“I have two children ages 8 and 10. I have often told them that words can hurt, whether or not they are intentional. And, if they do hurt someone, I have taught them to apologize.
“This is what I’m doing now. I am apologizing for a letter I recently wrote that unintentionally hurt my fellow Oklahomans.
“I have always strived to represent my constituents and their values with integrity and honor and I intend to continue to do so for the remainder of my term. However, I can make a mistake and, to quote a former U.S. Senator, “when I do, it’s a doozy.”
“As a lawyer and senator I have always respected the common sense judgment of Oklahomans – whether at the ballot box or the jury box – when presented with the facts.
“While I recognize that the Oklahoma civil justice system is far from perfect, I do think it may rank above the system in Texas in some respects, where judges are elected on partisan ballots and forced to raise millions of dollars in campaign contributions. In our state we seem to have avoided the kind of wild-eyed juries that Texas has a history of impaneling.”
“After working with Texas plaintiff and defense lawyers for years and watching the increasing partisanship of judicial elections, coupled with a recent statewide vote on changes in the Texas civil justice system, I wrote this letter to Texas attorneys introducing our firm and informing them that, if they had business in Oklahoma, our firm would like to work with them.
“In fact this is the kind of letter commonly sent to and received by attorneys. I regret that my letter gave the Wall Street Journal the opportunity to ridicule our state.
“We may indeed need to reform our civil justice system and I have supported such reforms in the past and expect to do so in the future. The people of Oklahoma will know best how to do this, and we should seek their input. And we should be certain that we ask the right questions. How do Oklahoma insurance rates compare with other states? What other states provide good models for civil justice? How many million dollar verdicts have there been in Oklahoma in recent years, and how many verdicts were zero? What role should insurance reform play in this debate as we strive to reform our civil justice system, and still protect the fundamental rights of our citizens?
“I regret both the wording of the letter and having sent it – and I take full responsibility. I certainly did not intend to encourage lawsuits that have no place in Oklahoma. I only meant to offer our firm’s assistance as local attorneys if a Texas lawyer had legitimate business in Oklahoma.”
“I hope the citizens of Oklahoma will find it in their hearts to forgive me. My respect for them is profound, and my love for this state is deep.”