Bosse v. State

Decision Date11 March 2021
Docket NumberNo. PCD-2019-124,PCD-2019-124
Citation484 P.3d 286
Parties Shaun Michael BOSSE, Petitioner v. STATE of Oklahoma, Respondent.
CourtUnited States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma

OPINION GRANTING POST-CONVICTION RELIEF

KUEHN, PRESIDING JUDGE:

¶1 Shaun Michael Bosse was tried by jury and convicted of three counts of First Degree Murder and one count of First Degree Arson in the District Court of McClain County, Case No. CR-2010-213. He was sentenced to death on the murder counts and to thirty-five (35) years imprisonment and a $25,000.00 fine for the arson count.

¶2 On direct appeal, this Court upheld Petitioner's convictions and sentences.1 Petitioner's first Application for Post-Conviction Relief in this Court was denied.2 Petitioner filed this Successive Application for Post-Conviction Relief on February 20, 2019. The crux of Petitioner's Application lies in his jurisdictional challenge.

¶3 In Proposition I Petitioner claims the District Court lacked jurisdiction to try him. Petitioner argues that his victims were citizens of the Chickasaw Nation, and the crime occurred within the boundaries of the Chickasaw Nation. He relies on McGirt v. Oklahoma , ––– U.S. ––––, 140 S.Ct. 2452, 207 L.Ed.2d 985 (2020) in which the United States Supreme Court reaffirms the basic law regarding federal, state and tribal jurisdiction over crimes, which is based on the location of the crimes themselves and the Indian status of the parties. The Court first determined that Congress, through treaty and statute, established a reservation for the Muscogee Creek Nation. Id ., 140 S.Ct. at 2460-62. Having established the reservation, only Congress may disestablish it. Id ., 140 S.Ct. at 2463 ; Solem v. Bartlett , 465 U.S. 463, 470, 104 S.Ct. 1161, 79 L.Ed.2d 443 (1984). Congress must clearly express its intent to disestablish a reservation, commonly with an "explicit reference to cession or other language evidencing the present and total surrender of all tribal interests." McGirt , 140 S.Ct. at 2462 (quoting Nebraska v. Parker , ––– U.S. ––––, 136 S.Ct. 1072, 1079, 194 L.Ed.2d 152 (2016) ). The Court concluded that Congress had not disestablished the Muscogee Creek Reservation. McGirt , 140 S.Ct. at 2468. Consequently, the federal and tribal governments, not the State of Oklahoma, have jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed by or against Indians on the Muscogee Creek Reservation. 18 U.S.C. §§ 1152, 1153.

¶4 The question of whether Congress has disestablished a reservation is primarily established by the language of the law — statutes and treaties — concerning relations between the United States and a tribe. McGirt , 140 S.Ct. at 2468. "There is no need to consult extratextual sources when the meaning of a statute's terms is clear. Nor may extratextual sources overcome those terms." McGirt , 140 S.Ct. at 2469. Neither historical practices, nor demographics, nor contemporary events, are useful measures of Congress's intent unless there is some ambiguity in statute or treaty language. Id . at 2468-69 ; see also Oneida Nation v. Village of Hobart , 968 F.3d 664, 675 n.4 (7th Cir. 2020) ( McGirt "establish[ed] statutory ambiguity as a threshold for any consideration of context and later history."). Thus our analysis begins, and in the case of the Chickasaw Nation, ends, with the plain language of the treaties.

¶5 McGirt itself concerns only the prosecution of crimes on the Muscogee Creek Reservation. However, its reasoning applies to every claim that the State lacks jurisdiction to prosecute a defendant under 18 U.S.C. §§ 1152, 1153. Of course, not every tribe will be found to have a reservation; nor will every reservation continue to the present. "Each tribe's treaties must be considered on their own terms...." McGirt , 140 S.Ct. at 2479. The treaties concerning the Five Tribes which were resettled in Oklahoma in the mid-1800s (the Muscogee Creek, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole) have significantly similar provisions; indeed, several of the same treaties applied to more than one of those tribes. It is in that context that we review Petitioner's claim.

¶6 On August 12, 2020, this Court remanded this case to the District Court of McClain County for an evidentiary hearing. The District Court was directed to make findings of fact and conclusions of law on two issues: (a) the victims' status as Indians; and (b) whether the crime occurred in Indian Country, within the boundaries of the Chickasaw Nation Reservation. Our Order provided that the parties could enter into written stipulations. On October 13, 2020, the District Court filed its Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law in the District Court.

Stipulations regarding victims' Indian status

¶7 The parties stipulated that all three victims of the crime, Katrina and Christian Griffin and Chasity Hammer, were members of the Chickasaw Nation. This stipulation included recognition that the Chickasaw Nation is a federally recognized tribe. The District Court concluded as a matter of law that all three victims had some Indian blood and were recognized as Indian by a tribe or the federal government. We adopt these findings and conclusions, and find that the victims in this case were members of the Chickasaw Nation.

District Court Findings of Fact

¶8 The District Court found that Congress established a reservation for the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma. The District Court found these facts:

(1) The Indian Removal Act of 1830 authorized the federal government to negotiate with Native American tribes for their removal to territory west of the Mississippi River in exchange for the tribes' ancestral lands. Indian Removal Act of 1830, § 3, 4 Stat. 411, 412.
(2) The 1830 Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek (1830 Treaty) granted citizens of the Choctaw Nation and their descendants specific land in fee simple, "while they shall exist as a nation and live on it," in exchange for cession of the Choctaw Nation lands east of the Mississippi River. Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, art. 2, Sept. 27, 1830, 7 Stat 333. The Treaty provided that any territory or state should have neither the right to pass laws governing the Choctaw Nation nor embrace any part of the land granted the Choctaw Nation by the treaty. Id . art. 4. The land boundaries were:
[B]eginning near Fort Smith where the Arkansas boundary crosses the Arkansas River, running thence to the source of the Canadian fork; if in the limits of the United States, or to those limits; thence due south to Red River, and down Red River to the west boundary of the Territory of Arkansas; thence north along that line to the beginning.
Id . art. 2.
(3) The 1837 Treaty of Doaksville (1837 Treaty) granted the Chickasaw Nation a district within the boundaries of the 1830 Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, to be held by the Chickasaw Nation on the same terms as were granted to the Choctaw Nation. 1837 Treaty of Doaksville, art. 1, Jan. 17, 1837, 11 Stat 573.
(4) Congress modified the western boundary of the Chickasaw Nation in the 1855 Treaty of Washington (1855 Treaty), pledging to "forever secure and guarantee" the land to those tribes, and reserving them from sale without both tribes' consent. 1855 Treaty of Washington with the Choctaw and the Chickasaw, art. 1, 2, June 22, 1855, 11 Stat. 611. This Treaty also reaffirmed the Chickasaw Nation's right of self-government. Id . art. 7.
(5) In 1866, the United States entered into the 1866 Treaty of Washington (1866 Treaty), which reaffirmed both the boundaries of the Chickasaw Nation and its right to self-governance. 1866 Treaty of Washington with the Chickasaw and Choctaw, art. 10, Apr. 28, 1866, 14 Stat. 699.
(6) The parties stipulated that the location of the crime, 15634 212th St., Purcell, OK, is within the boundaries of the Chickasaw Nation set forth in the 1855 and 1866 Treaties.
(7) The property at which the crime occurred was transferred directly in 1905 from the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations to George Roberts, in a Homestead Patent. Title may be traced directly to the Reservation lands granted the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations, and subsequently allotted to individuals, and was never owned by the State of Oklahoma.
(8) The Chickasaw Nation is a federally recognized Indian tribe, exercising sovereign authority under a constitution approved by the United States Secretary of the Interior.
(9) No evidence before the District Court showed that the treaties were formally nullified or modified in any way to reduce or cede Chickasaw lands to the United States or to any other state or territory.
(10) The parties stipulated that if the District Court determined the treaties established a reservation, and if the District Court concluded that Congress never explicitly erased the boundaries and disestablished the reservation, then the crime occurred within Indian Country as defined by 18 U.S.C. § 1151(a).
District Court Conclusions of Law

¶9 The District Court first found, and this Court agrees, that the absence of the word "reservation" in the 1855 and 1866 Treaties is not dispositive. McGirt , 140 S.Ct. at 2461. The court emphasized the language in the 1830 Treaty that granted the land "in fee simple to them and their descendants, to inure to them while they shall exist as a nation." 1830 Treaty, art. 2. The 1830 Treaty secured rights of self-government and jurisdiction over all persons and property with Treaty territory, promising that no state should interfere with the rights granted under the Treaty. Id . art. 4. That treaty applies to the Chickasaw Nation under the 1837 Treaty of Doaksville, which guaranteed the Chickasaw Nation the same privileges, rights of homeland ownership and occupancy granted the Choctaw Nation by the 1830 Treaty. 1837 Treaty, art.1. In the 1855 Treaty, the United States promised to "forever secure and guarantee" specific lands to the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations, and reaffirmed those tribes' rights to self-government and full jurisdiction over persons and property within their limits. 1855 Treaty arts. 1,...

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