James I. Phelps

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James I. Phelps

James I. Phelps

“He helped shape the destiny of Canadian County as lawyer, as judge of the probate court, as organizational worker and as a devoted citizen.” -
History of Oklahoma


Honorable James I. Phelps was born in Texas and received his law degree from the University of Texas in 1899, just before boarding a train and coming to El Reno in Oklahoma Territory, where he was admitted to the Territorial Bar. He quickly established himself among leaders in the practice of law and in political circles, and for some time was chairman of the Canadian County Democratic Central Committee. He served as district judge and in 1924 was elected a Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court and served until 1929. After a few years of private law practice, he returned to the bench until his retirement in 1938.

Fun fact

In one of his highest profile cases while on the bench, Judge James Phelps wrote a decision in 1925 which wiped out the Custer County superior court at Clinton, Oklahoma. Although the majority of the court agreed with Phelps, the court later revised the opinion.

Oklahoma connections

Phelps came to El Reno, Oklahoma, in 1899.


El Reno







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