Michael A. Risley, Esq.

Attorney & Counselor at Law

Michael Risley


Michael Risley received his B.A. from the University of Oklahoma in 2005. As an undergraduate, Mr. Risley spent seven months in northeastern Thailand doing human rights work, where he learned the value of doing the right thing, even in the face of adversity. 

In 2008, at the University of Tulsa College of Law, Mr. Risley was awarded the American Bar Association's Curtin Fellowship for his work in alternative sentencing for homeless defendants.

Unable to refuse the call of home, Mr. Risley returned to O.U. in 2009, where he did pro bono criminal defense work for low- and no-income clients at the O.U. College of Law's Criminal Defense Clinic. He was awarded his J.D in 2010 and admitted to the Oklahoma Bar in the same year. 

Mr. Risley was born in Singapore to his Norwegian mother and American father, and split his childhood between England and Oklahoma. His out-of-the-ordinary life experience has instilled in him a long standing respect for diversity and a commitment to serving others, which he puts at the forefront of his legal practice.

Mr. Risley now lives in Oklahoma City with his beautiful wife, Dr. Erin E. Risley-Baird, their daughter, and their two rescue dogs: Holden and Rowdy.

Professional Activities

  • American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys, 10 Best Law Firms (2019, 2020)
  • The National Trial Lawyers, Top 40 Under 40 (2019, 2020)
  • American Trial Academy, Top 2% (2020)
  • American Society of Legal Advocates, Top 40 Under 40 (2019)
  • Super Lawyers (2018)
  • Speaker, Francis Tuttle T.O.P. Program: "Erasing Criminal Records: Expungements, Pardons, and Modification" (2017)
  • Speaker, University of Oklahoma Criminal Defense Clinic: "Real Life Criminal Defense" (2015)
  • Speaker, Oklahoma Association of Municipal Attorneys: "Expungements" (2015)
  • Speaker, University of Oklahoma College of Law Guest Speaker Series: "How to Start Your Own Law Practice" (2015)
  • American Bar Association's Commission on Homelessness and Poverty: Curtin Fellowship Recipient (2008)

Laws Drafted

  • SB 2140 (2014), amending 22 O.S. §18/19. Run by Rep. Cory T. Williams (D-Stillwater). Passed the Senate 45-2, passed the House 62-17, and signed by Governor Mary Fallin on 05/28/2014.

  • HB 2397 (2016), amending 22 O.S. §18/19. Run by Rep. Travis Dunlap (R-Bartlesville). Passed the House 88-0, passed the Senate 42-0, signed by Governor Mary Fallin on 06/06/2016.

Appellate Decisions

  • J.M.L. v. State, 2018 OK 103, 433 P.3d 726: The District Court of Tulsa County denied Petitioner's expungement request, finding that the Court did not have jurisdiction to expunge the records of the municipal criminal court. Held: the terms of 22 O.S. §18/19 give express authority to the District Court to expunge municipal criminal records, consistent with the 2016 amendments to the statute and Oklahoma's long term policy of liberally construing remedial statutes. Order denying expungement reversed.

  • Fry v. State of Oklahoma ex rel. Dept. of Corrections, 2017 OK 77, 404 P.3d 38: The Dept. of Corrections refused to honor an "override order" issued pursuant to 57 O.S. §582.5(D), and objected to Petitioner's Level 1 deregistration on a strained reading of the Supreme Court's holding in Starkey v. Dept. of Corrections. Held: even where it serves as an exception to the general rule that sex offenders are subject to the registration requirements in effect at the time they became subject to the Oklahoma Sex Offender Act, the Dept. is still required to honor override orders. Order removing Petitioner from the Sex Offender Registry affirmed.

  • Nitz v. State, 2017 OK CIV APP 20, 394 P.3d 305: The trial court denied Petitioner's "romeo and juliet" deregistration request because the express terms of the statute, 57 O.S. §590.2, only allowed in-state applicants to deregister, while disallowing out-of-state applications. Petitioner argued that this violated his 14th Amendment guarantee of Equal Protection under the law. The trial court disagreed, finding that the State had a "rational basis" for this discrimination because the District Attorney would need access to the "internal work product and case file notes" of the out of state prosecutors to make their arguments. Held: the State of Oklahoma's "rational basis" for such discrimination is insufficient, as Petitioner has the burden of proving the elements of his claim. The discriminatory language of the enactment violates Petitioner's 14th Amendment's Equal Protection guarantees. Order denying deregistration reversed and case remanded for another hearing. On remand, Petitioner's deregistration was granted.

Pending Cases:

  • Michael A. Risley et. al. v. State of Oklahoma, ex rel. the Oklahoma Pardon & Parole Board, DF-118372 (Oklahoma Supreme Court): Petitioners received felony deferred sentences more than 10 years ago, and filed applications for a Governor's pardon with the Pardon & Parole Board to assist with their immigration applications. The Board rejected Petitioner's applications on the basis of O.A.C. 515:20-3-1 and a misreading of Article 6, §10 of the Oklahoma Constitution. Petitioner argued that discriminating against deferred sentence pardon applicants, while allowing suspended sentence pardon applications to proceed, is a violation of Petitioners' 14th Amendment's Equal Protection guarantees. Additionally, the Board's incorrect reading of Article 6, §10 ignores controlling Supreme Court interpretations of that the Article. The trial court agreed with the Board, and Petitioner appeals.

  • V.C.B. v. State of Oklahoma, DF-118068 (Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals): Petitioner pled to Forgery 2nd Degree and received a two year deferred sentence, beginning on 02/23/2012 and ending on 02/23/2014. On 06/23/2013, the District Attorney filed an application to accelerate. After one continuance, the application was dismissed on 11/25/2014, at the State's request. The expungement statute at 22 O.S. §18 requires that "at leave five (5) years have passed since the charge was dismissed", and Petitioner sought an expungement, five years from the end of the deferred sentence. Despite a decade of practice to the contrary, new counsel at the OSBI objected, asserting that Petitioner was required to wait five years from the dismissal of the State's application to accelerate. The trial court agreed with the OSBI, and Petitioner appeals.

  • Riggle v. State of Oklahoma, DF-118029 (Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals): Petitioner registered as a Level 1 Offender from 2007-2019, and then sought a Level 1 deregistration under 57 O.S. §583(E). Upon receipt of Petitioner's Petition, the Dept. of Corrections realized that Petitioner had been incorrectly registered for 12 years, and that he should actually be a Level 2 offender. Petitioner argued that the Dept. was equitably estopped from asserting a mistake defense because of their extensive opportunities to correct this mistake, over the course of more than a decade. The trial court agreed with the Dept., and Petitioner appeals.

  • Reeves v. State of Oklahoma, DF-117562 (Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals): Petitioner was labeled as a Level 1 Offender from 2007-2014. Following the Oklahoma Supreme Court's decision in Starkey v. Dept. of Corrections, Petitioner's Level 1 designation was removed. Petitioner later filed for a Level 1 deregistration under 57 O.S. §583(E), asserting on appeal that the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection clause prohibits the State of Oklahoma from treating Petitioner - a Level 1 offender for seven years - differently from other post-Starkey Level 1 offenders. The trial court found for the Dept. on other grounds, and Petitioner appeals.

Bar Admissions