Court ruling McGirt’s decision is not retrospectively a boon to his district, says DA | news


District 27 prosecutors say the recent ruling by the state appeals court that the US Supreme Court’s McGirt v Oklahoma ruling is non-retroactive is a boon to the area.

On August 12, the Oklahoma Court of Appeals ruled that state convictions cannot be overturned even if the accused or victim is Native American or if the crime took place on tribal land. Judges issued their ruling on the release of convicted murderer Clifton Parish from McGirt by a court who is a member of the Choctaw tribe.

Parish was found guilty of second degree murder by a jury in 2012. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison and did not request a Certiorari within the allowed 90-day period.

“On August 17, 2020, Mr. Parish filed a post-conviction exemption alleging that the state of Oklahoma had no material jurisdiction to convict him of murder under the McGirt v Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling,” said the court stated in its opinion.

Assistant District Judge Jana Wallace ruled that the state did not have jurisdiction and ordered the second degree murder charges to be dismissed.

Pushmataha District Attorney Mark Matloff appealed the community’s decision, stating that the Supreme Court had not indicated whether McGirt could be applied retrospectively.

“In this case, those cases were dealt with that had already been finally decided in this case,” said District Attorney Jack Thorp. “The court ruled in the ‘Matloff’ case that the defendants could not use the McGirt decision to overturn their judgments on jurisdiction if presented as part of a post-conviction legal assistance request.”

Local officials say the state still has jurisdiction over cases where both the accused and the victim are non-local, even if the crime takes place on the Cherokee Nation’s 14-county “reservation”. But prosecutors have no jurisdiction over crimes involving indigenous people from the Chickasaw, Cherokee, and Muscogee nations, including other tribes.

Thorp has expressed concern about victims of violent crime, saying the ruling brings these cases back to the point. Thorp calls the new ruling a victory for crime victims and their family members.

“That was my biggest nightmare – victims have to go through the criminal process again,” said Thorp. “We now believe that the murderers, rapists, child molesters and other violent criminals must serve the sentences that were awarded to them for committing these crimes.”

Thousands of criminal cases have been dropped by the state following a ruling by the Supreme Court. The Cherokee Nation Attorney General has filed or re-filed more than 1,300 cases in its district court since January.

“This decision has no impact on the current cases, which have been dismissed without a final decision. Justice in the current cases, dismissed by state courts and transferred to tribal and federal courts, will continue to be under the jurisdiction of those courts, ”Thorp said.

In a statement, CN attorney general Sara Hill said the ruling examines legal issues related to the status of previous criminal convictions and confirms the legal status of the Cherokee Nation reservation and the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations.

“As the Oklahoma governor rushes to convince the Supreme Court to overturn last year’s ruling and break contracts and promises, the Oklahoma courts continue to deal with the legal issues that arise,” Hill said. “The Cherokee Nation will keep working.” with law enforcement agencies at the federal, state and local levels to do the same. “

Law enforcement officials have expressed frustration, while tribal officials describe the McGirt ruling as a victory for sovereignty.

Thorp said he has prayed that past cases and judgments will be upheld since the 2020 verdict.

“This is really a blessing for our district. Some very dangerous and evil people found guilty will continue to serve the sentence they were ordered to. Thank god, ”he said.

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