Mealey's Native American Law

  • January 22, 2021

    Ex-Inmate’s Religious Rights Claims Should Proceed, Magistrate Judge Advises

    SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A New York corrections officer is not entitled to summary judgment on a Native American’s claims that the officer violated the former inmate’s right to practice his religion and retaliated against him, a federal magistrate judge held Jan. 19 after finding that the ex-convict had exhausted his remedies with the prison system.

  • January 21, 2021

    Convicted Burglar Freed By Federal Judge Based On McGirt Ruling

    TULSA, Okla. — An Oklahoma federal judge on Jan. 15 granted a writ of habeas corpus petition for a Native American sentenced to 90 years in prison by a state court for burglary and larceny and ordered the state to release him from prison based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark jurisdiction decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma.

  • January 20, 2021

    Oil Company Enbridge Joins Suit Over Pipeline Replacement As Defendant

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A District of Columbia federal judge on Jan. 9 allowed an oil company to intervene as a defendant in a suit filed recently by two Native American tribes and two environmental groups challenging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ issuance of a permit authorizing replacement of a 338-mile section of pipeline in Minnesota and North Dakota.

  • January 19, 2021

    Members Of Congress Tell Justices Indian Police Jurisdiction Ruling Unworkable

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new “standard” established by a Ninth U.S. Court of Appeals ruling on the jurisdiction of Indian police officers to detain non-Indian suspects should be rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court because it is “inconsistent with history, precedent and legislation,” current and former members of Congress tell the high court in a Jan. 15 amicus curiae brief.

  • January 15, 2021

    Texas Tribe Protected From Man’s Suit Over Fall At Casino, Judge Rules

    LUFKIN, Texas — A man injured in a fall at a tribal casino cannot bring premises liability claims against the tribe and casino because they are shielded by sovereign immunity from suit, a Texas federal judge said Jan. 13 in adopting a magistrate judge’s recommendations and dismissing the case.

  • January 13, 2021

    Parties Challenging Census Seek To Delay Briefing In 9th Circuit Appeal

    SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals should push back briefing on the federal government’s appeal of a court injunction extending the 2020 census deadline, which has since been stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court, until the results of the census are presented to the president, parties challenging census deadlines that were changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic say in a Jan. 7 motion.

  • January 13, 2021

    Tribe’s Latest Bid For Cert Over Gaming Denial Fails, Texas Tells High Court

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court should turn down a request by a Texas Indian tribe to review a decision by the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that the tribe is subject to the state’s gaming laws because the tribe is only recycling the same rejected arguments it has used for years in the long-running dispute, Texas says in a Jan. 11 response brief in the high court.

  • January 13, 2021

    Federal Government Tells High Court To Scrap Tribal Police Jurisdiction Ruling

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Ninth U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that Indian police officers do not have jurisdiction to detain a non-Indian suspect on a public road on a reservation is wrong and will have “profound” consequences on law enforcement on reservations with already high crime rates, the federal government maintains in its Jan. 8 brief on the merits in the U.S. Supreme Court.

  • January 12, 2021

    Tribe’s Water Contract Conversion Suit Transferred To 2nd California Federal Court

    SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge in northern California on Dec. 21 granted a motion by the United States to transfer a lawsuit filed by a Native American tribe challenging the conversion of water contracts into “repayment contracts” to another federal court where two similar cases are pending.

  • January 12, 2021

    Tribe’s Mineral Council Wins Judgment On Wind Farm Developers’ Defenses

    TULSA, Okla. — An Oklahoma federal judge on Jan. 11 granted a Native American tribal mineral council judgment on five affirmative defenses asserted by wind farm developers to claims that the developers interfered with the tribe’s reserved mineral rights by excavating a site on tribal land without permission from the tribe or the United States.

  • January 12, 2021

    Oregon Appeals Court Reverses Vacating Of State Agency’s Water Curtailment Order

    SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon Court of Appeals on Dec. 30 reversed a trial court order vacating a state water curtailment order, saying that the court lacked jurisdiction and that the issue is covered by an agreement among parties and that is in litigation in another state court that is reviewing the Klamath River Basin adjudication.

  • January 11, 2021

    Row Over Tribe’s Collection Of Hazardous Waste Storage Fees Rejected By Justices

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 11 denied a petition for certiorari in a dispute over an Indian tribe’s jurisdiction to collect annual fees for storing a private company’s hazardous waste on the tribe’s land.

  • January 11, 2021

    Justices Take Up Dispute Among Tribes, Alaska Villages Over CARES Act Funds

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 8 agreed to decide whether Alaska Native corporations (ANCs) are considered tribal governments entitled to receive $162.3 million from last year’s federal COVID-19 relief funding package, which is being contested by Indian tribes in two consolidated cases.

  • January 08, 2021

    Tribes, States Sue Over Sale Of National Archives Building In Seattle

    SEATTLE — Two states and dozens of Indian tribes, tribal organizations and historical preservation groups sued several federal officials and agencies Jan. 4 in Washington federal court seeking to halt the planned sale of the National Archives building in Seattle, saying the proposal shows “a callous disregard for the people who have the greatest interest in being able to access these profoundly important records.”

  • January 07, 2021

    Government Loses Dismissal Bid For Cherokee Nation’s Trust Accounting Claims

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A District of Columbia federal judge on Jan. 4 recommended denying a motion by the Department of the Interior (DOI) to dismiss a suit by the Cherokee Nation seeking an accounting of funds held in trust for the tribe by the federal government, saying the tribe’s claims are more than adequately stated.

  • January 07, 2021

    Briefly: Army Corps Of Engineers Says Pipeline’s Impact ‘Not Significant’

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Jan. 6 issued a decision document pertaining to Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12) for the construction of pipelines that carry hydraulically fractured oil and gas, finding that “the discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States” authorized by NWP 12 “will not have a significant impact on the quality of the human environment.”

  • January 06, 2021

    Tribes, Groups Look To Halt Work On Enbridge Pipeline Replacement

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two Native American tribes and two environmental groups filed suit Dec. 24 in District of Columbia federal court to challenge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ issuance of a permit authorizing replacement of a 338-mile section of an oil pipeline in Minnesota and North Dakota, saying the project violates federal laws and treaties and harms the tribes.

  • January 06, 2021

    D.C. Circuit Reverses, Says Treasury Likely Shortchanged Tribe In CARES Act Funding

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 5 directed a federal court to “promptly” enjoin the Treasury Department from disbursing part of last year’s COVID-19 pandemic tribal relief funding after finding that an Oklahoma tribe is likely to succeed on its claim that the department allocated the funds improperly.

  • January 05, 2021

    Magistrate Backs Dismissal Of Disabled Man’s Suit Over Casino Eviction

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A disabled man cannot pursue federal civil rights claims against a tribally owned casino for having him removed from the premises because the casino, as an arm of the tribe, is protected by sovereign immunity, a California federal magistrate judge ruled Jan. 4 in recommending dismissal of the man’s lawsuit.

  • January 04, 2021

    Card Rooms Petition High Court To Halt Tribe’s Casino Plans

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Allowing the federal government to take away California’s jurisdiction over a piece of land so an Indian tribe can build a casino there is an attack on the state’s sovereignty that requires U.S. Supreme Court intervention, two card rooms in the state say in a Dec. 18 petition for a writ of certiorari.