News from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
For more information please contact:
Judy Allen, Executive Director of Public Relations
580-924-8280 ext. 2249
529 N. 16th
Durant, OK 74733
TUSHKA HOMMA, Okla. (December 21, 2009) - Choctaw history was made at the December monthly Tribal Council meeting with the swearing in of four new judges to form a Court of General Jurisdiction for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The Native American court system became defunct when the Dawes commission eradicated tribal courts.
Sworn into office were Pat Phelps as Chief Appellate Judge, Mitch Leonard and Marion Fry as Appellate Judges, and Steven Parker as District Judge. The four judges will have staggered four-year terms, but their immediate terms will start at two, three or four years. The four men, two tribal members and two non-tribal members, were appointed by Chief Gregory E. Pyle and approved by the Choctaw Nation Tribal Council.
“These men are vitally interested in the success and well-being of the Choctaw Nation and its people and will be a valuable addition to the tribal court,” said Chief Pyle.
The appellate judges have been asked to create a new code system for the Choctaw Nation court. Currently, the court is using the Court of Federal Regulations (CFR) Court Rules until a new code system has been created and approved.
The new court has jurisdiction in the 10-½ counties within Choctaw Nation’s boundaries. The United States Supreme Court is the only court with jurisdiction over the Choctaw Nation Court of General Jurisdiction.
Judges David Burrage, Fredrick Bobb and Mitch Mullen preside over the current tribal court, which handles disputes for Chief Pyle and the Tribal Council, election disputes, guardianship, and divorces. With the new court, trust issues, civil disputes, probate and misdemeanor criminal cases will be able to be heard in the Court of General Jurisdiction. The appellate judges will handle disputes against the Tribal judges rulings and will also make decision on sentencing or restitution.