“Today’s federal sentencing of Jimcy McGirt to life in prison with no parole marks justice served in a new era of affirmed tribal sovereignty and jurisdictional clarity,” -statement from Muscogee (Creek) Nation
MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma – A conclusion for the case that strengthened the sovereignty of tribal nations in Oklahoma has been handed down. After more than a year from the initial appeal in federal court, Seminole Nation citizen Jimcy McGirt has received his sentencing of life in prison without possibility of parole on Aug. 25.
McGirt was convicted in state court of rape and sexual assault in 1997 and was sentenced to 500 years. He challenged the case by appealing his conviction in federal court over 20 years later; claiming the state had no jurisdiction due to the fact McGirt was a Native committing his crime on Native lands.
On July 9, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Treaty of 1866, stating the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Reservation was never disestablished. This set off a chain reaction of cases seeking to be retried in federal and tribal courts and to be relinquished from the state.
McGirt was officially found guilty of two counts of Aggravated Sexual Abuse in Indian Country, and one count of Abusive Sexual Contact in Indian Country in the United States Courts for the Eastern District of Oklahoma in November 2020. The jury trial began with testimony on November 4, 2020. The victim, now in her late 20s, testified against him in court. Court concluded on November 6, 2020 with a conviction of sexually assaulting a 4-year-old child, according the press release from the Eastern District of OK Attorneys Office.
“The verdict is a result of a courageous victim who for the sake of justice was willing to once again relive the horrific acts the defendant perpetrated against her over 24 years ago. Her strength is a powerful testament to the resilience and strength of the human spirit, and a great example for us all,” United States Attorney Brian J. Kuester said. “Prosecuting decades old cases are difficult at best, but the prosecution team along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation demonstrated tenacity and commitment to the federal government’s trust responsibility in Indian Country in the Eastern District of Oklahoma.”
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation and other surrounding nations have been affected by the case since the ruling. The Nation replied to the sentencing on Aug. 25 with the following statement:
“Today’s federal sentencing of Jimcy McGirt to life in prison with no parole marks justice served in a new era of affirmed tribal sovereignty and jurisdictional clarity. We commend the diligence of the U.S. attorneys in prosecuting this case and the federal judge for preserving justice for the victims of these heinous crimes. The sentencing of Jimcy McGirt to three life sentences with no parole – and the U.S. attorney’s actions last year to ensure this man’s uninterrupted imprisonment – is a prime example of an orderly process that preserves public safety and delivers justice in the lawful, appropriate venue.”
“What is here for all to see today is an affirming reality that flies in the face of a continuing dissonance of chaos and fear-mongering from the State of Oklahoma. This case, along with others, proves that implementation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020 ruling in the landmark case that bears McGirt’s name is working for all Oklahomans.”