May 25—The Cherokee Nation Attorney General's Office is working to determine prosecutorial options for more criminal cases that were dismissed or sent to the tribe by the state.
Several more local criminal cases were sent to Cherokee Nation in the past few days due to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of McGirt v. Oklahoma. The high court ruled Oklahoma lacks jurisdiction over crimes on tribal reservations. If both the defendant and the victim are Native, federal authorities would have jurisdiction over felony cases, and tribes over misdemeanors.
Local officials say the state would have jurisdiction over cases wherein both the defendant and victim are non-Native, even if they take place on the "reservation." State prosecutors do not have criminal jurisdiction over crimes involving Natives with the Chickasaw, Cherokee, and Muscogee nations — and perhaps others.
The CN Attorney General's Office says it has filed hundreds of cases and received several referrals for juvenile offenders since the beginning of January 2021.
Several cases sent to the CN Attorney General's Office were not dismissed as of Monday, May 24, but defendants in additional criminal cases have filed for post-conviction relief. "Post-conviction relief" is a legal term that refers to the process of challenging either the verdict or the sentence in a criminal case that has resulted in conviction.
Donald Lee Paden was charged with lewd or indecent proposals to a child under 16, and soliciting sexual conduct/communication with minor by use of technology. Paden was arrested in 2012 after an online sting by local authorities. Paden believed he was talking to a 13-year-old girl online in August 2012, but he was actually talking to an undercover sheriff's deputy. Authorities set up a meeting between Paden and what he believed to be the teenage girl when Paden began to ask for a sexual encounter. A judge ultimately dismissed the lewdness charge. Paden was given a five-year suspended sentence and ordered to spend one year in the Cherokee County Detention Center, with credit for time he had already served. He was forced to register as a sex offender.
Ricky Griggs had over 10 drug offenses where he filed for post-conviction relief: unlawful delivery of controlled drug, unlawful possession of marijuana after former conviction, endeavoring to manufacture a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute, unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia, manufacture of controlled dangerous substance/possess material with intent to manufacture, and unlawful possession of controlled drug with intent to distribute.
Mark Dobbins, who represents Dylan James Benoit, filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction for charges of driving while under the influence of drugs.
Attorneys for Anthony Hammer, who was charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance, filed for a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.
Crystal Jackson filed for a motion to dismiss due to lack of jurisdiction on her client, William Nelson Washington, who was charged with grand larceny in 2008.