The federal government has released indictments of nearly a dozen residents of Oklahoma, residents of land that used to all be Indian country, on charges ranging up to and including murder – to replace state cases that were dismissed.
The Department of Justice said on Friday that the federal counts were needed because of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma.
That case, in which a member of the Seminole tribe was convicted and sentenced for abusing a four-year-old girl, was dismissed because the Supreme Court decided 5-4 that for the purposes of the Major Crimes Act, Congress failed to disestablish the region's Indian reservations, so that lands remained Indian country, where state laws did not apply.
There was concern in the court that the federal courts would need to take up the load of about 8,000 felonies that happen annually on those lands, because it is the federal judicial system that would have jurisdiction there, not state system.
There also was concern over how it would impact businesses operating under tribal rules.
Now the federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Oklahoma has named a long list of defendants in a series of separate indictments.
The indictments named:
Gregory Gamblin on a charge of murder.
Gunnar Mathew Hemingway on a charge of murder, as well as using, carrying, and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
Cody Nash James on a charge of murder.
Brian Mack on a charge of murder.
Robert Mitchell on a charge of murder.
Clifton Parish on charges of murder and kidnapping.
Jeffrey Pierce on a charge of murder.
Tyas Short on a charge of second degree murder in Indian Country and another of using, carrying, and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
Devin Sizemore on charges of murder, second-degree murder, manslaughter and child abuse.
John Duncan Stubbs on charges of murder and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.
And Johnson Wisdom on a charge of murder in Indian Country.
The charges came from a three-day grand jury session assembled by the Justice Department's Organized Crime and Gang Section along with the U.S. Attorney's office.
The U.S. Supreme Court decision had found the historical boundaries of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation were never disestablished by Congress and therefore that the State of Oklahoma did not have jurisdiction to prosecute Jimcy McGirt for first degree rape and other state crimes.
Then the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that the Cherokee reservation and the Chickasaw reservation were likewise never disestablished. Similar rulings affecting the Seminole and Choctaw reservations were issued by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.
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