Will “Bosse” be the next landmark “Indian Country” Supreme Court decision?

Collaborator: Brittany Harlow
Published: 04/10/2021, 1:37 PM
Edited: 04/10/2021, 1:44 PM
(MCCLAIN COUNTY, Okla.) It will if Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter has anything to do with it. The McGirt ruling has upset jurisdictional procedure in Oklahoma since last July, when the Supreme Court ruled the state had no jurisdiction to prosecute American Indian defendants for crimes committed on tribal land, because Congress had never disestablished the tribes’ reservations. But one of the most prominent gray areas the decision has brought to light is, does this exclusivity extend to non-Indian defendants as well? That’s at the heart of the Bosse case. Shaun Bosse was sentenced to death in 2016 for killing a Chickasaw woman and her two kids. In previous stories, we told you Bosse successfully appealed his sentence in the Oklahoma Criminal Court of Appeals citing McGirt earlier this year. Link to story: https://app.verifiednews.network/articles/share/1690 Why would Bosse want to be prosecuted by the federal government instead of the State of Oklahoma? For one, the Chickasaw Nation doesn’t allow the feds to sentence people to death for crimes committed on their land. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals also mandated a 20-day stay in which Bosse would remain in state custody. On the last day of that stay, Hunter filed two motions: one for a rehearing, and one for further stay of the mandate. Bosse’s legal team objected to both of them. Fast forward to this week, the judge denied Hunter’s rehearing request, saying once they make a decision in a post–conviction appeal, it’s final. But Hunter wasn’t finished yet. After the judge’s decision, Hunter filed a motion to recall that mandate for good cause, citing his intent to file a “certiorari petition”. What does that mean? According to the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, “parties who are not satisfied with the decision of a lower court must petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case. The primary means to petition the court for review is to ask it to grant a writ of certiorari.” Essentially, Hunter wants to see the case go all the way up to the Supreme Court, if they’ll take it. Just like McGirt. He argues federal law does not grant the feds exclusivity to prosecute non-Indian defendants of major crimes committed on tribal land, even if the victim is American Indian. Instead, Hunter contends, the Major Crimes Act only applies when the defendant is American Indian. Since Bosse is white, Hunter argues, the state did have jurisdiction to prosecute him, despite the fact that his victims were Chickasaw and the crimes were committed on tribal land. So, what happens next? Both parties will get at least one more day in court together. On Wednesday, Hunter asked the court to recall the new mandate until his certiorari petition is filed and either rejected or decided on by the Supreme Court. On Thursday, Bosse’s legal team asked the court to deny that motion. The judge responded the same day, setting the matter for oral argument on April 15. Hunter then filed an Emergency Motion to temporarily recall the mandate in the meantime. And the judge granted it on Friday. “We are pleased that Bosse is going to remain in state custody, pending this argument, and look forward to making our case next week,” Hunter told VNN. “We appreciate this opportunity from the court.” The judge said each party will have 45 minutes to argue their position this coming Thursday. Their briefs must be filed by end of day Monday.


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