The U.S. attorney based in Muskogee announced his plans Tuesday to resign at the end of the week.
Brian J. Kuester, top federal prosecutor for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, said in a written statement that his last day in office would be Sunday.
Kuester noted “unprecedented challenges” during his term that included the longest shutdown of the federal government in its history, a worldwide pandemic and the impact of the Supreme Court’s McGirt decision on criminal jurisdiction in eastern Oklahoma.
“I am proud of the quality and quantity of the work our office has accomplished,” Kuester said. “We have made the Eastern District a safer place to live, work, and raise a family, and protected the interests of the United States.”
Kuester said the effects of the McGirt decision, which found that the state of Oklahoma did not have criminal jurisdiction in major criminal cases involving American Indians within the boundaries of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation, have yet to be fully realized.
He said the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals is considering cases that could expand the McGirt ruling to other tribal jurisdictions.
“If that occurs, the entire Eastern District will be recognized as Indian Country, greatly expanding federal criminal jurisdiction,” Kuester said.
Kuester was nominated to the post by former President Donald Trump. As is the case with all U.S. attorney positions, President Joe Biden will nominate a replacement to fill the position, with consent of the U.S. Senate.
“I am thankful to President Trump, Senators (Jim) Inhofe and (James) Lankford, and other members of the Senate for entrusting me with this office and the sacred mission it is responsible for,” said Kuester. “As I drive away from the office for the final time I’ll do so with the utmost confidence, trust, and respect for the men and women who will continue to carry out the most vital roles in government — upholding the Constitution, the administration of justice, and protecting the fiscal interests of our great Nation.”
Oklahoma’s two other U.S. attorneys — Trent Shores in the Tulsa-based Northern District and Timothy Downing in the Oklahoma City-based Western District — have also announced their last day on the job would be Sunday.
First Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Wilson will serve as acting U.S. attorney until a replacement is named, according to Kuester, citing the Vacancies Reform Act.