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U.S. Supreme Court Grants Stay In Bosse Case, As Oklahoma Prepares Petition To Revisit 'McGirt v. Oklahoma'

The Supreme Court
Evan Vucci
The Supreme Court

On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a request to allow Oklahoma to retain custody of death row inmate Shaun Michael Bosse while the court considers whether to clarify who has jurisdiction over certain crimes on Indian land, following last year's landmark McGirt v. Oklahoma decision.

A March ruling by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals in Bosse's case said that the Chickasaw Nation was never disestablished. That ruling also said the state lacked jurisdiction to try the case because Bosse's crime was committed on the Chickasaw Nation reservation and his victims were Chickasaw.

Bosse, who is not a Native American, was sentenced to death in 2012 for the murder of Katrina Griffin and her two children in McClain County.

The now-embattled Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter asked the high court for the stay, arguing that the McGirt v. Oklahoma decision has created jurisdictional confusion. He wanted the court to provide more clarity on who has criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians when they commit crimes on the reservation.

In a brief one paragraph filing, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to Hunter's request and said the convicted murderer will remain in Oklahoma state custody, not federal custody. The state now has until Labor Day to file a petition to the Supreme Court.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals initially granted the stay in mid-April, giving the state 45 days to file a petition to the Supreme Court.

The Chickasaw Nation filed a brief in April stating it was troubled by the "bombastic arguments and unhelpful rhetoric coming out of the Governor's office." Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt's office has claimed that the new makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court gives Oklahoma a chance to reverse the McGirt ruling that affirmed tribal jurisdiction in such cases.

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Allison Herrera is a radio and print journalist who's worked for PRX's The World, Colorado Public Radio as the climate and environment editor and as a freelance reporter for High Country News’ Indigenous Affairs desk.
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