Justice Douglas L. Combs

Supreme Court Judicial District 8

Douglas Lee Combs was born October 17, 1951, in Shawnee, Oklahoma.  He is a fourth generation Oklahoman and a member of Muskogee Nation.  His grandmother, Beulah Doyle, attended Chilocco Indian School, and was an original allottee under the Dawes Act.  Combs retains an interest in the allotment.  His father, Dr. Leon Combs, was the first board certified family practitioner in Oklahoma. He traces his ancestry back to the Earl of Combes in Stratford-On-Avon.  One of Combs relatives sold land to William Shakespeare, and Shakespeare left another cousin his sword in his will.  Hall of Famer, cousin Earle Combs, played for the New York Yankees, and at the time, was considered the best lead-off man in the American League.  He played on what was considered the best team the Yankees ever fielded.  It included teammates Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Wait Hoyt, and Tony Lazzeri.  When Ruth, Combs, and Gehrig were on a barn storming tour in 1929, they played a game in Oklahoma City and signed a baseball for his grandfather Troy Combs at the Skirvin Hotel which Combs treasures. He can relate to the movie Sandlot, having played with the priceless ball as a child visiting his grandparents.

Athletics has played an important part in Combs life.  After he graduated from Shawnee High School in 1969, he attended St. Gregory’s Junior College on an athletic scholarship for basketball and golf, and he played in the National Junior College Golf Tournament in 1970.  He subsequently transferred to the University of Oklahoma, where he received a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 1973. He received a Juris Doctorate Degree from Oklahoma City University School of Law in 1976.  He worked as a deputy court clerk for the Oklahoma Supreme Court while he was in law school.  After graduation he served as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Oklahoma under Attorney General Larry Derryberry.  In 1977, he returned to Shawnee and became an associate with the firm of Henry, West & Sill.  Combs first met Charles Henry and Terry West when he was 12 years old and Henry and West were his baseball coaches.  Combs later became a partner in the firm of Henry, West, Sill, Combs, & Henry until 1982 when he opened his law office in Shawnee. 

Combs began his judicial career in January of 1995 when he was selected as a Special Judge for the Twenty-third Judicial District, serving both Pottawatomie and Lincoln Counties. In November 2022, he began serving as a District Judge, and was elected to that post twice without opposition.  While serving as a Special Judge, Combs was responsible for the establishment of the first Drug Court in the Twenty-third Judicial District and the fourth Drug Court in the State of Oklahoma. He presided over the Drug Court docket both as a Special Judge and District Judge until his appointment to the Supreme Court. Combs is the only current appellate judge to have presided over a Drug Court docket.  He was Chief Judge of the Twenty-third Judicial District and Presiding Judge of the North Central Judicial Administrative District, which encompasses Kay, Lincoln, Logan, Noble, Payne, and Pottawatomie Counties.  He was a member of the Executive Board of the Oklahoma Judicial Conference as a Special Judge and District Judge, and of the legislative committee for the Judicial Conference for more than 15 years.  Combs was President of the Judicial Conference in 2009.  While he was a District Judge, he also served as a member of the Oklahoma Court on the Judiciary.

On January 1, 2011, Governor Brad Henry appointed Combs to serve as Supreme Court Justice for District 8, following the retirement of Justice Rudolph Hargrave of Wewoka, Oklahoma.  Justice Hargrave had served the State of Oklahoma since 1974.  Justice Combs was Vice Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court from 2015-2016 and Chief Justice from December 1, 2016, until December 31, 2018.  During a portion of his tenure as justice, Combs also served as a member of the Oklahoma Court on the Judiciary, Appellate Division.  He was also responsible for establishing the Access to Justice Commission which led to the creation of the Oklahoma Access to Justice Foundation, and enhancement of the Court Reporter programs at Gordon Cooper Career Tech in Shawnee and OKC-OSU to meet the pressing need of Court Reporters in Oklahoma.  He received the Marion P. Opala Lifetime Achievement Award from Oklahoma City University in 2022, for his service to the Oklahoma Judiciary.  His community service is reflected by being inducted into the Shawnee Education Foundation Hall of Fame as well as the Shawnee High School Basketball Hall of Fame.  He was honored by the Oklahoma Bar Association by receiving the W.G. Paul Oklahoma Justice Award for his commitment of the promise of equal justice for all.  

Justice Combs has been married to his wife, Janet for 48 years. Janet was a teacher and choreographer who studied under prima ballerina Yvonne Chouteau.  Prior to her retirement in 2010, she owned and operated a private dance studio in Shawnee, the Shawnee Academy of Ballet, for 34 years. 

Occasionally, Combs assisted in demonstrating ballroom (including tango), county western, and disco dancing.  The couple has two sons, Christopher and Eric — both members of the Oklahoma Bar Association.  They have four grandchildren, Allie, Kate, Quinn, and Nash Douglas, who either have or will be given golf clubs just as soon as they can hold them. Combs has served as a volunteer Gallery Guard for the Master’s Tournament in Augusta Georgia since 2013.  He is a low single handicap golfer who has shot his age or better several times, and recorded a hole in one on the 16th hole at Augusta National Golf Club.  He is also a course rater for Golf Digest.  He displays four autographed photos in his home office:  Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and —- Sandra Day O’Connor.  During his district court campaigns, he drove his golf cart in parades.  When Justice O’Connor visited to keynote The Sovereignty Symposium, he brought it to Red Earth for her to visit the festival.

He and Janet are members of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Shawnee.  Justice Comb’s brother, Craig Combs, recently retired as the Administrative Director of the Oklahoma Bar Association.  His cell phone ringtone is Kelly Clarkson’s What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger.

Staff of Justice Combs

Judicial Assistant Marty Skrapka 405-556-9361
Judicial Assistant Seldon Jones 405-556-9361

News Mentions

2022 Elections

November 9, 2022

Oklahoma voters retained Justices Combs, Winchester, Rowe, and Kuehn for new terms on November 8, 2022.   Justices Combs, Winchester, and Rowe will serve a six-year term.  Justice Kuehn, appointed by the Governor on the retirement of Justice Tom Colbert, will finish his term in 2024. In 2024, she will be on the retention ballot for […]

Published Opinions

- Authored by Justice Douglas L. Combs

This list contains published opinions in which the Justice is the author of the majority opinion. This is not an exhaustive list of works by the Justice. Per Curium opinons, secondary writings and general orders are not included.

the gavel denotes service as Chief Justice.