The Aggressive Approach to Seizures and Forfeitures
What do you need to know about seizures and forfeitures in the Muscogee Creek Nation? My name is Ted Hasse. I practice in federal and tribal courts in Oklahoma.
As of late 2023, Muscogee Creek Nation’s attorney general’s office, their prosecutors, have decided to aggressively go after defendants’ personal property and have dozens of cases lined up, having already seized cars and all kinds of other stuff, and are now going through the civil process through their own court to finalize and complete forfeitures on this property.
What’s important to know is that this attorney general’s office for the nation is moving more aggressively towards forfeitures than anything I’ve heard of across the nation.
The Impact on Defendants
Right now, for example, I have a defendant who was simple possession, only possession of a personal amount. Light Horse Police interrogated them, asked them if they had driven in their car with any narcotics. The defendant admitted that she had driven to Tulsa to purchase $100 with fentanyl, and Light Horse Police says, we are seizing your vehicle.
Now, normally these kind of bullying tactics, once it gets to the prosecutors, it’s between the lawyers, it gets worked out. At this point, stunningly, the nation has decided in this defendant’s case, and I understand in many other cases, that they’re going to take these cars and they’re going to keep them on just a straight personal possession charge. It’s extraordinary. It’s like nothing else I’ve ever seen.
What Native Americans Need to Know
What you need to know is if you’re Native American, no matter what tribal nation, and you’re within the boundaries of the Muscogee Creek Nation, if you have marijuana and you don’t have an OMMA license, or you have any other illegal drug, the position of the Attorney General’s office at this point is that they can take your car. We’re going to test that. We’re going to fight that. Hopefully, we’re going to get good results for defendants going forward, but I would certainly want to know if I were, for example, a marijuana user who was not medically licensed, that Light Horse Police is looking to take your car. That’s just what’s happening. It’s hard for me to believe that they’re going to ultimately succeed, but they’re filing these cases, and we’re going to see how these work out.
I’m working on one case now, the first case of a series of dozens of these forfeiture cases they’re bringing on their seized property. It looks like what they’re trying to do is to turn these seizures into a profit center, but they’re doing it just beyond aggressively.
If you’ve had a seizure through the Muscogee Cree Nation and you’re facing a forfeiture action, I really want to hear from you. I think we need to get defendants together. I think this is, hopefully, I would like to hear from other folks who are going through this process so we can follow their cases, and maybe we can pool resources in a way that we can get better results together. Also, sharing with regard to legal developments and what strategies are working to fight what is truly an unjust process at this point.
Again, my name is Ted Hasse, and I can be reached at (918) 947-6552. Let’s join forces and protect our rights.