Attorney General Mike Hunter comments following oral arguments in ‘McGirt v. Oklahoma’ at the U.S. Supreme Court
Published: May 11th, 2020
Attorney General Mike Hunter today (Monday, May 11) released the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the ‘McGirt v. Oklahoma’ case.
“On behalf of the state of Oklahoma, I want to thank the U.S. Supreme Court justices for the time and attention given to this important case,” Attorney General Hunter said in his statement, sent to The City Sentinel, CapitolBeatOK and other news organizations.
“Our argument was based on the fact that the Muscogee (Creek) domain was disestablished by Congress to make way for Oklahoma as a new state for all citizens, including tribal members. Jimcy McGirt was appropriately tried in state court for raping a four-year-old girl who is a member of the Seminole tribe.
“Regardless of the outcome in this case, I want to assure both tribal and non-tribal citizens, my office will work with our tribal partners to uphold our longstanding mutually beneficial relationship to benefit all Oklahomans. I remain committed to growing these partnerships to uphold our history of goodwill.
“Finally, I want to commend Oklahoma Solicitor General Mithun Mansinghani, who performed brilliantly under unprecedented circumstances. This is the first U.S. Supreme Court argument ever to be given from inside the state of Oklahoma. The countless hours of research and preparation by Mithun and the team of attorneys representing Oklahoma can never be understated. We also appreciate the broad support from groups across the state who filed briefs in favor of our argument.”
Justices are expected to rule on the case later this year.
About the case: This is the second time in two years that justices have heard arguments about whether Oklahoma has jurisdiction over tribal members in eastern Oklahoma. It centers on Oklahoma’s ability to govern the lands once given to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in what was then Indian Territory. The case has implications for state prosecution of crimes, collection of taxes and enforcement of other state laws across the eastern part of the state, including Tulsa.
In 1996, petitioner Jimcy McGirt forcibly raped his wife’s four-year-old granddaughter at their home in Broken Arrow. McGirt was convicted in state court of first-degree rape, lewd molestation and forcible sodomy. He was sentenced to 1,000 years plus life imprisonment, in part based on two prior convictions for forcible oral sodomy involving young boys. McGirt’s conviction and sentence were affirmed on appeal.
McGirt did not assert that state courts lacked jurisdiction to convict him. Nor did he raise that claim during his first 20 years of incarceration.
In 2018, McGirt sought post-conviction relief on the grounds that Oklahoma courts lacked jurisdiction over his criminal case because, he claims, he committed his crime on an Indian reservation, and he and his victim are enrolled members of the Seminole Nation.
Editor’s Note: We will follow up with additional reporting and commentary on this historic case, and the pivotal arguments presented.