Oklahomans For Criminal Justice Reform Hold Roundtable On Tribal Sovereignty Ruling

Thursday, July 29th 2021, 6:14 pm
By: Jonathan Cooper

TULSA, Oklahoma -

More than a year after the Supreme Court's landmark decision in McGirt vs. Oklahoma, some in the state are looking for answers.

Thursday afternoon, "Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform" held a roundtable discussion to talk about the implications.

The organization, which works on a wide range of justice reform initiatives, focused much of their talk on Oklahomans incarcerated right now and resources available to them.

The McGirt decision decided last year ruled Native reservations in much of eastern Oklahoma were never disestablished at statehood. This means the state of Oklahoma lacks the authority to pursue criminal cases involving Native American defendants or victims.

Since last year, thousands of state cases have been moved to federal court, and thousands of people in jail right now have had the opportunity to have their case re-filed.

Kacey Baldwin is a public defender in Tulsa County and said her office has filed 900 motions since last year for defendants who may qualify for jurisdictional changes.

"The conversation I have with all of my clients is once you file the motion your case is going to be referred to the feds or the tribes,” said Baldwin. “They may choose to file charges. They may not."

This roundtable all comes one week after new Oklahoma Attorney General John O'Connor said he would ask the Supreme Court to overturn the McGirt decision.

Governor Kevin Stitt is also suing the federal government over its interpretation of McGirt as well.