Help is on the way for federal prosecutors in Oklahoma, as they see a record number of cases coming into their offices since the U.S. Supreme Court's McGirt v. Oklahoma ruling.
U.S. Attorney Trent Shores said he met with U.S. Attorney General William Barr a few weeks ago, adding that he is “very in tune with what is going on here.”
Shores said Barr directed the Department of Justice to put out a nationwide solicitation for volunteers from other US Attorney offices to help the northern and eastern districts in Oklahoma.
Shores said he confirmed Tuesday morning that people from Brooklyn, Pittsburgh, Miami and other cities will be helping out with the case load in Oklahoma.
Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler, Muscogee (Creek) Nation Assistant Attorney General Kyle Haskins, Tulsa Police Deputy Chief Eric Dalgleish and Shores said together, they are learning more about the impacts of the McGirt ruling every day.
"It's been a very complex issue that came down very quickly,” Dalgleish said.
"Because of our, I think, excellent communication and coordination on the front end, we're able to handle it right now,” Shores said.
Shores said right now his office has 22 criminal assistant U.S. attorneys. He said about 20 prosecutors and staff members from other U.S. Attorney offices are volunteering to help with what he describes as an "extraordinary" number of cases.
"They're gonna live with us, they're gonna work with us. We're gonna welcome them like Oklahomans welcome folks. And I think we'll treat them right,” Shores said.
Shores said since the ruling, 113 cases have been referred to his office, but some of them will go to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation for consideration.
Haskins said the Muscogee (Creek) Nation is about to double its number of prosecutors.
"We have three full time prosecutors at this time. Roger Wiley, our attorney general, has given us permission -- we're gonna hire three more,” Haskins said.
Tulsa Police are making changes too. One change is officers are starting to carry around a laminated card from Shores’ office, for a quick reference on what to do while working a crime that may involve a tribal member.
Shores said the U.S. Attorney's office in the Eastern District of Oklahoma is also expecting volunteers from around the country to move to Muskogee.
Shores’ office said volunteers could live in Oklahoma for about six months to a year.