Oklahoma Can No Longer Prosecute Any Nation Member
Video Transcribed: How will the US Supreme Court’s follow-up to the McGirt ruling impact you or your loved one? My name’s Ted Hasse. I’m a Tulsa Federal Criminal Defense Attorney practicing in federal and tribal courts in Oklahoma. The United States versus Castro-Huerta is a decision that came down in the last few weeks from the United States Supreme Court. It is a follow-up to McGirt.
The McGirt decision is just beyond the scope of this video. I’ve done other videos. And if you need to find out more about McGirt, you probably want to check out some other videos on this channel or website.
What I’m going to talk about today, though, is US v. Castro-Huerta. This decision is a follow-up to McGirt that impacts jurisdiction over non-Native Americans who allegedly commit crimes against Native Americans in Eastern Oklahoma, in Indian country.
After the McGirt ruling, jurisdiction was stripped from the state of Oklahoma for all crimes committed against Native Americans or committed by Native Americans. The state of Oklahoma could no longer prosecute any nation member. They had to be prosecuted by either the federal government in federal court on federal criminal charges or by one of the nations, whichever nation they committed the alleged defense in.
Now, since this new decision, here’s the significant change. Nothing has changed for defendants who are Native American. What has changed is that non-Native American defendants who have an alleged victim that is Native American can now be prosecuted by the state of Oklahoma again.
However, here’s the tricky part. That doesn’t mean that jurisdiction has been stripped from the tribal court or the federal government. The federal government can continue to prosecute when they want to prosecute. That’s called concurrent jurisdiction.
That means that the federal government can now prosecute non-Native Americans committing crimes against Native Americans, and the state of Oklahoma can again prosecute crimes committed by non-Native Americans against Native Americans.
And then with the tribal court, there’s a small category of crimes, which tribal courts can handle non-Native American defendants. And basically, a federal statute covers and expands coverage related to domestic violence issues.
Some years ago, Congress passed a law granting jurisdiction to nation tribes in cases of domestic violence, whereby they can prosecute a non-Native American in tribal court if the victim is Native American.
So we’re getting a lot of calls from clients, mainly pre-indictment clients who have not yet been indicted but are under federal investigation. Many hoped their case was among the thousands purportedly being handed back over from the US attorney’s offices, from federal to state prosecutors. I have at least one client who discovered that, in his case, the feds had already picked up his case and already started their investigation.
And although they could have handed it back to Tulsa County, they decided not to. He woke up to an FBI raid, and he’s now going through the process of federal prosecution. So people need to be aware that in practice, this will mean, going forward, fewer federal prosecutions.
Suppose there was already a federal prosecution or investigation in place. In that case, it may be likely that the federal prosecutors at the US attorney’s office may go forward with their charges and seek an indictment.
Suppose you have questions about how this new jurisdiction landscape could impact you or your loved one or need a Federal Criminal Defense for Eastern Oklahoma or a Northern Oklahoma Federal Defense Attorney. My name is Ted Hasse. I am a McGirt Attorney. Contact me today.