Pottawatomie County District Judge Douglas L. Combs received a phone call from Gov. Brad Henry Friday morning asking him to serve on the state Supreme Court.


Pottawatomie County District Judge Douglas L. Combs received a phone call from Gov. Brad Henry Friday morning asking him to serve on the state Supreme Court.
Combs accepted and an emotional day of congratulations and well wishes followed.
Combs, 59, will succeed Justice Rudolph Hargrave, who announced his retirement after more than 30 years on the high court. Combs will take his new position Jan. 1.
Henry selected Combs from three candidates whose names were submitted by the Judicial Nominating Commission. Combs was one of the initial seven applicants vying for the appointment.
Combs, who succeeded Pottawatomie County District Judge Glenn Dale Carter when he retired from the bench in 2003, began his judgeship in 1995 as a Pottawatomie County Special District Judge.
“Judge Carter gave me a chance as a special district judge. He’s been very kind and very much a mentor,” Combs said Friday, reflecting on Carter’s support.
“In my wildest dreams, when I started law school in 1973, never did I envision an opportunity to get a chance to be on the Supreme Court,” Combs said. “To say it’s humbling probably isn’t strong enough.”
Applying for the position was an emotional decision for Combs. While he enjoys being district judge, he said this position is the only other one he’d be interested in pursuing.
He said the District 8 justice seat held by Hargrave doesn’t open very often, as it has been held by two justices over a 73-year time span. Denver Davison served from 1937 until he was succeeded by Hargrave in 1978.
While he’s happy about the new position and the challenges ahead, he said it’s also emotional to leave “people I enjoy working with.”
He complimented the staff of the Pottawatomie County courthouse and said it feels like a community there.
As news of his appointment quickly spread Friday, congratulations came from both near and far. While fielding some of those phone calls Friday, he looked up and saw Justice Hargrave standing in his office door to congratulate his successor in person.
“It was really nice of him — he was very complimentary,” Combs said about the surprise visit, adding it was “very special.”
When making the appointment Friday, the governor said, “Judge Combs has the temperament, intellect and experience to be an outstanding Supreme Court Justice. He has a long history of public service, and I know he will perform his new duties with the greatest professionalism, integrity and sense of duty to the citizens of our state.”
Before serving as judge, Combs worked in private practice and served as a deputy clerk for the Oklahoma Supreme Court, as well as an assistant state attorney general.
He attended St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee and The University of Oklahoma to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science. He earned his juris doctorate from the Oklahoma City University School of Law in 1976 and was admitted to the bar that year.
Combs said he still has a lot of work to do between now and Dec. 31. There are no jury terms slated for the rest of the year, but he said there are plenty of court dockets scheduled and he has pending civil cases to finish up.
Drug Court is one of the dockets Combs will miss as he said it felt good to see people being successful while making a difference in people’s lives.
One of his drug court participants asked him Friday about leaving, disappointed Combs wouldn’t be here after the first of the year to see him graduate Drug Court. But Combs promised he’d still be there.
And just because he’ll be sitting on the bench of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, Combs said Shawnee will continue to be home as he plans to make the daily commute to his new post in Oklahoma City.
“I grew up here — I’ve always been proud of the fact that I’m from Shawnee,” Combs said. “I greatly appreciate the support of my hometown. Shawnee’s home and always will be my home.”
 Combs and wife, Janet, have two sons — Chris, who practices law, and Eric, who is attending law school at OU while working as a sports reporter.

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Did you know?
With Judge Douglas L. Combs resigning as Pottawatomie County district judge Dec. 31, there will be an application process to appoint his successor. The Judicial Nominating Commission will select finalists and his successor will be governor-appointed.