Upcoming jury docket won't have criminal cases, due to McGirt

District Judge Doug Kirkley and Assessor Marsha Trammel listened to various opinions of reopening the courthouse during Cherokee County Commissioners meeting in May 2020.

The Cherokee Courthouse has resumed normal operations for the first time in over a year.

On April 7, an official said court is in full swing, with a heavy load of cases and an upcoming jury docket. It's business as usual, with every courtroom occupied.

Mask and temperature check requirements were lifted March 30 after officials agreed those were no longer necessary when entering the building. The courthouse had been operating with limited access since the COVID-19 virus began shutting down the entire country last year.

District Judge Doug Kirkley collaborated with courthouse officials throughout the year, as several jury trials and cases were canceled or postponed.

In December, Kirkley initially planned to hold the winter jury trials, but had to postpone those due to the McGirt ruling and concerns over COVID-19.

Jury trials will resume April 12 and should last until April 23. Officials said there will be no criminal cases on that docket. That's because of the McGirt ruling, and several trials evaporated in its wake. The U.S. Supreme Court decision declared Native tribes had never relinquished sovereignty over their reservations, thus kicking the state’s criminal cases into federal court.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Oklahoma filed 40 cases related to violent crimes in Indian Country. Of the 40 cases, four involved offenders from Cherokee County, and 13 involved offenders from Adair County.

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