CRF Courts Are Courts of Indian Affairs
Video Transcribed: What are CRF Courts? I’m Tulsa attorney, James Wirth. And we’re talking about some issues relevant to Indian law in Oklahoma. And the question is what are CRF Courts? CRF Courts are courts of Indian affairs.
So we’re seeing this a lot under McGirt, where we’re seeing a lot more cases that are on tribal land and are going to tribal court, not all tribes have a tribal court. So the federal government has created a court system to handle court cases on behalf of some tribes that don’t have federal courts. And those are the courts of Indian defenses or the CRF Courts.
Now, why are they called CRF courts? CRF courts because CRF is a Code of Federal Regulations. Essentially these are courts that were made through administrative rules, not through statutes passed by Congress, or signed by the president. So the CRF Courts were instituted by the Department of Interior and the code that they use to prosecute offenses in that court is from the CRF or the Code of Federal Regulations. That’s where that name comes from. But ultimately it is the court of Indian offenses.
So, if you’ve got a crime that was committed on the tribal territory by an Indian, the state is going to lack jurisdiction to prosecute that crime. So it would have to go either to the tribal court or to the federal court. But what if the tribe that is involved doesn’t have its own court? That is why the secretary in Syria long ago created the CRF courts where it could be prosecuted.
There are actually five total CRF Courts in the United States that are broken down into five divisions, two of which are in Oklahoma. So for Oklahoma, we’ve got the Southern Plains CRF Court, and which is involved in the prosecution of cases related to the Apache Tribe, Cato Nation, Fort Sill Apache, Cawa Indian Tribe.
And then also in Oklahoma, we’ve got the Eastern Oklahoma Region CRF court, which handles the Eastern Shawnee tribe, Modoc tribe, Ottawa tribe, Peoria tribe, and Seneca tribe.
So for tribes that do not have their own tribal court, their laws can be enforced through the CRF Courts. It’s become more relevant recently, just because we’ve been hearing a lot more about Indian law related to the McGirt case, however, the courts, or I should say the tribes involved and the decisions related to McGirt do actually have their own tribal court. So I don’t know that we’re seeing a lot more cases going into CRF courts, but we have seen a lot more attention to Indian law.
If you’ve got questions about Indian law in Oklahoma, maybe it’s relevant to your case or the case of somebody you know, you’re going to want to talk to a McGirt attorney about that to get a legal consultation privately. To get that scheduled with somebody at my office, you can go online to makelaweasy.com.