Jessica McBride/Managing Editor
Oklahoma entities file briefs in support of State
WASHINGTON — Three amicus briefs were filed March 9 with the U.S. Supreme Court for the Royal v. Murphy case, which could define what is Indian Country and what is considered Oklahoma.
The landmark case known as Royal v. Murphy will decide what court has the authority to try Muscogee (Creek) citizen Patrick Murphy for committing murder within the Muscogee (Creek) Nation jurisdiction, but not on MCN-owned or trust land.
Previously, MCN had jurisdiction over land in trust or restricted status (original allotments), and other parcels within the boundaries were under the jurisdiction of the State of Oklahoma.
In the latter half of 2017, the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Congress had not disestablished the MCN reservation created by an 1866 treaty, and therefore the State of Oklahoma lacked the jurisdiction to try and sentence Murphy for murder because he is a Muscogee (Creek) citizen and the crime occurred in Indian Country.
‘The decision… threatens to disrupt the distribution of governmental authority in nearly half of Oklahoma,’ attorneys state in brief submitted on behalf of the United States.
It is the opinion of the U.S. Department of Justice that the Tenth Circuit Court’s ruling is incorrect and the land area in question is not a reservation.
‘Contrary to the court’s view, Congress disestablished the Creek Nation’s historic territory when, in preparation for and granting Oklahoma statehood, it broke up and allotted the Creek Nation’s lands, displaced tribal jurisdiction, and provided for application of state law and state jurisdiction,’ the brief states.
A brief for several entities including the State Chamber of Oklahoma and Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association is written in support of the State of Oklahoma and agrees with the DOJ that Congress disestablished the MCN reservation.
‘The decision opens the proverbial can of worms regarding civil jurisdiction over Amici (entities listed in brief) and other, similarly situated, nonmembers and businesses in Eastern Oklahoma,’ the brief states.
A brief submitted on behalf of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association also requests a reversal of the appellate court’s decision.
‘In short, the Tenth Circuit’s erroneous decision, which ignored both history and precedent to overturn the decision of the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals—in the context of deferential AEDPA (Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996) review—cries out for correction,’ the brief states.
Murphy’s counsel has until April 9 to file the brief in opposition to Oklahoma’s petition to the Supreme Court.
A stay has been issued in the case, pending Oklahoma’s appeal to the Supreme Court, which means Native American offenders with similar cases are waiting for the potential to have their cases retried in tribal or federal court.
According to a Supreme Court media guide, the court receives approximately 7,000-8,000 petitions each term to hear cases. Around 80 of them are granted.
The guide states the court usually responds to petitions within six weeks.
Mvskoke Media will continue to follow the case as it develops.3 comments