Articles Posted in Native American Law

by
The Ninth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for two counts of fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer in violation of Oregon Revised Statutes 811.540(1), as assimilated by 18 U.S.C. 13, the Assimilative Crimes Act (ACA), and 18 U.S.C. 1152, the Indian Country Crimes Act (ICCA). Defendant argued that the federal government lacked jurisdiction to prosecute him for his violation of state law in Indian country because the ACA does not apply to Indian country. The panel affirmed the conviction and held that the ACA applies to Indian country, based on the panel's own precedent and through the operation of 18 U.S.C. 7 and 1152. Furthermore, neither the ICCA nor the Major Crimes Act precluded the federal government from exercising its jurisdiction to prosecute defendant for his violations of section 811.540(1) under the ACA. Accordingly, the court upheld the district court's denial of defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. View "United States v. Smith" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff's petition for panel rehearing was granted an this superseding opinion was filed. This case related to tort claims brought by the tribe against a nonmember employed by the tribe. At issue was whether the tribal court has jurisdiction to adjudicate tribal claims against its nonmember employee, where the tribe's personnel policies and procedures manual regulated the nonmember's conduct at issue and provided that the tribal council would address violations by the nonmember during the course of her employment, and the tribal court and tribal judicial code were established and enacted after the nonmember left her employment with the tribe. The Ninth Circuit held that, under the circumstances presented here, the tribe has authority to regulate the nonmember employee's conduct at issue pursuant to its inherent power to exclude nonmembers from tribal lands. The panel also held that, in the alternative, the tribe has regulatory authority over the nonmember employee's conduct under both exceptions under Montana v. United States, 450 U.S. 544 (1981). Therefore, given the existence of regulatory authority, the sovereign interests at stake, and the congressional interest in promoting tribal self-government, the panel held that the tribal court had jurisdiction over the tribe's claims. View "Knighton v. Cedarville Rancheria of Northern Paiute Indians" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order granting summary judgment to the state in an action brought by Indian tribes under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). California permits certain forms of class III gaming under an effective tribal-state gaming compact. At issue was the termination provision in a 1999 compact. The panel held that the plain language of the IGRA permits tribes and states to negotiate the duration of a compact governing the conduct of a tribe's class III gaming activities. Therefore, the panel held that the termination provision in the compact at issue was not void under the IGRA. View "Chemehuevi Indian Tribe v. Newsom" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendant's motion to suppress evidence obtained when a tribal officer twice searched defendant's truck. The officer initially pulled up behind the truck, which was parked on the side of the highway, to see if defendant and his young child needed assistance. The panel could not agree that the officer appropriately determined that defendant was a non-Indian just by looking at him. The panel held that the officer acted outside of his jurisdiction as a tribal officer when he detained defendant, a non-Indian, and searched his vehicle without first making any attempt to determine whether defendant was in fact an Indian. The panel held that the exclusionary rule applies in federal court prosecutions to evidence obtained in violation of the Indian Civil Rights Act's (ICRA) Fourth Amendment counterpart. The panel also held that a tribal officer does not necessarily conduct an unreasonable search or seizure for ICRA purposes when he acts beyond his tribal jurisdiction. However, tribal authority consideration is highly pertinent to determining whether a search or seizure is unreasonable under the ICRA. In this case, the officer violated the ICRA Fourth Amendment analogue by seizing defendant, a non-Indian, while operating outside the Crow Tribe's jurisdiction. View "United States v. Cooley" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of an action challenging a tribal court's subject matter jurisdiction over tort claims brought by the tribe against a nonmember employee. The panel previously held that a tribe's inherent sovereign power to exclude nonmembers from tribal land is an independent source of regulatory power over nonmember conduct on tribal land. In this case, the panel held that a tribe's regulatory power over nonmembers on tribal land does not solely derive from an Indian tribe’s exclusionary power, but also derives separately from its inherent sovereign power to protect self government and control internal relations. The panel held that the tribal court has jurisdiction over the tribe's claim under the circumstances presented here, given the existence of regulatory authority, the sovereign interests at stake, and the congressional interest in promoting tribal self-government. The panel held that the tribe has authority to regulate the nonmember employee's conduct at issue pursuant to its inherent power to exclude nonmembers from tribal lands, and in the alternative, the tribe has regulatory authority over the nonmember employee's conduct under both Montana exceptions. View "Knighton v. Cedarville Rancheria of Northern Paiute Indians" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the government defendants, in an action brought by the Community challenging Interior's determination that it is ineligible for gaming for purposes of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). The panel held that the agency's determination was correct, because the IGRA clearly and unambiguously requires federal recognition by the Secretary of the Department of the Interior before a tribe may qualify to participate in Indian gaming. The panel also held that the Frank's Landing Act did not authorize the Community to engage in class II gaming. View "Frank's Landing Indian Community v. National Indian Gaming Commission" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit against a police officer and a towing company after the officer seized plaintiff's truck on the Lummi reservation. Plaintiff was stopped by Lummi police and marijuana was found in his truck. The officer cited a violation of tribal drug laws and issued a notice of forfeiture and took possession of the truck. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment against plaintiff because plaintiff failed to exhaust his tribal remedies against the towing company. Applying principles of comity, the panel held that the Lummi Tribal Court must be given the opportunity to first address the question of whether tribal jurisdiction exists. The panel held that the district court properly substituted the United States as a party for the tribal police officer pursuant to the Westfall Act, and that plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies against the United States pursuant to the two-step test in Shirk v. U.S. ex rel. Dep't of Interior, 773 F.3d 999, 1006 (9th Cir. 2014), which determined whether a tribal employee could be deemed a federal Bureau of Indian Affairs employee for the purposes of Federal Tort Claims Act liability. Finally, the panel vacated the district court's dismissal and remanded with instructions to dismiss the action without prejudice to refiling after plaintiff has exhausted the appropriate remedies. View "Wilson v. Horton's Towing" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review of the Department's decision ordering the Tribe to provide relief to a member that was removed from the Tribe's governing body in retaliation for his whistleblowing. The member informed the Department that some members of the Tribe's governing body (the Business Committee) were misusing federal stimulus funds. The panel held that the member was an employee and thus eligible for whistleblower protection under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; the Department's order did not infringe on the Tribe's sovereignty and powers of self-governance; the Tribe voluntarily agreed to federal oversight when it accepted the stimulus funds; the Tribe did not have a due process right to a hearing with cross-examination before the Department reached its conclusion; although the Department did commit a procedural error where the Tribe did not have access to the Inspector General's report until the Department issued its preliminary decision, the error was harmless; and the Department did not err in finding that the removal of St. Marks was retaliatory. Finally, the court rejected the Tribe's argument regarding the monetary reward because it was raised for the first time on appeal. View "Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy's Reservation v. USDOI" on Justia Law

by
Section 511(a) of the Veterans' Judicial Review Act barred the Community's action against the VA for failing to reimburse the Community for the care it provided to veterans at tribal facilities. In this case, the Community sought review of the VA's determination that two provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act did not require the VA to reimburse the Community absent a sharing agreement. The panel held that such a determination fell under the jurisdictional bar of section 511(a) because it was plainly a question of law that affected the provision of benefits by the Secretary of the VA to veterans, and the relief requested could clearly affect the provision of benefits. The panel also held that the presumption in Montana v. Blackfeet Tribe of Indians, 471 U.S. 759, 766 (1985), did not apply to section 511(a). Finally, the Community's argument that the district court had jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1362 was waived. View "Gila River Indian Community v. US Department of Veterans Affairs" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment for the United States in an action seeking to collect delinquent federal excise taxes and penalties for the manufacture of tobacco products under 26 U.S.C. 5701. Determining that it had jurisdiction over the appeal, the panel held that the amended judgment sufficiently specified both the amount of money due to the plaintiff and a formula for computing that amount of money. The panel also held that a tobacco manufacturer located on trust land was subject to a federal excise tax applicable to all tobacco products manufactured in the United States under 26 U.S.C. 5702. In this case, King Mountain manufactures and grows tobacco products on lands held in trust by the United States, within the boundaries of the Yakama Nation. Finally, the panel rejected King Mountain's claim of exemption based on either the General Allotment Act of 1887 or the Treaty with the Yakamas of 1855. View "United States v. King Mountain Tobacco Co." on Justia Law