Oklahoma AG: overturn McGirt ruling affecting major crimes jurisdiction

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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – The Oklahoma Attorney General wants the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn or limit the McGirt decision.

The Court held that a large area of Oklahoma qualifies as “Indian country” for purposes of the Major Crimes Act. That area of the state at one time was within the boundaries of the Creek Nation.

The McGirt vs Oklahoma Supreme Court decision ruled that certain major crimes committed within reservation boundaries must be prosecuted in federal court if a Native American is involved.

AG John M. O’Connor filed the petition. “Some theories sound good in concept but don’t work in the real world. The U.S. Supreme Court got this decision wrong and we are respectfully asking the Court to overturn its decision or to limit it to certain federal crimes. The most effective way to right this terrible wrong is for the court to overturn the McGirt decision. Without action, the negative consequences will damage Oklahomans for years to come.”

Criminal Cases Overturned

O’Connor’s petition also asks the court to continue allowing the state to imprison violent felons convicted before the McGirt Ruling.

Following the McGirt ruling, the courts have overturned several criminal cases.

Attorney General O’Connor said the McGirt decision is “recklessly overbroad” and has thrown Oklahomans into danger of having no law enforcement respond to a call for help.

Tribal Jurisdictions In Oklahoma Map From Odot Website Final

(Map above shows Tribal Jurisdictions In Oklahoma)

“Victims of atrocious crimes are being revictimized by going through the legal process a second time, and, in some instances, seeing their loved one’s killer set free because federal prosecutors cannot file the claims against the released convicts,” Attorney General O’Connor said.

(Previous Article: Supreme Court ruling to change judicial process for tribal members in much of Oklahoma)

The McGirt Decision

The case centers around Shaun Bosse’s conviction. He’s a non-Native American who brutally murdered a Chickasaw mother and her two young children.

In May, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to keep Bosse on Oklahoma’s death row while they considered reviewing the questions about Oklahoma’s criminal jurisdiction.

You can find more information on the decision here: Supreme Court upholds American Indian treaty promises, orders Oklahoma to follow federal law.

AG’s Legal Representation

The Attorney General’s office retained Kannon Shanmugam and the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to assist in providing legal representation to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in McGirt.

According to the AG’s office, Shanmugam is one of the nation’s most renowned appellate litigators. Shanmugam has argued 32 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. The attorney general also worked with Ryan Leonard related to this case. He’s an Oklahoma City attorney retained by Governor Kevin Stitt.

AG’s Petition

“For the reasons stated by the Chief Justice in his dissent, McGirt was wrongly decided, and its disruptive effects in Oklahoma are unprecedented,” the petition reads. “While the Court believed that compromise or congressional action could limit the disruption from its decision, it is now clear that neither is forthcoming.”

“The tribes do not agree among themselves, much less with the State, on the proper path forward and Congress is unlikely to adopt any proposal not supported by all of the parties involved,” it continues. “Only the Court can remedy the problems it has created, and this case provides it with an opportunity to do so before the damage becomes irreversible.”

You can read the brief below, or, click here.

Oklahoma AG files petition to overturn the McGirt decision (2021)