjury by attesting that he was in Pickerill’s office Oct. 30 and recalled seeing an order dated that day to create a drug court in Pawnee County, documents claim.