Constitution Award

The Honorable David L Russell2013 Honoree

The Honorable David L. Russell
Senior U.S. District Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma

Born in Sapulpa, Russell earned his bachelor's degree from Oklahoma Baptist University in 1962 and his law degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Law in 1965. He served in the United States Navy, Judge Advocate General's Corps from 1965 to 1968, continuing to serve as a reservist until 1971 and achieving the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

Russell served as an assistant attorney general for Oklahoma from 1968 to 1969, and then was legal advisor to Gov. Dewey Bartlett from 1969 to 1971. He entered private practice in Oklahoma City for a year. When Bartlett was elected to the U.S. Senate, Russell was named his chief legislative assistant. Russell later was named U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma, serving in that position from 1975-77 and then again from 1981-82. As U.S. Attorney, he led the prosecution in Oklahoma county commissioner scandal, which is the largest public corruption case in U.S. history. He maintained a private practice in Oklahoma City, between those terms of service as U.S. Attorney.

Russell was nominated by President Reagan in December 1981 to a joint judicial seat for Oklahoma's Northern, Eastern and Western federal district courts that had been vacated by Frederick A. Daugherty. Russell was confirmed by the U.S. Senate and began serving as district judge in January 1982.

In 1990, he was reassigned by operation of law to serve on only the Western District of Oklahoma, where he served as chief judge from 1994 to 2001. It was during this tenure that he got the courthouse back in operation less than a week after the April 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. He took senior status on July 7, 2013.