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The Associated Press

State to appeal judge’s ruling on cockfight ban

TULSA -- A series of similar lawsuits filed in various state district courts could soon be combined into one case to decide the fate of Oklahoma's cockfighting ban.

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson plans to file an appeal of a judge's ruling in the first case that challenged the ban and will ask the Oklahoma Supreme Court to stay all the other cases, spokesman Charlie Price said.

The ban on cockfighting was approved by voters on Nov. 5 and took effect Nov. 8.

The ban carries penalties of up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $25,000. It can be enforced in any county where a restraining order or temporary injunction has not been issued.

The law's first challenge resulted in a temporary restraining order from Judge Willard Driesel on Nov. 8.

The order, which Driesel later replaced with a preliminary injunction, prevented the enforcement of the ban in a three-county district covered by his court in southeastern Oklahoma.

Nearly identical challenges of the cockfighting ban has put enforcement on hold in 12 more counties.

The lawsuits, filed mainly by Tulsa attorney Larry Oliver, challenge the ban on constitutional grounds and have been filed in counties where cockfighting has strong support.

The similarities in the lawsuits will be discussed when an appeal of Driesel's decision is filed, Price said.

Meanwhile, members of a Kiowa tribal association hoping to allow cockfighting on Indian lands may be out of luck.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Neal Leader recently sent a letter outlining how the cockfighting ban would apply in Indian Country.

Two federal laws, the Federal Enclaves Act and the Assimilative Crimes Act, would allow the anti-cockfighting law to be applied throughout Indian Country in Oklahoma, according to Leader's letter.

People who violate the laws, even on Indian land, could be punished under applicable state and federal laws.

The Kiowa Association for the Preservation of Cultural and Rural Lifestyles informed the attorney general's office earlier of its intent to start licensing cockfighters.

The Lawton-based association, owned and founded by Michael Turner, would sell licenses to cockfighters and allow cockfighting on Kiowa territory.