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Governor Stitt Applauds Amicus Briefs Filed in U.S. Supreme Court Supporting Oklahoma's Petition to Overturn McGirt Ruling

Friday, October 22, 2021

Governor Kevin Stitt applauded four amicus briefs that were filed in the United States Supreme Court in support of the State of Oklahoma’s petition to overturn the catastrophic McGirt ruling.

“Each of these briefs factually demonstrates the chaos created by McGirt as well as the dire consequences for all Oklahomans if the ruling is not overturned,” said Governor Stitt. “I applaud the courage of each of the groups and am grateful for their dedication to helping protect the sovereignty of the state of Oklahoma.”

The first amicus brief was filed by the cities of Tulsa and Owasso. Tulsa, the second most populous city in Oklahoma, is home to over 400,000 Oklahomans and is the largest city in the geographical area affected by McGirt. Owasso, a northern suburb of Tulsa, is home to another 38,000 Oklahomans and sits within the former territory of the Cherokee Nation.

“In sum, the result of McGirt in Tulsa and Owasso has been a significant ‘prosecution gap’ of serious crimes that the federal government has declined to prosecute. The tribes cannot fill this gap… even when the tribes can prosecute, they have proven unable to do so. Since McGirt was decided the Tulsa police department has referred at least 1,156 cases to the Muscogee and Cherokee Nations… Yet these tribes have not issued a single subpoena asking a Tulsa police office to testify in a single criminal case.”

The second amicus brief was filed by the Oklahoma District Attorneys Association, the Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association, the Association of Oklahoma Narcotic Enforcers, and 27 District Attorneys.

“McGirt has also made the job of Oklahoma law enforcement much more difficult, causing inefficiency and fear as officers attempt to navigate their new, uncertain jurisdictional boundaries. Although the tribes and federal government have “cross-commissioned” or “cross deputized” many (but hardly all) Oklahoma police officers and investigators as tribal officers and federal officials, this has not removed jurisdictional uncertainty. And cross-deputization comes with problems of its own.”

The third amicus brief was filed by Environmental Federation of Oklahoma, Inc., Oklahoma Farm Bureau Legal Foundation, the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, the Oklahoma Aggregates Association, and the Petroleum Alliance of Oklahoma.

“McGirt profoundly affects Amici and the members they represent, Oklahoma farmers, ranchers, energy, oil and gas developers and transporters, aggregate producers, and business owners, who live, work, own businesses in, and have helped develop, Oklahoma. While acknowledging the unique histories of the Five Tribes and the former Oklahoma Indian Territory, none of Amici or their members have ever believed the private, fee lands on which they lived, worked, or built farms or businesses lay within the boundaries of a current Native American reservation—until this Court’s opinion in McGirt. Unless reversed, McGirt’s impact on Amici’s jurisdictional expectations, both criminal and civil, will be profoundly unsettled.”

The fourth amicus brief was filed by Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Nebraska, as states have a sovereign interest in prosecuting crimes committed within their borders.

“One attribute of state sovereignty is the States’ authority to prosecute non-Indians who commit alleged criminal offenses against Indians in the Indian country that lies within their borders. The decision below incorrectly held that the General Crimes Act deprives them of that authority. Only by reversing that decision and recognizing States’ inherent criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians in Indian country can States be empowered to combat the violent victimization of Indians on tribal lands. Otherwise, the acute problem of non-Indians perpetrating crimes against Indians on tribal lands will only worsen.”


On September 17, the State of Oklahoma filed a petition for certiorari in the case of child abuser Victor Manuel Castro-Huerta, asking the Court to reconsider the McGirt decision or narrow it so that it does not cover criminals like Castro-Huerta, who is a non-Indian that victimized an Indian.

The criminal at issue in this case, Castro-Huerta, was convicted in state court and sentenced to 35 years imprisonment, but the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals threw out that conviction because of its interpretation of the McGirt decision.

In 2015, Castro-Huerta so severely neglected his five-year-old stepdaughter, who has cerebral palsy and is legally blind, that she was rushed to the emergency room. She was admitted in critical condition, dehydrated, emaciated, and covered in lice and excrement, and she weighed only nineteen pounds. Investigators who visited Castro-Huerta’s home later discovered that her crib was filled with bedbugs and cockroaches and contained a single, dry sippy cup, the top of which was chewed through.

Castro-Huerta later admitted to officers that, while he knew his step-daughter required five bottles of baby formula a day, he had provided her between only twelve and eighteen bottles the previous month. Castro-Huerta is not a Native American, but his step-daughter victim is a member of a tribe headquartered in North Carolina.

Last Modified on Oct 22, 2021
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