Published on: Monday, March 1, 2021

As many as 10 death row inmates in Oklahoma, more than one-fifth of the state’s prisoners condemned to die, could escape execution because of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma concerning criminal jurisdiction in Indian Country.

The inmates have challenged their convictions in state court following the Supreme Court's ruling last year, dubbed the McGirt decision, that determined a large swath of eastern Oklahoma remains an American Indian reservation. The decision means that Oklahoma state prosecutors lack the authority to pursue criminal charges in cases in which the defendants, or the victims, are tribal citizens.

The cases of Bosse and nine other death row inmates are being reexamined in district court to determine if the defendant or victims are enrolled members of a federally recognized tribe and if the crime occurred on a tribal reservation, according to the attorney general’s office. If those conditions are met, it is likely the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals will toss the convictions and the cases could be retried in federal court.