David K. Petty is an attorney practicing in Guymon, Oklahoma. He received his law degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1964. He practiced in McAlester, Oklahoma for 6 years before moving to Guymon. The majority of his work is related to oil and gas law. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and served on the Board of Directors for the Oklahoma Bar Professional Liability Company.
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Below is a short selection of the interview with David Petty. 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 Mr. Petty's interview and a link to download the full transcript.
KEK: And what was one of your most memorable cases, if you can talk about it or...?
DP: Oh, you mean in McAlester?
KEK: Yeah, in McAlester.
DP: Probably one, it was a criminal case that I got appointed to, guy named Jack Allen Barber. And he’d filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus claiming that he had been denied the right to be confronted by witnesses against him. And, the reason was that he, along with three others, had been charged with robbery of Oertle’s Department Store in Tulsa. The same attorney represented him and a co-defendant at a preliminary hearing and the co-defendant elected to testify at the preliminary hearing so, the lawyer then did not cross-examine the co-defendant. Well, they all got found guilty, they all went to prison, and Mr. Barber filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus saying he was denied his--oh, at the trial, the co-defendant had been shipped on another charge, he was under a hold from Texas, so he had been shipped back to prison in Texas. They didn’t bring him up to testify at the trial so they introduced a transcript of his testimony at the preliminary hearing against Mr. Barber. So, Mr. Barber says, “I was denied my opportunity to confront a witness.” And, he filed his petition on that basis. So, I got appointed and went out to talk to him, he told me the story, and he said, he said, “I, it’s clear, they can’t do that, the case is Pointer versus Texas, you find that.” I said, “Well, I’ll go look it up.” So I go back to the library over at the courthouse and there is no Pointer versus Texas, the case doesn’t exist. So, I go back out there and tell him that there is no Pointer versus Texas. He said, “Well, it’s a slip opinion, they haven’t published it yet.” He knew all about it. So, sure enough, I located a copy of the opinion and it was right on target. So, I presented it to the court and the district court ruled against me, the federal district court ruled against me so I appealed it. And, it was the appeal, because the Tenth Circuit was then sitting in, at that session was going to be in Denver, they appointed a lawyer in Denver to handle that part of it. Well, he called me. And he said, “Well, tell me about this case” and I said, “Let me tell you, this guy that we’re representing knows more about the law than I do and he’s right so, yeah, move forward." Well, he did; he presented it to the Tenth Circuit, and he lost it. So, he called me and asked, “What should I do?” and I said, “Appeal it.” So, he appealed it, goes to the U.S. Supreme Court. Well, then they appoint a lawyer in Washington, DC and I get a call from him. Same thing, and I told him the same story, I said “This guy’s right.” So, he handled it and, sure enough, after three years or so down the road now the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion that said give him a new trial or turn him loose. Well, by that time all of his co-defendants had already been released on parole and so they, they let him out. So, that was, that was most memorable and I, he, while he was, before he got let out, one day I get a package at the office addressed to me from some lady I didn’t know. Come to find out, it was his mother, but it was a purse he had made, hand-tooled leather, westerny-looking thing that had SP on it and one of the secretaries said, “Oh isn’t this neat, he’s put State Penitentiary.” Well, my wife’s name is Sharon so it was for her. So, that was my payment for three years of work.