Stitt Names Counsel to address high-court Reservation Ruling

Mike Seals - November 1, 2020 11:19 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Friday the hiring of an attorney to help his administration address a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that held much of eastern Oklahoma is an Indian reservation.

Stitt has hired Oklahoma City lawyer Ryan Leonard to serve as his special counsel for Native American affairs. Leonard’s webpage says Native American and tribal affairs are among his specialties.

The high court’s July ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma led other courts, as expected, to declare that four other tribal lands remain reservations, and now covers much of the eastern half of the state, including most of Tulsa. The 5-4 ruling meant that Oklahoma prosecutors lack the authority to pursue criminal cases against American Indian defendants in parts of Oklahoma that include most of Tulsa, the state’s second-largest city.

The ruling cast doubt on hundreds of convictions won by local prosecutors.

“The recent McGirt decision creates uncertainty and raises previously uncontemplated jurisdictional issues for the State of Oklahoma,” Stitt said Friday in a statement. “Ryan Leonard is an experienced legal advocate and will be an important part of our team as we work collaboratively with our federal, tribal and state partners to provide an environment of fairness, clarity and unity for all Oklahomans.”

 

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