Oklahoma Christian University alumnus Paul Woodward is currently in his third term as a district judge for the Fourth Judicial District of Oklahoma.
Born and raised in northwest Oklahoma, Woodward graduated from Oklahoma Christian in 1982, where he was a member of Delta Gamma Sigma, before entering law school at Oklahoma City University. After graduating with his Juris Doctor degree, he practiced private law in Enid, OK, until 2007. Woodward said he did a lot of work in criminal law.
“I started off not wanting to do criminal work as a lawyer,” Woodward said. “I got court appointed on a murder case when I was a young lawyer, and it was so fascinating that I thought, ‘I need to do criminal law.’ It was not planned at all.”
According to Woodward, he had an interest in law long before he wanted to be a judge. After practicing private law for around 22 years, Woodward became a special judge in Garfield County in 2007 before being elected for his first term as a district judge in 2010.
“I’m honored and humbled that the citizens would elect me,” Woodward said. “I pledge to work hard and be a fair and impartial judge for them.”
District judge terms are four years each and have no term limit, and Woodward said he thinks he will continue to do this for a while.
“I handle felony criminal cases, and that takes up probably 40 to 50 percent of my time,” Woodward said. “As a district judge, I go to four different counties—Garfield, Kingfisher, Grant and Blaine. In all the counties but Garfield I do all the felony trials and that kind of thing.”
According to Woodward, he would advise students wanting to pursue a career in law to study hard.
“English is really important because you have to communicate well, so pay attention to your English courses,” Woodward said. “There’s a lot of different degrees, depending on what you like, that you can use in law. But education is obviously critical.”
Woodward said most case decisions are obvious choices, but some can be very difficult to make.
“You have to listen to the facts and apply the law to the best of your ability and make a decision,” Woodward said. “A judge’s job is to make a decision because somebody else can’t make it. They’re never in front of me if they could work it out.”
According to Woodward, he hopes to be known as fair, competent and someone who moved his cases along at a good pace. He said his education at Oklahoma Christian attributed to his success.
“I thought I got a good education at OC, so that helped me,” Woodward said. “[It] obviously helped me get into and do well in law school. You always carry your education with you.”