McGirt Has Led To Major Changes in Oklahoma
Video Transcribed: United States Supreme Court refuses to hear the Wallace appeal. I’m Oklahoma attorney James Wirth and I am a lawyer in Tulsa. I’m doing a video regarding an update in the Wallace case.
That is the case where the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals decided that McGirt, rather than just being an issue of subject matter jurisdiction, which can never be waived as they said in Bosse, reversed the Bosse case and found in the Wallace case that we’re going to refer to this as a new procedural rule where we can elect to make it retroactive or not, and we’re going to decide that it is not retroactive.
So there are many appeals regarding that issue. But the main one is in that case itself, the Wallace case where the defendant is a parish. And a petition for writ of certiorari was filed with the United Supreme Court by the defendant, in that case, requesting that the Supreme Court take it up because the ruling by the lower court, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, pretty much defies all precedent in the state regarding how issues related to subject matter jurisdiction are handled.
If the court never had the jurisdiction to hear the case in the first place and this person is still being held in jail or otherwise being punished based on that case, how can it not be relieved if they never had the jurisdiction? They never had the authority. How can we say, “Well, yeah. We acknowledged they never had the authority, they never had the jurisdiction. But it’s too late now, even though you continue to be punished for that?” It doesn’t make sense under Oklahoma law.
However, as a practical matter, many people in the state of Oklahoma obviously want to mitigate the damages caused by the decision in McGirt and want to prevent people from being released or having to be retried in federal court or tribal court. So it does seem that the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals in the Wallace case very much made an analysis based on results rather than based on precedent.
And that was a direct reversal of their case in Bosse. They decided just a few months before where they basically said, “Hey, if there’s any way not to do this and vacate this conviction, then we would do it. But we can’t find any way at all.”
However, a few months later apparently, they found a way in calling it a procedural issue only and downplaying or ignoring the issue, the fact that it’s a subject matter jurisdiction issue, to say that it doesn’t apply retroactively, so they can deny all these requests from prisoners for post-conviction relief.
But anyway, that was appealed to the United States Supreme Court. It was set for a conference on January 7th, 2022 for them to hear and decide whether they’re going to accept that case. That does require a vote of four of the nine Justices to accept the case. And ultimately, based on the decision that came out on January 10th, 2020, they decided not to accept that case.
So the United States Supreme Court is not going to hear the Wallace appeal. That does not necessarily mean that it’s over. There are other cases pending regarding this issue. The court may or may not accept those additionally. Just because it’s not heard as a direct appeal from the post-conviction in the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to the United States Supreme Court, there could still be other issues where it goes to lower federal courts as part of a habeas corpus appeal.
Additionally, my firm is actually looking at ways to challenge this in the Oklahoma Supreme Court, got a novel issue and way to do that. May have more information for you in the future as we develop that and pursue that further.
But the big news today is that Wallace is not going to be heard by the United States Supreme Court. They denied that. If you’ve got questions on how this applies to your case, you’re going to want to talk to an attorney about that privately, confidentially. To get that scheduled with somebody at my office, you can go online to makelaweasy.com.