Murphy ruling completely changes the face of justice in this part of Oklahoma
by Tulsa World Editorial Pages Editor Wayne Greene

Here’s a rough estimate of the potential impact of a recent ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that says Oklahoma criminal courts don’t have jurisdiction over cases involving American Indians within the Creek Nation.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, 361 inmates convicted in seven counties wholly inside the Creek Nation identify themselves as Native Americans. Another 331 self-identified Native American prisoners come from Tulsa County, which is mostly inside the Creek Nation.

Give or take a few, that’s 692 potential felons currently in prison who might have to be retried in federal court unless the appeals court ruling in the case of death row inmate Patrick Dwayne Murphy is reversed.

I’ll admit some flaws in that guestimate. Some of those inmates claiming to be American Indians might not actually be members of a tribe. That would subtract a few cases. Others may have exhausted their appeals, which could take out a few others.

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