What to Expect in Muscogee Creek Nation Criminal Trial
What’s going to happen if your criminal case in the Muscogee Creek Nation is headed for trial? My name is Ted Hasse. I’m an attorney practicing law in federal and tribal courts in Oklahoma. I want to talk briefly today about what it looks like for defendants who have gone through the process of initial appearance, arraignment, disposition, and then they’re moving forward from there because they haven’t come to some resolution to their case with the nation through the prosecutors at the Attorney General’s office.
Once we come to a point where it does not look like we’re headed for some sort of resolution, and 98% of cases are resolved through pre-agreement, but there still are those 2%, once we arrive at that point, and that’s usually following a disposition hearing before a judge, we will set the case for jury-sounding docket. To simplify matters, there are some cases where a defendant may decide that they would be willing to waive a jury trial and move forward with a bench trial, and then that process looks a little different.
The Jury-Sounding Docket and Process
Today, I want to talk about, however, the jury-sounding docket and process headed towards jury trials. At least now, at this point, at the end of 2023, the Muscogee Creek Nation is still only having 4 quarterly jury-sounding dockets, and then jury trial periods. Now, for example, at the time of the recording of this video, the next one is coming up on November 16th, and then early December, there will be 2 jury terms set, 2 weeks during which there will be trials.
There will be the VAWA and the non-VAWA. The VAWA are Violence Against Women Act cases. Those are usually, well, those are almost always domestic violence cases, but trials being set on that docket are being set separately because there is a significant possibility that the defendant in that case is non-Native American because of special criminal jurisdiction that has been granted to tribal nations through reauthorizations of the Violence Against Women Act by Congress.
Throughout the years, there’s been reauthorizations. There’s been expansion of this special jurisdiction. It’s an unusual circumstance that non-Native Americans, non-Indians will end up in tribal court, but it happens, and then there are special rights that those defendants have that we have to respect, including their right to a jury of their peers. It has to be a jury that includes the full community, and thus we have a jury term that is specifically for them. Then we have another week for kind of everything else in Muskogee Creek Nation.
Priority for Defendants in Custody and Resolutions
But what you can expect is that if you are in custody, you will be getting priority for those slots, those opportunities for the trial. People who are out of custody go to the back of the line. However, as of the time of this recording, very few of these cases are ending up at trial. So it is entirely possible for somebody to end up in the process of initial appearance arraignment and then find themselves on the jury-sounding docket in the same quarter and going forward, and then even being 13th on the list, finding themselves teed up in front of a jury, because so many of these will get resolved or settled right at the very end there.
Contact an Experienced Attorney for Help
If you or a loved one are facing charges in Muskogee Creek Nation, you’re going to want to find good counsel. You’re going to want to find good retained counsel that can help you navigate the process, and certainly if you are headed for trial, you can’t do that alone. If you want to get in touch with me, I can be reached at (918) 947-6552. Again, my name is Ted Hasse.