Inmates Challenge Convictions, Claim They Were Wrongly Prosecuted

Monday, August 3rd 2020, 9:53 pm

The Oklahoma Attorney General's Office reports nearly 200 inmates are challenging their convictions.

The appeals come after the landmark federal case of McGirt V. Oklahoma, which deals with criminal and civil jurisdiction on tribal land.

Shaun Bosse, a three-time convicted killer who currently sits on death row, claimed a federal court should have prosecuted his cases, rather than state prosecutors because his victims were Native American.

Bosse filed the appeal in July. 

Attorney General Mike Hunter has vowed to fight to uphold Bosse's sentence.

"Mr. Bosse is a non-Indian on death row for murdering a family of Chickasaws. His position is because his victims were Chickasaw Indians, and the crime occurred on historic Chickasaw lands, the state did not have jurisdiction," Hunter said. 

Hunter has also promised to fight for over 1,000 other cases in question.

While the McGirt decision applies to the Creek Nation it remains unclear if other tribal lands would later be impacted too.

Meanwhile, AG Hunter said those seeking release under McGirt will need to prove their Native American heritage.

“We are asking the court of criminal appeals to provide guidance. We are specifically asking the court to clarify how Indian status is to be proven,” he said.

The attorney general said the defendants must also prove they were on historic native land at the time of the crime.

An agreement with the tribes and the state was declared in Mid-July. However, it was soon dissolved.

Read: Attorney General, 5 Tribes Form Agreement Following Federal McGirt Ruling

The tribes are still in communication with the attorney general's office to find a permanent solution.

Hunter said he hopes for a solution that will allow local agencies to investigate cases alongside federal agencies on tribal land, while maintaining the tribe's sovereignty.

“There can be no good from tying the states hands when we are seeking to protect Native Americans by exercising criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians,” he said.

The FBI said they will handle future cases on tribal land. 

Hunter hopes soon, local law enforcement will be cross deputized to help investigate crimes occurring in federal jurisdiction.