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Oklahoma Legal Oral History

Interviews with Oklahoma Legal Professionals


Judge Wayne Edward Alley received his J.D. in 1957 from Stanford University. He served as a law clerk for the Supreme Court of Oregon before going into private practice in Oregon. He served in the JAG Corps from 1959-1981 before serving as Dean and professor of law at the University of Oklahoma College of Law from 1981-1985. He was nominated by Ronald Reagan on May 29, 1985, to a new seat in the U.S. District Court, Western District of Oklahoma. He was confirmed by the Senate on July 10, 1985, and received commission on July 11, 1985. He assumed senior status on May 16, 1999.

If a researcher wishes to use the information gathered in this interview for uses other than educational or scholarly uses (with the exception of fundraising or commercial advertising), they may do so without further permission from the interview subject. 


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


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

KEK: So when you first, you went into your dad’s office and said I’m going into the Army what was your first post, where was that?

WA: It was Fort Sill, OK. And, I must say after that assignment, if anybody had asked would OK be your permanent home? I would have said “You’re crazy.” Fort Sill itself was a very pleasant place with wonderful facilities but Lawton, OK in the 50’s and the surrounding countryside was pretty dismal.

KEK: And what did you do there?

WA:  Well, I was primarily a Defense Counsel. And I did on the side, as most young officers did, provide personal legal assistance for members of the service and their dependents, to do estate planning and draw wills and do tax returns for them and settle landlord-tenant problems for example. That was fun, that was satisfying. Especially in that entitlement to legal services was just that, it was an entitlement without regard to a showing of indigency or anything like that. It just like you’re entitled to medical services from the medical corps if you are a soldier. So I did legal work for Generals and Colonels and right on down through Privates and that was an enriching experience for a young person.

KEK: What did you learn from doing that type of work do you think?

WA:   Well, let’s start with being a Defense Counsel. This is going to sound immodest, but in a General Court Martial an acquittal is relatively infrequent.  That’s not a criticism of the military because in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of OK an acquittal is probably even more infrequent. As a Defense Counsel, I plead out maybe 2/3rds of my clients and I tried the other 1/3rd of the cases and I got acquittals in half of those. So I had immense satisfaction in that and had to have fairly well developed trial skills to be able to do that. And thus, in that respect, I had the advantage of a period of private practice in jury trials in civilian life when my opponent counsel typically did not. Never did as a matter of fact. In personal legal assistance, one of the things I learned with respect to senior officers, they may be commanders of things or high level staff officers and so forth but they are very dependent on specialists when they get outside of their own responsibilities. I might have a colonel in there with some particular problem and he’s just hanging on, you know, every word, what can you do for me kid. And that was important in later life too when I was advising high level officers, to say my expectation is that they’re going to be following my advice in all likelihood. Because they don’t feel confident outside their own area of expertise.

Catalog Record

800 N. Harvey Oklahoma City, OK 73102 405.208.5271