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Oklahoma Legal Oral History

Interviews with Oklahoma Legal Professionals

Biography

Orenthel J. Denson is a solo practitioner in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He received his law degree in 2003 from the Oklahoma City University School of Law. He practices in the areas of  juvenile law, family law, business development, criminal law, adoptions, civil law, and probate.

If a researcher wishes to use the information gathered in this interview for uses other than educational or scholarly uses, they may do so without further permission from the interview subject. 

Audio

Below is a short selection of the interview with Orenthel J. Denson. You can listen to the full interview by visiting the Chickasaw Nation Law Library at Oklahoma City University School of Law.

Transcript

Below is an excerpt from Mr. Denson's interview and a link to download the full transcript.

KEK: Oh it does. It does absolutely, absolutely. So what do you think, do you think that you’ve ever been ruled against based on your background?

OJD: Oh absolutely. Oh yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

KEK: How did you handle that?

OJD: Again, it is really important because keep in mind I’m an African-American in Oklahoma City. Most lawyers are not and a lot of my clients can afford to go to anyone and, by the way, most of my clients happen to be white. They are not African-American. The beauty in being African-American in dealing with that type of issue is this; as long as I’m competent, as long as I’m honest, which I will continue to be. As long as…you’ve heard the theory 2 wrongs don’t make a right and no matter how racist or biased that I feel a judge is for whatever reason Karen, it just doesn’t exonerate me from being the best damn attorney I can be. My clients know that I am good. They know more times than not at least from a sound perspective, I sound better then opposing counsel. More times than not I have a better argument and more times than not I’m not going to go to court unless I have a sound position. I’m smarter than that. So usually when I go to court, it generally is in my favor. But the few times where I’ve had judges… I had one client who filed a judicial complaint against a judge and she deserved it. She was that bad and she was that racist and that biased. My clients are intelligent Karen, they know. It’s no different than if you and I walked into a grocery store and you were behind me and the clerk obviously had a beef with me because of whatever. You know used the “n” word, you know he could say “I don’t want your kind in here” or whatever. It’s been that blatant almost before. That doesn’t take a rocket scientist standing behind me to know that there is something wrong. This guy is just trying to purchase a soda, he’s dressed appropriately, he’s nice. The store clerk’s behavior is not right. Well, you could use that same analogy in court. My clients are intelligent. They know that I know the law. They know that I can answer their questions. More times than not I make sure that they know the strengths and weaknesses of our case and what case law says. I know what the statues say. So, you have a judge behave in a manner that’s not “judge-like” for a lack of a better word, they can figure it out Karen, and it doesn’t cost me any clients, thank the Lord it doesn’t cost me, but it doesn’t. If anything, I’ve had clients apologize on the behalf of judges. I’ve had clients that say “Well, I could have told you that judge was racist because they use the “n” word all the time. I know because he’s my brother’s brother-in-law, or sister’s husband.” You know I don’t get bitter. Do I get upset? Sure. Do I get disappointed? Of course, I expect just like I should go to court and be competent pursuant to the terms of Title 5, a judge should also be competent and behave in a manner that’s reflects well on the judiciary. But Karen, we’re in the real world and it doesn’t happen that way all the time. Not to make excuses, because it’s unacceptable. But you just can’t be bitter, you can be upset and that’s normal for a little while. You can be disappointed for a little while but you have to just pick yourself up, brush off the dirt and keep going. And try to represent your clients the best that you can without there being too much tension between your client and the judge. I had a guy say, “I wanted you to know I filed a complaint,” but I refuse to go back before that judge. His complaint was honored by the way. The judge recused herself, had to. It’s unfortunate but I guess judges are people too. Not to make excuses, because when you take that oath of office you’re promising to be a particular way and do a particular thing in certain circumstances. But unfortunately in the real world they don’t always care about that.

Catalog Record

800 N. Harvey Oklahoma City, OK 73102 405.208.5271