WASHINGTON, D.C. — With a conflict among several high authorities, U.S. Supreme Court guidance is obviously warranted for a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals holding that a small section of California land where an Indian tribe says the local police are illegally ticketing and targeting Indian drivers is part of the tribe’s reservation, a sheriff and deputy sheriff say in a Feb. 19 reply brief (John McMahon, et al. v. Chemehuevi Indian Tribe, et al., No. 19-820, U.S. Sup.).
LOS ANGELES — A California city did not do enough to protect Indian artifacts, endangered plants and prized oak trees at a site targeted for commercial development that’s listed in the California Register of Historical Resources (CRHR), a state appeals court held Feb. 24 in affirming a trial court’s findings (Save the Agoura Cornell Knoll, et al. v. Agoura Hills, et al., Nos. B292246, B295112, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., 7th Div.).
RICHMOND, Va. — A Virginia federal judge on Feb. 20 sent two questions of law to the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals for resolution, one at the request of tribal defendants in a class action over payday loans and the other at his own discretion (George Hengle, et al. v. Scott Asner, et al., No. 3:19-cv-250, E.D. Va., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30261).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tribal parties in a year-old U.S. Supreme Court case asking whether Congress abrogated tribal sovereign immunity in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code received a ninth extension of their response brief deadline Feb. 12 after telling the court that a settlement of the dispute is awaiting a bankruptcy court’s final approval (Buchwald Capital Advisors, LLC v. Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, et al., No. 18-1218, U.S. Sup.).
BAYFIELD, Wis. — A Native American appeals court has jurisdiction over a tribal court’s denial of a motion to dismiss the tribe’s trespass claims against a local phone company, and the tribal court properly rejected the denial bid, the appeals court held Feb. 4 (Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians v. CenturyTel of the Midwest-Kendall, LLC, No. 19-APP-02, Red Cliff Band App.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPMDL) on Feb. 5 denied a motion by 30 opioid defendants to vacate the panel’s remand of two opioid cases brought by the Cherokee Nation and San Francisco (In Re: National Prescription Opiate Litigation, MDL Docket No. 2804, JPMDL).
DENVER — Indian tribal members who succeeded in getting the U.S. government to provide an accounting of the tribe’s mineral rights trust are not entitled to have the government pay their attorney fees because the United States’ position during the 15-year-long litigation was “substantially justified,” the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Feb. 14 (William S. Fletcher, et al. v. United States, et al., No. 16-5050, 10th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The actions of Congress and the “fundamental principles of statutory construction” show that the size of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation have never been reduced over the years, the tribe tells the U.S. Supreme Court in a Feb. 11 amicus curiae brief (Jimcy McGirt v. Oklahoma, No. 18-9526, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The maker of Juul electronic cigarettes specifically targeted Native Americans in its goal of having cigarette smokers switch to e-cigarettes, and its efforts aimed at Indians was more pervasive than previously known, a U.S. House subcommittee reported Feb. 5.
BISMARCK, N.D. — An Indian tribe and tribal members state valid claims in an amended complaint that North Dakota’s voter ID law violates federal law and the U.S. Constitution, a federal judge determined Feb. 10 in declining the state’s request to dismiss the claims (Spirit Lake Tribe, et al. v. Alvin Jaeger, No. 1:18-cv-00222, D. N.D., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22162).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy on Feb. 5 released an update on the committee’s e-cigarette investigation, stating that Juul Labs Inc. (JLI) said that it may reintroduce “kid-friendly” flavors in the future and may be making claims about its devices’ “safety and efficacy without the legal authorization to do so.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Trump administration’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget proposal includes $112.1 million for Native American water rights settlements, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 7 dismissed a tribal historic office’s efforts to challenge construction of a natural gas pipeline across tribal lands, saying the office lost its standing when the pipeline work destroyed more than 20 ceremonial stone features the office was trying to protect (Narragansett Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Office v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, No. 19-1009, D.C. Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 3766).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An Indian wholesale tobacco company in New York asks the U.S. Supreme Court to review a California appeals court holding that the state has jurisdiction to regulate the company’s sales to a tribe in California in a petition for certiorari docketed Feb. 6 (Native Wholesale Supply Company v. People of California ex rel. Xavier Becerra, No. 19-985, U.S. Sup., 2020 U.S. S. CT. BRIEFS LEXIS 450).
PHOENIX — There are sufficient allegations to survive a motion to dismiss a mother’s claims that an Indian police department’s lack of response to calls for help caused the death of her son, an Arizona federal judge determined Feb. 5 (Ruby Charley v. United States, No. 19-08239, D. Ariz., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18767).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — It is clear from a lack of action by Congress that the boundaries of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation have never been reduced over the years, such that Oklahoma doesn’t have jurisdiction to prosecute a tribal member for sexual molestation of children, the member tells the U.S. Supreme Court in his Feb. 4 opening brief on the merits (Jimcy McGirt v. Oklahoma, No. 18-9526, U.S. Sup., 2020 U.S. S. CT. BRIEFS LEXIS 433).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals holding that tribal sovereign immunity does not protect tribal officials from a casino development company’s fraud and racketeering claims warrants U.S. Supreme Court review because it goes against real-party-in-interest jurisprudence, a California tribe and its officials tell the high court in a Jan. 30 petition for certiorari (Angela James, et al. v. JW Gaming Development, LLC, No. 19-971, U.S. Sup., 2020 U.S. S. CT. BRIEFS LEXIS 404).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ranchers in Oregon cannot challenge two protocols governing tribal water rights in the Klamath Basin because they lack the standing, having failed to show that the protocols caused them harm, a federal judge determined Jan. 31 (Gerald H. Hawkins, et al. v. David L. Bernhardt, et al., No. 19-1498, D. D.C., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16626).
SEATTLE — A Washington oyster company must temporarily halt all activities on certain shellfish beds until permanent injunctive relief is determined for its violations of an implementation plan for an Indian tribe’s treaty rights to harvest shellfish, a federal judge ruled Jan. 31 (United States, et al. v. Washington, et al., No. 2:70-cv-09213, subproceeding Skokomish Indian Tribe v. Gold Coast Oyster LLC, et al., No. 2:89-sp-312 [shellfish], W.D. Wash., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17026).
RAPID CITY, S.D. — The South Dakota Department of Social Services (DSS) will pay $350,000 in back pay and other monetary relief to 60 Native American job applicants under a settlement approved Jan. 30 by a South Dakota federal judge of claims by the United States that the DSS discriminated against Indian job seekers (United States v. South Dakota Department of Social Services, No. 5:15-cv-05079, W.D. S.D.).