Does McGirt Precedent Apply to Municipal Courts?

On February 2, 2021, Judge McCune, the presiding judge for Tulsa Municipal Court, ruled that the City of Tulsa maintains jurisdiction over Indians who are alleged to have committed offenses within the boundaries of the City of Tulsa, irrespective of the McGirt holding. 

McCune found that Section 14 of the Curtis Act is still in full force and effect. Said section provides that “all inhabitant of such cities and towns, without regard to race, shall be subject to all laws and ordinances of such city or town governments, and shall have equal rights, privileges, and protection therein.” 

In the matter before Judge McCune, the defendant asserted that as a political subdivision of the State of Oklahoma, the City of Tulsa could not exercise authority beyond that which the State can exercise.  The defendant further cited Muscogee (Creek) Nation v. Hodel, 670 F. Supp. 434 (1987), for the proposition that the Curtis Act of 1898 does not grant the city subject matter jurisdiction over Indians. 

In denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss, and determining that the municipal court has jurisdiction over Indian defendants, Judge McCune acknowledged the awkwardness of the scenario his order creates.  The order finds his court has jurisdiction even though the State courts above it, which would normally hear appeals of his decisions, do not have jurisdiction. 

However, McCune’s order noted that appeals from Indian cases in his court would be heard in Federal court, which is where this case is likely to end up.

"Make law easy!"