Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta (U.S. Supreme Court, June 2022)

The Federal Docket

July 12, 2022

Victor Manuel Castro-Huerta was charged and convicted under Oklahoma law for offenses that he allegedly committed in “Indian country.” In McGirt v. Oklahoma, the Supreme Court had held that eastern Oklahoma is “Indian country” not subject to the jurisdiction of the state. At issue on appeal was whether the state of Oklahoma could prosecute Castro-Huerta, a non-Indian, for offenses committed against his stepdaughter, who was Indian.

Based on McGirt, defendants in Indian country argued they must be prosecuted by the federal government, which has jurisdiction over tribal matters, rather than states, Despite the Court’s holding in McGirt, however, a 5-4 majority of the Court held that the federal government and state government have concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute non-Indians for crimes committed against Indians in Indian country. The Court’s opinion effectively overruled Worcester v. Georgia, where Chief Justice Marshall held that states may not intrude on the sovereignty of tribal lands.

Certiorari to the Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma
Opinion by Kavanaugh, joined by Roberts, Thomas, Alito, and Barrett
Dissent by Gorsuch, joined by Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan

Click here to read the opinion.

Tom Church - Tom is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on criminal defense and civil trials. Tom is the author of "The Federal Docket" and is a contributor to Mercer Law Review's Annual Survey in the areas of federal sentencing guidelines and criminal law. Tom graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School where he served as a research assistant to the faculty in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights litigation. Read Tom's reviews on AVVO. Follow Tom on Linkedin.

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