State, local, tribal leaders meet for McGirt decision discussion

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SEMINOLE COUNTY, Okla (KFOR) – This week, state leaders including Seminole Nation Chief Greg Chilcoat, District 22’s District Attorney Paul B. Smith and Attorney General Mike Hunter met for discussions regarding the McGirt decision and how they will move forward with cases, both past and present, involving Native Americans on tribal land.

KFOR was not able to sit in on that meeting at the Seminole County Courthouse, however, we did speak with DA Smith afterward about the conversation inside the courtroom.

“There were a lot of discussions about the practicalities of how to handle what may be forthcoming, depending on certain court rulings and how we handle who does certain things in different jurisdictional settings that might come up,” said Smith.

Smith said there was also discussion about potential outcomes if tribal courts would be responsible for those cases.

“The increased workload on perhaps the tribes, the tribal police, the federal government, the FBI and Bureau of Indian Affairs,” said Smith.

Smith said if jurisdiction is ruled to be to the tribal courts, cases current and from the past will need to be revisited.

“In my district alone, the number’s growing, but as of our last count of those that we knew, it’s impacting over 101 cases,” said Smith.

District Attorney Paul B. Smith discussing the McGirt decision with state and tribal leaders. (Photo: KFOR)

The retrials could potentially impact convictions, as the prior trials would become obsolete, as if they never happened.

“I think the tribes and the state actors, in particular General Hunter’s office, are going to remain vigilant in trying to work among the various players and parties to get a resolution,” said Smith. “And short of a resolution, I think we’ll probably have it decided for us, in some respects, by the courts, perhaps even by the end of the year.”

Smith said future meetings were also discussed, but no specific dates and times were decided upon.

Senators Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and James Lankford (R-OK) and Representatives Frank Lucas (OK-03), Tom Cole (OK-04), Markwayne Mullin (OK-02), Kevin Hern (OK-O1) and Kendra Horn (OK-05) released this joint congressional delegation statement regarding the ongoing negotiation between Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter and Tribal Nations on a proposal to Congress following the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in McGirt v. Oklahoma:

“Following the McGirt decision, we appreciate the essential input and recommendations of Tribal Nations and the Oklahoma Attorney General on how all Oklahomans can cooperate together in the days ahead. Many legal questions remain that will require clarifying legislation. We look forward to working with the Tribal Nations, the state, and all stakeholders, to develop a legislative framework that honors tribal sovereignty and gives consistency and predictability to all those living and working in Oklahoma. While there are valid questions and concerns that have caused confusion for individuals, business, and law enforcement, we expect federal legislation to provide greater clarity for everyone. We all want and expect our state to be safe and prosperous. Working together as neighbors, we will accomplish this enormous task together.”

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