Oklahoma Lacked Jurisdiction to Charge Tribal Members With Crimes on What Is Tribal Land
Video Transcribed: Are you a tribal member who’s been charged with a criminal offense in state court? You’re probably going to want to listen to this. I’m Tulsa attorney, James Wirth, and I’m about to talk to you about the McGirt v Oklahoma issued today, July 9th, 2020, from the United States Supreme Court that may affect your rights.
So essentially what the court issued today is a finding that the Muscogee Creek Nation reservation of 1833 was never disestablished through Oklahoma statehood. And what that means is that a huge area of Northeast Oklahoma that’s been operating like it’s the state of Oklahoma is actually part of the Creek Nation reservation.
And I’ve got a map here to show where those boundaries are approximate. So we’re talking most of Tulsa County, including the city of Tulsa, except for a small portion on the north side, but also other counties as well. So we’ve got Creek County, Wagner part, a small part of Rogers County and Mayes County, Muskogee County, all of Okmulgee County, McIntosh, Okfuskee, and other areas of Oklahoma.
Now, based on the United States Supreme Court decision, are actually reservation land to the Muscogee Creek Nation. And what that means is that the state of Oklahoma lacked jurisdiction to charge tribal members with crimes that were allegedly committed in that area.
They lack that jurisdiction. Never should have charged them, even though they’ve been doing it for 100 years, and can’t do so now according to this decision.
So if you have a prior conviction or you have a case that’s pending, this may get that kicked right out of state court. At that point, it’s up to the federal government on whether they can prosecute in federal court or the tribal government whether they can prosecute and whether they want to prosecute there, depending on the type of crime and the severity of the crime.
So this may give you a fast track to dismissal if you have a pending case. If you have an old case, it may be grounds to get your conviction vacated. It may be grounds to go for an immediate expungement because you could assert that this conviction was never legitimate in the first place and therefore it is eligible for expungement now.
This is brand new. It’s coming out, we’re still reviewing and reading it, but we’re also getting ready for an inundation of defendants who are tribal members that were improperly tried in state court and how they can be held by getting their records cleaned, Oklahoma convictions overturned, and current charges dismissed. If you fall into one of these categories or you have McGirt questions about it, talk to a Tulsa criminal attorney at the Wirth Law Office by going to makelaweasy.com.