OKLAHOMA CAPITOL -- Mike Norman, Oklahoma 15th Judicial District judge, received the 2007 Judicial Award for Excellence at the National Child Support Enforcement Association conference for his support of the Court Liaison Program, funded by the Child Support Enforcement Division of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
NCSEA only selects one judge in the United States per year for this national recognition.
NCSEA President Mary Ann Wellbank presented Norman the award in Orlando, Fla., on Aug. 7.
“Judge Norman was the first to initiate the use of a ‘problem-solving court’ approach in 2001 in reference to child support enforcement cases in Oklahoma,” said Wellbank. “He emphasized helping non-custodial parents obtain and keep jobs to enable payment of their child support obligations. Beginning in the five counties in Judge Norman’s district, this approach has expanded into central Oklahoma, as well as other areas of the state, resulting in significant increases in child support payments for Oklahoma’s children and substantial incarceration cost-savings for the state.”
Wellbank cited three outcomes of the program: a dramatic increase in child support collections from a group of people with poor payment histories, significant savings for the state and for the individual in terms of avoiding the high cost of incarceration, and important, positive changes in terms of individual quality of life.
Upon Norman’s acceptance of the national judicial excellence award, he responded with his unique blend of humor and humility.
“Yesterday, someone here asked me how we handle our really tough cases. I said I don’t know that we have something special for our tough cases, but we always start our docket with the delinquent child support defendants in handcuffs and their orange jail clothes as they make an appearance for all to see in the courtroom. That helps to get the point across that we hold people accountable for taking care of their children.”
Norman also gave credit to the team of professionals in his district who support child support efforts.
“I am honored to receive this award. I am not the smartest judge or the hardest working judge in Oklahoma, but I work with exceptional people – the child support attorneys, caseworkers, court liaison coordinators and district court staff. Their hard work and competence make the difference. Their efforts make me look good, and they deserve a lot of the credit.”