Published on: Saturday, August 15, 2020

State and federal prosecutors from other regions may be appearing in Tulsa federal court soon in response to a flood of new cases hitting two U.S. District Courts in Oklahoma due to the recent Supreme Court decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma, No. 18-9526 (July 9, 2020), previously discussed here. Prosecutors and support staff from across the nation will be assisting U.S. Attorney Offices in Eastern and Northern Districts of Oklahoma, article available here.

The court ruling came in a case involving Jimcy McGirt, a Seminole Nation tribal member who challenged whether the state had jurisdiction to prosecute him in Rogers County on the grounds that Congress never disestablished the Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation. The win for McGirt means he and others prosecuted in state court are now facing charges in federal court. The ruling also means future cases within the Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation will be tried in federal or tribal courts when either the victim or suspect is American Indian. Muscogee (Creek) Nation is more than an hour away from Oklahoma City, and covers an area closer to Tulsa.

The decision puts in doubt hundreds or thousands of Oklahoma state convictions. Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter has said that across the state he expects between 1,500 to 2,000 cases to be challenged.

Though the McGirt case was specific to the Creek reservation, the decision could apply to the other members of the Five Tribes — the Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws and Seminoles.