Several Oklahoma district attorneys gathered on Tuesday evening to help victims and their families navigate the criminal justice system after the Supreme Court ruling placed the Green Country majority under tribal jurisdiction.
Several victims and family members of the victims have come to get their questions answered, as many of their cases have been referred to federal court as a result of the ruling, but many of their questions have gone unanswered.
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âThe way forward is to work together, not yell at each other,â said Ryan Leonard, special adviser to the governor.
Several Green Country district attorneys in counties under tribal jurisdiction say they are doing their best. They say they are working with the tribal chiefs in their area, but think more needs to be done so that they can protect everyone in their county.
“Our office recognizes McGirt and as far as we’re concerned sovereignty is established, we’ve moved past that,” Okmulgee County Prosecutor Carol Iski said.
Many district attorneys have said they are frustrated with the way some cases are handled.
“I’ll tell you what happens in every courthouse is that victims, even native victims, are victimized every day and no one is prosecuting these cases,” said the Rogers County District Attorney, Matt Ballard.
Bobbi Nickel was one of the family members who was there to get answers to questions about her brother’s case. Casey Jones and four others were killed by a drunk driver in Tulsa in 2007.
Jones’ killer Kimberly Graham was sentenced to 107 years, but his request to quash his sentence was granted. She has since been indicted by a tribal court.
âI don’t want to take anything from the tribes, I just want them to revisit this,â Nickel said.
Nickel said she just hopes Oklahoma’s elected officials and tribes can work together to find a solution so that the victims and their families do not fall through the cracks.
âI think the powers that be might feel different if it was their loved one who was run over and left maimed on the road,â Nickel said.
The forum was scheduled to run until 8 p.m., but ended about 40 minutes earlier and only a few questions were taken.
Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said if you have questions about tribal jurisdiction you can call his office at 918-596-4805.