Two Large Oklahoma Tribes Applaud Dismissal of the "Hooper v. Tulsa" Case by the U.S. District Court

A federal district judge on Friday, December 15, 2023, dismissed the Hooper v. Tulsa case, stating that the city does not have jurisdiction over municipal violations committed by tribal citizens.

Judge William P. Johnson,  for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, stated in his ruling: "Tulsa no longer has jurisdiction over municipal violations committed by its Indian inhabitants."

The case involved Justin Hooper, a tribal citizen of the Choctaw Nation, who resides in the city of Tulsa, Okla. In 2018, Hooper was issued a speeding ticket by Tulsa police which resulted in a $150 fine imposed by Tulsa Municipal Criminal Court.

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In 2020, though, the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt v. Oklahoma decision ruled that a large swath of northeastern Oklahoma was still an Indian reservation, putting some court rulings into question.

Friday's ruling comes on the heels of a decision by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver that reversed a district court’s ruling on the case on June 28, 2023.

On Friday, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr. issued a statement posted to the Cherokee Nation Facebook page.

"This summer, the 10th Circuit's Hooper v. City of Tulsa ruling upheld settled federal law, reaffirming that states and municipalities do not have criminal jurisdiction over tribal citizens on tribal land. The decision rejected to upend these legal principles by turning to defunct, territorial provisions of the Curtis Act. With this case now dismissed, the Cherokee Nation continues to support collaborative approaches on public safety that respect rather than attack tribal sovereignty," Hoskin said in the Facebook post.

Muscogee Nation Principal Chief David W. Hill said in a statement:

"We applaud the decision of the court to uphold the law and dismiss this frivolous case. The parties behind these politically-driven cases are working to make our state less safe. The McGirt decision means more police, courts, and prosecutors working to keep our communities peaceful. Oklahomans deserve that. That is why we have been asking Congress to pass legislation to fully empower tribes to prosecute anyone who violates the law on our reservations, and to enhance the ability of the tribes to broaden their law enforcement capabilities within the reservations for all Oklahomans.”

About the Author: "Levi \"Calm Before the Storm\" Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. Rickert was awarded Best Column 2021 Native Media Award for the print\/online category by the Native American Journalists Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association. He can be reached at"