Judge hears first challenge of tribal and state criminal jurisdiction following landmark Supreme Court ruling

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POTTAWATOMIE COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – In the first challenge to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said much of Eastern Oklahoma is still tribal land, an Oklahoma judge is being asked to toss out a conviction for a crime that happened in Garvin County.

Attorneys for a member of the Citizen Pottawatomie Tribe are asking for the immediate release of their client because they say the crime happened on land that is Chickasaw Reservation.

“Clearly the Chickasaw Nation was one of the original five tribes,” attorney Jaye Mendros said. “Clearly this happened within the Chickasaw Nation, clearly they don’t have jurisdiction over her after the McGirt opinion came down and made that crystal clear.”

Jaye Mendros is the attorney for Clarissa Mars, who has served three years in prison for lewd acts with a minor.

Mendros says because of Oklahoma vs. McGirt, the state had no right to convict Mars.

“Her conviction is absolutely void,” Mendors told KFOR. “The sentence she’s serving on, it is an illegal sentence.”

Medors says just like the Creek Nation in the McGirt case, the Chickasaw Reservation was never disestablished. That means the case falls under federal jurisdiction, not state jurisdiction.

In court, the state did not argue jurisdiction, instead, saying Mars’ case needs to go through the appropriate appeals process.

The state’s motion was denied.

“It’s very sad and telling that the state of Oklahoma, even after the McGirt opinion came down and told them you have been wrong [that] they are continuing to try and deprive sovereign nations of their sovereignty,” Jaye said.

The judge did agree to hold off on ruling to allow the state time to appeal.

KFOR reached out to the Attorney General’s office, but they declined to comment.


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