Members of the Cherokee Nation Rules Committee, at a meeting on April 28, were briefed on a local case currently before the United States Supreme Court.
During her report, Attorney General Sara Hill primarily spoke about the closing arguments in Oklahoma v. Castro Huerta.
“The case involved a single question of law, although Oklahoma originally asked the court to overturn McGirt. The court was unwilling to address that issue, but it did address this other issue whether states have the inherent power to prosecute crimes committed by non-Indians against Indians, in Indian country,” Hill said.
The Castro-Huerta case involves a man who was convicted in state court of child neglect. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals had thrown out the conviction due to jurisdictional issues related to McGirt.
Hill said the state is arguing that it has concurrent jurisdiction with the United States. She said the common rule has always been that the state has no jurisdiction in this matter.
“They can only prosecute crimes in Indian Country if they are non-Indian or non-Indian victimless crimes. Oklahoma is asking the Supreme Court to reconsider this,” Hill said.
During oral argument, the justices noted that the ruling could void promises made by Congress to the tribes. The court will deliver its judgment in the coming weeks.
Director of the CN Marshals Department, Shannon Buhl, informed the committee that there were 20 vacancies for marshals.
“In addition, we are opening special officer positions,” Buhl said. “If you can think about it, some people ask me why marshals are so expensive, why it takes so long to install one. This is because they are able to testify as case officers in the northern and eastern federal districts.
They also hold a special law enforcement commission, along with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and they must be able to testify and present cases in nearly 90 different entities.
“Our training is longer and more complex than usual. What we’ve been trying to do at the Marshal Service is develop another level of law enforcement for the tribe that’s going to be more community based, they’ll still go to CLEET and they’ll still be a certified cop, but they’ll deal with minor offenses — misdemeanors and community stuff,” Buhl said.
These special agents will then communicate with a CN marshal for large files. Buhl said the biggest complaint he receives is about the lack of marshals.
“We know that, but we have so little, we can’t. Our goal is to recruit more uniformed officers to represent the tribe and, more importantly, to represent these communities,” he said.
A law amending one of the titles of the Cherokee Code Annotated has been approved.
Wes Nofire, councilor for District 3, said the change would stagger terms by removing the policy when multiple nominations come up at the same time.
“Also, it helps to be a bit more transparent in the carryover between a new administrative office taking over,” he said.
The committee approved resolutions confirming the appointment of Barry Reynolds as a member of the board of directors of Cherokee Nation Businesses LLC.
Reynolds introduced himself to the committee and said he was delighted to have the opportunity to dedicate his time and efforts to supporting CN.
The next meeting of the Cherokee Nation Rules Committee is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, May 26 at 1 p.m. It can be viewed on the Cherokee Nation YouTube page.