TULSA, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation is updating its criminal code and getting more resources to build up its legal system after the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark ruling in the McGirt case.
“This affects the day to day lives of people whether they’re tribal citizens or not," said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr.
Cherokee Nation is also working to make its laws more consistent with Oklahoma laws. Chief Hoskin said some of the biggest changes include better protections for victims of domestic abuse. For example, the code now makes it a felony to commit domestic abuse against a pregnant woman.
Chief Hoskin said these updates are about making the justice system better.
"If you’re a victim of violence, you want to know that there’s a criminal justice system that will hold the perpetrator accountable," Chief Hoskin said. "If you’re a defendant in a system in this country and in Cherokee Nation, you deserve to have a fair system of justice that you are subject to.”
The tribe is also allocating $10 million in additional spending on law enforcement, prosecution, and for the tribal courts.
“We have a little bit of time to find the resources and commit them to things like prosecutors, more marshals for our marshal service," Chief Hoskin said. "Our court system, that includes judges.”
Chief Hoskin said that money will also go toward things like maintaining contracts with jails. Even though the initial proposal is $10 million, he thinks they’ll eventually need up to $35 million.
A big effect of the McGirt ruling is state cases on tribal land are now called into question over jurisdiction. According to Cherokee Nation, other updates made ensure cases dismissed by state courts because of McGirt can be refiled in Cherokee Nation's courts.
Chief Hoskin said they're working with other law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to communicate how those cases go forward.
“When it comes time for these cases, a specific case let’s say, where someone is released from the state’s system, we want to be able to be talking," Chief Hoskin said. "We want to be on the phone with the district attorney. We want to be able to be on the phone with the state attorney general. We want to be able to talk to law enforcement about these cases.”
The spending increase will be considered by the full tribal council next month.
- First doses of COVID-19 vaccine given in Tulsa Tuesday
- DOWNLOAD the 2 Works for You app for alerts
- Why you still need to be cautious despite COVID-19 vaccine
- FOLLOW 2 Works for You on Facebook
- Nursing homes prepare for COVID-19 vaccine distribution
Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere --