Central Figure In SCOTUS Case Reaches Plea Deal

Federal prosecutors and the Oklahoma man who was the subject of a historic U.S. Supreme Court decision on tribal sovereignty reportedly made a plea deal with the prosecution in the days leading up to his trial.

In return for a 30-year prison term with credit for time served, Jimcy McGirt, 75, pled guilty before a federal magistrate in U.S. District Court in Muskogee on Tuesday to one count of aggravated indecent assault in Indian Country.

More than 26 years have passed since McGirt’s first conviction in a state court.

After the court conducted its presentence inquiry, U.S. Attorney Christopher Wilson said the federal judge must still approve the plea offer.

The date of the sentencing hearing is still pending.

According to defense counsel Richard O’Carroll, the idea was presented to them by the prosecution on Wednesday.

As stated in the plea agreement, the grounds for offering the bargain were McGirt’s admission of guilt, the witnesses’ ages, and the potential effects of their testimony.

Upon the judge’s acceptance of the plea, McGirt would be released, according to O’Carroll, since he has accrued sufficient so-called good time credit for his time spent in state prison.

O’Carroll said that the federal court supervising the case is aware of the plea and has not voiced any complaints, even though it was entered before a magistrate.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Jarrod Leaman, the time left on the prisoner’s sentence will be calculated by the Bureau of Prisons as part of the presentence report.

In 1997, McGirt was found guilty in a state court and given a life sentence without the possibility of parole plus two 500-year jail terms for the 1996 heinous lewd molestation of a girl aged four.

U.S. Supreme Court justices reversed the conviction and sentence in 2020, ruling that a significant portion of eastern Oklahoma—including a portion of Tulsa, the state’s second-largest city—is still a Native American reservation as Congress never disestablished it. Other tribal reservations in that region of Oklahoma are now included in that judgment by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.

Also, the appeals court ruled that the jury instructions were wrong about the contradictory comments from crucial witnesses in McGirt’s case.