The Municipalities Cease to Become Subdivisions of the Federal Government
Video Transcribed: Now that the McGirt v Oklahoma decision has been handed down, how does that impact you in municipal court? My name is Brian L. Jackson. I am an attorney in Tulsa, Ok, and we’re going to talk today about McGirt and municipal court. At first blush, this would seem like an easy question. I can tell you it’s not.
There are a number of municipalities, Tulsa being one of them, where the city or town actually is older than the state of Oklahoma. Some of these cities were actually incorporated when Oklahoma was still a territory, Indian territory.
There was actually a law on the books called the Curtis Act that was designed to deal with this exact situation and actually authorized these cities to incorporate as subdivisions of the federal government and pass their own ordinances that they could then enforce criminally.
If you are looking at a ticket in a jurisdiction, and Tulsa is one of these jurisdictions, where the city’s existence predates statehood, you may indeed, even if you are Indian, and even if you are a member of a recognized tribe, even if the city is located in Indian country, still be subject to the jurisdiction of that municipal court.
Now, if you’ll forgive a bad pun, the jury is still out on whether or not the appellate courts are going to apply McGirt to municipalities because there’s still some discussion as to whether when statehood occurred, the municipalities cease to become subdivisions of the federal government.
This is a dynamic area of law and what ultimately happens with it still remains to be seen based on whatever it is that the state court of criminal appeals and probably ultimately, the federal Supreme Court decides they want to do with that situation.
As of right now, there are municipal courts that are assuming jurisdiction over defendants who would otherwise be exempt from state jurisdiction under McGirt. Something to be aware of, guys. This is an interesting and dynamic area of law.
If you have a question, you’re facing a municipal charge of some kind and you are Indian, I would recommend you contact us at MakeLawEasy.com, and we’ll take a look at your situation and try and help you out.