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Magistrate Judges for the Northern District of Oklahoma

Following approval of the Federal Magistrates Act of 1968, the office of U.S. Commissioner was abolished and the new position of U.S. Magistrate was created. On February 15, 1971, the Northern District of Oklahoma appointed Morris L. Bradford of Tulsa as its first full-time U.S. Magistrate. The Court also appointed three part-time Magistrate Judges: Charles F. Burns, in Miami, Oklahoma; William W. Bailey, in Vinita; and James H. Laughlin, in Bartlesville. When the Court closed the Bartlesville and Vinita offices in February 1975, the Magistrate terms of Bailey and Laughlin ended. The Miami office continued to operate until it was closed in May 1987.


Morris L. Bradford (Full-time Magistrate, 1971-1976). In 1971, Morris Bradford was chosen to be the first full-time U.S. Magistrate in the Northern District. He was born in Illinois in 1909 and moved to Tulsa with his family as a young boy. Bradford graduated from Tulsa's Central High School in 1927, attended the University of Oklahoma, and earned a law degree from the University of Tulsa in 1936. He served as a Tulsa municipal judge until 1941 when he joined the Army Air Corps during World War II. He returned to Tulsa after the war and practiced with the firm Bradford, March, Hunt & Trippett. He was engaged in private law practice and also served as a U.S. Commissioner until 1971, when he was appointed to the U.S. Magistrate post. He resigned his magistrate position in 1976. Bradford died in 1994.


James H. Laughlin (Part-time Magistrate, Bartlesville, OK, 1971-1975).  James Laughlin was born in 1929 in Tulsa but grew up near Ramona. After a two-year stint in the Navy, he completed studies at Oklahoma Baptist University and graduated from the University of Oklahoma law school in 1953. He served briefly as Washington County Attorney before returning to private practice until 1975. He served four years as part-time U.S. Magistrate and spent nine years as Washington County Associate District Judge. During his time on the federal bench, he worked with the Cherokee Nation Center setting up a DUI school to help treat those with alcohol problems. He died in 2014.


William W. Bailey (Part-time Magistrate, Vinita, OK, 1971-1975.  William Bailey served as part-time U.S. Magistrate from 1971 until the Vinita office was closed in 1975.


Charles F. Burns (Part-time Magistrate, Miami, OK, 1971-1983).  Charles Burns was born in 1904. After serving as Ottawa County Attorney for several years, he was appointed part-time U.S. Magistrate in Miami, OK, in 1971, serving until 1983.

Claudine (“Dene”) Barnes Spalding (Part-time Magistrate, Tulsa, OK, 1972-1980).  Claudine Spalding was born in Tulsa in 1922. From 1941 to 1945, she was a civilian employee for the Air Force Technical Training Command in Oklahoma, North Carolina, Texas, and Colorado. She later served as secretary to the president of Service Pipe Line Co. in Tulsa, retiring in 1964 in order to attend the University of Tulsa College of Law. She received her law degree in 1967. Her temporary three-month appointment as law clerk to Allen Barrow, Chief Judge of the Northern District, stretched into 10 years – the last seven of which she also served as part-time U.S.  Magistrate. She left that position in 1980 and joined the Office of the Regional Solicitor, U.S. Department of the Interior. She retired as Assistant Regional Solicitor in 1988 and died in Tulsa in 2015.

Robert S. Rizley (Full-time Magistrate, 1977-1985).  Robert Rizley served as full-time U.S. Magistrate from May 1977 until his retirement in 1985. He was born in Guymon, in the Oklahoma panhandle, in 1923, and went on to earn degrees from the University of Oklahoma and the University of Michigan law school. His studies were interrupted twice for military service. Rizley was a Marine Corps officer in World War II and again during the Korean Conflict. In 1953, he moved to Tulsa to work for Skelly Oil Company. He was named an Assistant U.S. Attorney in 1955 and served as U.S. Attorney from 1958 to 1961. After he left the U.S. Attorney’s office, he practiced law with B. Hayden Crawford, another former U.S. Attorney, and was engaged in private law practice until his appointment as U.S. Magistrate in 1977. He served in that post until 1985, when he re-entered private practice. He retired in 2000 and died in Tulsa in 2006.

Charles W. Chesnut (Part-time Magistrate, Miami, OK, 1983-1987).  On May 31, 1983, Charles Chesnut was appointed part-time Magistrate in Miami, OK, replacing Charles F. Burns. Chesnut was born in Miami, OK, in 1952. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1974 and its law school in 1977. His tenure on the federal bench ended in 1987 when the Northern District closed its satellite offices in Bartlesville and Miami, OK.

John Leo Wagner (Full-time Magistrate, 1985-1997).  A native of Nebraska, John Wagner graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1976 and the University’s law school in 1979.  After five years as a litigation partner in an Oklahoma City law firm, Wagner moved to Tulsa to become a U.S. Magistrate. In that position, he oversaw the Court’s Alternative Dispute Resolution program and developed an expertise in ADR. He left the bench in 1997 to join a California law firm as head of its ADR workgroup. Since 2005, he has headed his own law firm, specializing in ADR, primarily mediation and arbitration.


Jeffrey S. Wolfe (Full-time Magistrate, 1987-1995). Jeffrey Wolfe was appointed to a new full-time U.S. Magistrate position in 1987. He was born in New York City in 1951, attended the University of California at San Diego, and earned his law degree from California Western School of Law in 1976. From 1977 to 1979, he was an assistant to the Dean of Oral Roberts University’s O. W. Coburn School of Law. He was an assistant city prosecutor from 1980 to 1982, before his appointment as U.S. Magistrate. After one term as a magistrate, Wolfe took a position as an administrative law judge with the Social Security Administration.

Sam A. Joyner (Full-time Magistrate Judge, 1995-2008).  Sam Joyner served as a part-time U.S. Magistrate in the Western District of Oklahoma for 20 years before his appointment to a full-time position in the Northern District. Joyner was appointed on June 1, 1995, to fill the vacancy created by Jeffery Wolfe’s decision not to seek reappointment. A native of Lawton, OK, Judge Joyner graduated from George Washington University in Washington D.C. in 1963 and the University of Oklahoma law school in 1966. He received a Master of Liberal Studies degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1987. Following law school, he was engaged in private practice in Lawton for 24 years before moving to Tulsa. After completing his first term as U.S. Magistrate, Joyner was reappointed in 2003. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and has been active in American Inns of Court and the Nimrod literary journal. Judge Joyner has a passion for photography. Over the years, he has studied with master photographers at various study centers including the Ansel Adams Photography Workshop, Yosemite, California, and the Maine Photographic Workshop, Rockport, Maine. Joyner retired from the bench in 2008 and has had an active mediation and arbitration practice since that time.

Frank H. McCarthy (Full-time Magistrate Judge, 1995- ).  Frank McCarthy was appointed to a new U.S. Magistrate position created in 1995. He was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 1952, attended Scranton schools, and earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Scranton in 1974. He moved to Oklahoma to attend the University of Tulsa College of Law, where he served on the law journal, graduated with honors in 1977, and was awarded the Order of the Curule Chair. McCarthy’s early practice was devoted to criminal defense. He spent eight years as Attorney/Deputy Chief Public Defender for Tulsa County before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 1985. There, he served as Assistant U.S. Attorney/Senior Litigation Counsel. After leaving the U.S. Attorney’s office, McCarthy spent eight years in private practice as a partner in the Barkley, Rodolf & McCarthy law firm, specializing in medical malpractice litigation. First appointed to the federal bench in 1995, he was reappointed in 2003, again in 2011, and again in 2018.

Claire V. Eagan (Full-time Magistrate Judge, 1998-2001).  In 1998, Claire Eagan was the first woman appointed as a full-time U.S. Magistrate in the Northern District of Oklahoma. Judge Eagan was born in the Bronx, New York City, in 1950 and graduated cum laude from Trinity College, Washington, D.C., in 1972. After studying abroad, she graduated with honors from Fordham University School of Law in 1976 where she served as an editor of the Law Review. Following graduation, Judge Eagan moved to Tulsa and served as law clerk to Chief U.S. District Judge Allen Barrow from 1976 to 1978. She then began a 20-year litigation career with the Tulsa law firm, Hall, Estill, Hardwick, Gable, Golden & Nelson. Judge Eagan received her first appointment to the federal bench when she was chosen to fill the vacancy created when John Leo Wagner resigned his U.S. Magistrate position to enter private practice. As a magistrate, she administered the Court’s Alternative Dispute Resolution program. In 2001 Magistrate Judge Eagan was nominated and confirmed as a District Judge for the Northern District of Oklahoma.

Paul J. Cleary (Full-time Magistrate Judge, 2002- ).  In 2002, Paul Cleary was selected to fill the vacancy created when Magistrate Judge Claire Eagan was appointed U.S. District Judge. Cleary was born in Providence, R.I., in 1950. He graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA, in 1971, and began a career in journalism, writing for newspapers and magazines in Massachusetts and Tennessee. He moved to Tulsa in 1977 and attended law school evenings at the University of Tulsa, while working as a reporter and political editor for the Tulsa World. He served on the Tulsa Law Journal, graduated with honors in 1981, and was awarded the Order of the Curule Chair. He continued as a columnist and member of the editorial board of the Tulsa World until 1985 when he left journalism to serve as law clerk to U.S. District Judge Thomas R. Brett. Thereafter, he joined the Tulsa law firm of Boone, Smith, Davis & Hurst, becoming a partner and director in 1993. His legal career concentrated on general business litigation and civil rights defense. He has authored law journal articles on the use of summary judgment in Oklahoma courts, and the problems created by poorly worded discovery requests and responses. Judge Cleary was appointed to the federal bench in 2002 and reappointed in 2010. In his position, he has managed the Court’s ADR program, overseeing 70 private attorneys who provide mediation services to the Court. He has lectured at the University of Tulsa College of Law and has taught Constitutional Law at Oklahoma State University and Tulsa Community College. He edited the Alternative Dispute Resolution newsletter of the American Bar Association’s Litigation Section (1995-2000) and served on the Oklahoma Board of Bar Examiners (2000-02), the Tulsa County Bar Association Professional Responsibility Committee (2001-02), and the Oklahoma Temporary Emergency Court of Appeals (1987). He was president of the Hudson-Hall-Wheaton Chapter of the American Inns of Court from 2003 to 2005. Cleary is an avid hiker and student of Indian rock art throughout the Southwest.

T. Lane Wilson (Full-time Magistrate Judge, 2009-2017).  In January 2009, T. Lane Wilson was appointed to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Sam Joyner. Wilson was born in Rockford, Illinois, in 1967. His family moved to Tulsa when he was child, before settling in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. In 1985, he graduated from Broken Arrow High School where he was a state champion tennis player. He continued his tennis career at the University of Tulsa, winning a Missouri Valley Tennis Championship in 1987. Judge Wilson graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering in 1989 and began work for a major oil and gas company in Chicago and Milwaukee. He left engineering in 1991 to attend the University of Tulsa College of Law, and received his degree with honors in 1994, finishing 3rd in his class. For his academic achievements, he was awarded the Order of the Curule Chair. Following law school graduation, Wilson joined the Tulsa law firm Hall, Estill, where he became a partner in 2000 and served on the Board of Directors in 2007. At Hall, Estill, his practice focused on complex commercial litigation, including both trial and appellate work. After 15 years in private practice, Wilson joined the federal bench. He served on the Tenth Circuit Judicial Council from 2013-15. He is married to Maureen Wilson and has three children. In his free time, he has coached local high school tennis programs. He continues to play tennis competitively and is an avid snow skier. Judge Wilson retired from his judicial post in 2017 to become General Counsel for Williams Cos., Inc.

Jodi F. Jayne (Full-time Magistrate Judge, 2017- ) In September of 2017, Jodi Fowler Jayne was appointed to fill the vacancy created by the departure of Judge T. Lane Wilson. Jayne was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and graduated from Union High School. She received a full-tuition Churchill Scholarship to Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, where she graduated summa cum laude with a double major in English and Business Communication. She served as Student Government Association president and received the Alumni Outstanding Senior Award. Jayne was awarded the full-tuition Comfort Scholarship to attend the University of Oklahoma College of Law, where she received American Jurisprudence awards for legal writing, graduated Order of the Coif, and served as editor-in-chief of the Oklahoma Law Review. Following graduation, Jayne served as a law clerk for U.S. District Judge Sven Holmes and joined the firm of GableGotwals as a litigation associate. She later accepted a position as a career law clerk for U.S. District Judge Terence Kern and served in this capacity until being appointed as a U.S. Magistrate. Jayne received the Outstanding Young Lawyer and Golden Rule professionalism awards from the Tulsa County Bar Association. Jayne is chairing a Community Outreach Committee for the Northern District of Oklahoma, which is focused on civics education and community involvement. She is married to fellow attorney Andrew Jayne and has two children. She spends her free time doing yoga, watching little league, leading a Girl Scout troop, and reading novels.