|Opinion:||Milne v. Hudson, 2022 OK 84|
|Date Decided:||October 25, 2022|
|Trial Court:||McIntosh County; Judge Bridges|
|Route to this Court:||Appeal of trial court’s denial of objection to civil protection order. Retained by OKSCT on its own motion.|
|Facts:||Milne applied for a civil protective order against Hudson in the District Court of McIntosh County. Milne claimed to be the victim of various incidents of domestic violence committed by Hudson. Hudson objected, claiming the district court had no jurisdiction because McIntosh County is within the boundaries of the Muscogee Reservation, Milne is a member of the Muscogee Nation and Hudson is a member of the Cherokee Nation. The trial court denied the objection and issued the civil protection order. Hudson appealed.|
|Standard of Review:||District court jurisdiction is a question of law, reviewed de novo.|
|Analysis:||We focus only on whether a state district court has jurisdiction to issue a civil order, protecting an Oklahoma citizen from violence, at the citizen’s request, where both parties are also citizens of sovereign Indian Nations and the violence also occurred within the boundaries of both the State of Oklahoma and the Muscogee Nation. |
McGirt’s holding, that the State cannot prosecute a crime committed by a tribal citizen, against a tribal citizen, in Indian County, cannot control the analysis or outcome of the civil-law issues raised in this case. While McGirt expanded the popular understanding of the extent of Indian County in Oklahoma, it did not itself change the applicable civil law. Tribal jurisdiction in this case is not necessarily exclusive. Where, as here, state law is implicated, governs the transaction and is invoked, and there is no infringement upon tribal self-government, there can be no barrier to state cognizance.
The Tribe and the State here have an identical goal: to provide each individual citizen a swift path to safety, with the combined weight of all the involved sovereigns ready to enforce it. Milne needed protection and she went to the nearest venue of her choice as a citizen, her county courthouse, for swift relief, and it was granted. Federal law does not prohibit that grant of relief, and equity compelled its issuance. This is that instance in which the exercise of State jurisdiction does not infringe on the interests of a tribal government but serves as an additional safeguard to those interests.
|Vote:||7-2; Kane, V.C.J., Kauger, Winchester, Edmondson, Combs (by separate writing), Rowe and Kuehn (author), J.J.; Concur in Result: Darby, C.J. (by separate writing); Concur in Judgment: Gurich, J. (by separate writing)|
|Other:||The Court noted, “[its] holding is narrow…[t]oday’s pronouncement should not be understood as a broad declaration that all litigation of Indian rights lies within the inherent constitutional cognizance of Oklahoma state courts.”|