Native American law expert sees McGirt staying, some issues to be addressed


A federal prosecutor turned private attorney in Native American law says that despite the current standoff between Governor Kevin Stitt and the tribes, there is a way forward – and there must be, because the McGirt ruling is likely here to stay.

Choctaw citizen and former US District Attorney for Northern Oklahoma Trent Shores said there was different justice on the court since the 5-4 decision in July 2020. Conservative Amy Coney Barrett replaced the late judge liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“But, you know, we saw this composition of the Supreme Court decide an Indian case, and it was a 9-0 decision, a unanimous decision in favor of recognizing a tribe’s sovereign ability to protect its powers. government inherent, ”Shores said. .

This case is United States v. Cooley, decided in June. The court ruled on tribal governments, and as a result, their police officers can arrest and search non-Indians traveling on reservations on public roads.

Shores said the civilian impacts of McGirt were not fleshed out, as the decision related only to criminal jurisdiction. Shores said another question that remained to be resolved was whether Native Americans convicted in state court of crimes on tribal lands before July 2020 should be retried in the right place. State convictions were overturned until the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals decided earlier this month McGirt is not retroactive.

“From the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals ruling, we know the floodgates have been closed for now, but it remains to be seen whether the Supreme Court will overturn this ruling and reaffirm that it has retroactive impact.” , Shores said. noted.

Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor has filed a brief in a separate case in the United States Supreme Court asking them to decide whether McGirt is retroactive.


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