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Oklahoma County Commissioner Kevin Calvey filed a petition with district court Tuesday asking for a declaratory judgment on the legality of a Board of County Commissioners’ policy passed 2-1 just the day before.

The policy forces the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority or Jail Trust to fully cooperate with requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and allow ICE officers full access to the jail. Calvey also sits on the Jail Trust, a larger and more diverse body where he has less certainty of accomplishing his goals.

The petition asks the court to rule that the Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) have the authority to command the Jail Trust to do what’s called for in the resolution.

Calvey, county resident Tom Vineyard, and the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association, a gun-rights advocacy group, filed the petition Tuesday. See the petition below.

Kevin Calvey
Kevin Calvey, District 3 Oklahoma County Commissioner, speaks to reporters after the August 14, 2020 Board of County Commissioners meeting. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

And, the filing itself has already had a dampening effect on the Jail Trust’s possible future actions.

The Trust voted to not honor ICE detainers September 21. But, the vote was vacated later in the evening when legal counsel realized that they lacked a quorum defined by the Trust’s indenture.

In response to our questions about how the Trust would proceed on the issue now that the petition has been filed, Jail Trust Chair Tricia Everest messaged, “This … changes some things as we certainly shouldn’t vote while a declaratory judgment is pending.”

Preempting the DA?

Calvey’s petition was filed the next day after Commissioner Carrie Blumert sent a request to Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater asking for an opinion on the resolution’s legality.

Blumert told Free Press that their office sent the letter Sunday and then added some modifications to another version Monday after the BoCC meeting.

The timing gives the appearance that Calvey was working as fast as he could to head off an opinion from the DA’s office. A judge’s ruling would override anything the DA would say on the matter.

The DA’s office has a recent history of delivering findings that are skeptical of the legality of honoring ICE detainers.

The Oklahoma County DA’s office delivered an opinion in November 2019 determining that ICE detainers were not warrants or legal findings and so did not provide “probable cause” for detaining someone. The opinion said the county could be liable for violating the rights of persons if the detainers were honored.

Petition

Calvey’s petition attacks the premise of the earlier DA’s opinion that an ICE detainer is not a warrant and so by itself provides no probable cause for detaining someone.

The argument Calvey makes in the petition is that entering the U.S. illegally is a “public offense under federal law” and so, is probable cause for honoring an ICE detainer.

“Therefore, issuance of an ICE detainer constitutes probable cause that the inmate for whom the ICE detainer was issued has committed a public offense, the offense of being in the US illegally….”

Calvey then argues, “A jurisdiction which refuses to honor or comply with 48-hour ICE detainers is what is popularly known as a ‘sanctuary’ jurisdiction regarding illegal aliens.”

The petition says that Oklahoma “is NOT a sanctuary state.”

However, at no point has the Jail Trust or any other entity connected to the Oklahoma County Jail ever used the term “sanctuary” for what they were doing.

The petition asks the court to make two declaratory judgements:

  • “Declaratory judgment that Oklahoma is not a ‘sanctuary state’ for purposes of honoring ICE detainers”
  • “Declaratory judgment that county policies are binding on the OCCJA.”

This is the petition:

Calvey-v.-State


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