‘Irreplaceable’: Law neighborhood loses legal legend | Information

As pals and household mourn the reduction of local litigator Stan Ward, those people in the legal local community grieve a person they say was a legend in the courtroom and a champion for the underdog.

Ward, 84, died in his household March 10 surrounded by household. Lawyers, judges and clientele described a person whose ethics matched his outstanding thoughts and whose humor and wisdom lifted the spirits of a lot of who termed him friend.

Scott Brockman, who practiced law with Ward prior to getting a Cleveland County choose, claimed Ward made use of his expertise to aid many others.

“I was fortuitous to see how a lot belief he had in the legislation as a way to locate justice for people today who experienced been wronged, and I saw how considerably he cared about his purchasers and how really hard he labored to help them out, even when other lawyers would not consider their scenario on,” Brockman mentioned.

In Norman, Ward was extra not too long ago recognized for his struggle from two new turnpikes proposed by the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority in 2022. His WinWard Farms was in its route, alongside with hundreds of other home entrepreneurs.

Ward won an Open Conference Act lawsuit in opposition to OTA — without having the necessity of a trial — in district court docket. The circumstance was known by the legislation local community as “Ward’s final stand,” and however he in the end misplaced on charm, nonetheless successful landmark instances was very little uncommon in the course of his job.

Gerald Turner, previous University of Oklahoma vice president of executive affairs, worked closely with Ward who was basic counsel for OU at the time. Ward took on the NCAA and dismantled its monopoly on broadcasted soccer games.

Turner recalled his commanding presence and his intense interrogation techniques aimed at any one regrettable sufficient be questioned on the stand.

“I’ve seen him go soon after people today in the courtroom and he could genuinely go soon after them intensely,” Turner explained. “My spouse used to say, ‘If we at any time get in hassle, I’m confident happy we’re Stan’s close friends.’”

Ward effectively sued the metropolis of Norman on behalf of the Fraternal Order Law enforcement soon after the Town Council reduce its price range, an motion later on dominated an open up conference violation in district court and affirmed by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

The litigator was not also not fearful to problem the Oklahoma Legislature through the rule of regulation. He initiated State Concern 640 to limit state lawmakers’ capacity to elevate taxes. It was authorised by voters in 1992, his nephew Thad Balkman recalled.

“In the 1980s the Oklahoma Legislature passed a whole lot of tax improves and that spurred Stan to combat back,” Balkman reported.

His uncle had a long lasting influence on his political career as a former attorney, point out lawmaker and now judge, Balkman said.

When he essential guidance, Ward was normally all set to support, Balkman mentioned, but it was Ward’s exemplification of what it meant to love and exercise legislation that shaped him.

“He valued men and women over belongings, character around money,” Balkman claimed. “He was driven by a motivation to boost his community by utilizing his legal abilities to maintain govt and authorities in check and accountable.”

Former Okmulgee County district decide and now community attorney, Ken Adair mentioned Ward’s illustration assisted inspire him to dedicate his profession to helping other individuals.

Ward won a libel lawsuit for Adair after he was wrongly accused of illegally accepting a campaign donation during a bid for condition Home District 45. Even though the libel verdict was overturned on a technicality, the jury’s finding of Adair’s innocence remained and opened the door to quickly earn significant punitive damages, he recalled.

Justice was plenty of for Adair, but Ward did not pressure him to continue, he said.

“This (damages) is probably revenue in his pocket, but he hugged me and he said, ‘Ken Adair, you are a great male.’”

Adair claimed Ward’s sincere belief in his innocence built him truly feel observed and listened to through the hailstorm of accusations versus him in his community. The practical experience designed a long lasting impression on Adair.

“It was one thing that taught me how to treatment for my purchasers in a courtroom and not just telling a story and inquiring for money, or telling a story and inquiring for an acquittal,” he mentioned.

In addition to the care he showed purchasers, other attorneys reported Ward also experienced a way with juries.

Ward’s ability to persuade juries was in component owing to his superb memory, which held his eyes off his notes and on jurors whose names he could remember. Attorneys also explained Ward utilized humor as perfectly as he did his memory to connect with jurors.

Fellow litigator in the OTA lawsuit, Richard Labarthe reported Ward’s courtroom brilliance and nearly mythic “everyman” presence built jurors truly feel linked to his clients’ plight.

“Juries could feeling, literally feel, Stan’s humanity and sincerity,” Labarthe mentioned. “They could conveniently perception that he was not just some “suit” but the true point, a serious individual, who could articulate factors in a way that rang genuine with the frequent guy, practically as if they had been in the presence of a true life Jimmy Stewart sort of character from a courtroom film drama.”

Like other attorneys who admired Ward, Labarthe appreciated his dedication to signify individuals who could not find the money for a fantastic lawyer. Winning big lawsuits permitted Ward “to be exceedingly generous” to give counsel to indigent shoppers.

Ward was the sort of lawyer who did not let courtroom arguments linger outside the courtroom. Lawyers termed him, “a lawyer’s lawyer,” Brockman and Labarthe said.

“He could combat like the dickens but continue being on welcoming conditions with opposing attorneys,” Labarthe said. “Often persons and firms that he had defeated in litigation would later attain out to Stan to help them the next time they obtained into a lawful bind.”

Among the 50 percent dozen lawyers who spoke with The Transcript, all of them imagine Ward leaves footwear that are too substantial to fill.

“The authorized neighborhood will by no means be able to switch Stan,” Judge Brockman explained. “You just really don’t change another person who experienced so significantly experience in so quite a few different areas of the legislation, and who fought so tough for so lots of diverse triggers with both equally grace and tenacity.”

A memorial company will be held at 3 p.m., Tuesday March 26 at McFarlin Memorial United Methodist Church, 419 S. College Blvd in Norman. In lieu of bouquets, donations to WildCare in the title of Stan Ward or charity of decision is appreciated.

Sherri Crump

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