On November 27, 2018, Partner Ian Heath Gershengorn argued Carpenter v. Murphy, a capital case before the US Supreme Court presenting the question whether the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s reservation was disestablished by the time of Oklahoma statehood. Mr. Gershengorn represents Patrick Murphy, a Creek who was convicted in Oklahoma state court of murdering another Creek and sentenced to death. The crime, however, occurred within the boundaries of the historic Creek reservation; if the reservation was not disestablished, then only the federal government, not the state, has jurisdiction to prosecute the crime. Mr. Gershengorn told the Court that the relevant statutory text shows that Congress did not disestablish the Creek reservation. The argument audio is available here, and the briefing is available here.
The argument marked Mr. Gershengorn’s first appearance before the Court since rejoining the firm in 2017 to chair the firm’s Appellate and Supreme Court Practice. Prior to rejoining the firm, he served in the Office of the Solicitor General at the US Department of Justice, first as Principal Deputy Solicitor General and then as Acting Solicitor General. He has argued before the US Supreme Court 15 times, and he frequently represents tribes and tribal interests in appellate matters.