Hundreds Of Criminal Charges Dismissed In Tulsa County Following McGirt Ruling

Friday, August 21st 2020, 4:45 pm
By: Mallory Thomas

TULSA, Okla. -

Hundreds of criminal charges were dismissed in Tulsa County on Friday due to the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on McGirt v. Oklahoma.

More than 80 people no longer have charges against them, including murder, rape, robbery, and domestic assault cases. Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said this is just the tip of the iceberg. 

"Some people may be walking out of courtrooms here properly facing criminal charges, at least historically, until July 9th and now we're wondering what's going to happen to that person," Kunzweiler said.

Some of the people on this list are already behind bars, but for those out on bond, the state charges are no longer hanging over them. 

"I'm very concerned that we're going to have some gaps that need to be filled quickly," said Kunzweiler.

Kunzweiler said in some of these cases, the victim has already testified and if the case doesn't get picked up, they might not get justice. He also said since the case will start from scratch, they'll have to testify all over again. 

"They have been working with DA's and victim advocates for extended periods of time we've had cases that were on the cusp of a disposition where defendants have entered guilty pleas and were ready to be sentenced,” Kunzweiler said.

Murders, rapes, and robberies all fall under the Major Crimes Act and will be handled by the U.S. Attorney's Office. For the crimes that aren't considered major crimes, Kunzweiler hopes the Creek Nation will help prosecute those so the charges don't just go away. 

"We can't handle a prosecution of case we don't have jurisdiction over so we're trying to do what the supreme court has told us to do, but somebody needs to do something and that's congress," said Kunzweiler. 

As the historic ruling addresses tribal jurisdiction, most of these cases are now expected to be re-filed in federal court.

Kunzweiler said they are hoping the Justice Department will make it possible for his office to help handle some of these cases for the U.S. Attorney's Office.