Steven W. Taylor, from McAlester, Oklahoma, was appointed as a State Regent by Governor Kevin Stitt in May 2019, serving a nine-year term ending in 2028. The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education is the constitutional coordinating board for the Oklahoma colleges and universities responsible for allocating state funds, setting admission standards and academic policies.
Taylor is a retired Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court. He is also a former Mayor of McAlester, Oklahoma. Taylor served as the presiding judge in the state trial of the Oklahoma City Bombing.
Taylor was born in Henryetta, Oklahoma. During his high school years at McAlester High School, he served as the student body president and as a member of the speech and debate team as well as the state and national honor societies. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Oklahoma State University (OSU) in Stillwater, Oklahoma and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Oklahoma (OU) College of Law in Norman, Oklahoma. While a student at OSU, he was actively involved in student government and honor society and was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity.
From 1970-78, Taylor served in the United States Marine Corps. During his military career, after his training as an infantry platoon commander, he served as a prosecutor, defense counsel, and ultimately as a Special Court Martial Judge. He became the youngest judge in the U.S. Armed Forces at the age of 28. He was later promoted to the rank of major.
Following a two-year stint on the McAlester City Council, he served as the city’s youngest mayor from 1982 to 1984. In 1985, the City of McAlester named its new industrial park the “Steven W. Taylor Industrial Park” in recognition of his economic development efforts as mayor. In recent years, Justice Taylor has also been recognized as “Citizen of the Year” in McAlester.
From 1984-94, he served as Associate District Judge in the 18th Judicial District. In 1991, he was the first Associate District Judge ever to be elected President of the Oklahoma Judicial Conference. From 1994 to 2004, he served as Chief Judge of the 18th Judicial District, which encompasses Pittsburg and and McIntosh counties. In his over 20 years as a trial judge, he presided over more than 500 jury trials, including numerous murder trials. Most notably, he presided over the state trial of the Oklahoma City bombing case. That historic trial of 161 counts of first-degree murder against Terry Nichols was conducted in McAlester, Oklahoma after Taylor ordered a change of venue from Oklahoma City.
Governor Brad Henry appointed Taylor to the Oklahoma Supreme Court in September 2004. Oklahomans voted to retain him in the 2006 and 2010 general elections. He served a term as Chief Justice from January 2011 until January 2013. Taylor retired from the Supreme Court on December 31, 2016, after 33 years of judicial service. After his retirement and in recognition of his long public service, the Pittsburg County Court buildings in McAlester, Oklahoma were named “The Justice Steven W. Taylor Courthouse Complex.”
Taylor is active in several civic and professional organizations. He is a board member of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and also serves on the board of directors of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. He currently serves as Chairman of the Puterbaugh Foundation in McAlester, Oklahoma and is past Chairman of the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Taylor served for several years on the Board of Visitors of the University of Oklahoma College of Law. He is the co-author of University of Oklahoma College of Law: A Centennial History, a book published in 2009 detailing the 100-year history of the OU law school.
In recognition of his public service and significant contributions to Oklahoma, Taylor has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors. In 1983, he was named one of the “Three Outstanding Young Oklahomans.” The Oklahoma Bar Association granted him the “Award of Judicial Excellence” in 2003. Oklahoma State University recognized Taylor as a “Leadership Legacy” in 2002 and a “Distinguished Alumnus” in 2003, and he was inducted into the OSU Hall of Fame in 2007. Additionally, the University of Oklahoma presented him with its Regents Alumni Award in 2009, and with this award, Taylor became the only person ever to receive the highest alumni recognition from both Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma. During the 2007 Oklahoma Centennial year, OKLAHOMA magazine named Taylor as one of the “100 Who Shaped Us” – a list of living and past Oklahomans who influenced the first 100 years of our state. In 2009, Taylor was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, the highest honor an Oklahoman can receive from the state. In 2017, Justice Taylor was inducted into the OU College of Law Hall of Fame. Taylor married his wife, Mary E.B. Taylor, a retired public school teacher, in 1978. They have one son, Wilson.