Mealey's Native American Law

  • October 18, 2019

    Former Tribal Officer Guilty Of Sexually Assaulting Handcuffed DUI Suspect

    PRESCOTT, Ariz. — A federal jury on Oct. 16 found a former police officer for a Native American tribe guilty of sexually molesting a detainee while she was handcuffed in the back of his patrol car (United States v. Mackenzie Davis, No. 3:19-cr-8008, D. Ariz.).

  • October 18, 2019

    Panel Sends Adoption Case Back To Court For ICWA Notification Compliance

    SAN FRANCISCO — A California appeals court sent a child custody case back to juvenile court on Oct. 15 after finding that the state’s child welfare agency failed to follow the tribal notification process in the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) (Mendocino County Department of Health and Human Services v. Alissa C., et al., No. A156771, Calif. App., 1st Dist., Div. 3, 2019 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 6903).

  • October 18, 2019

    8th Circuit Denies Rehearing In Row Over South Dakota Tax On Tribal Casino Project

    ST. PAUL, Minn. — An Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel — though divided in a recent opinion on whether South Dakota’s excise tax on a building contractor for a Native American casino project is preempted by federal law — on Oct. 15 declined to revisit the case (Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe v. Josh Haeder, et al., No. 18-1271, 8th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 30764).

  • October 16, 2019

    Justices Petitioned In Oneida Tribal Court Jurisdiction Dispute

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — An Indian woman who is trying to get the estate of her late husband to pay child support has taken her fight against a tribal court ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court with an Aug. 27 petition for a writ of certiorari, which wasn’t docketed until Oct. 10 (Arietta J. Kurowski v. Estate of Kenneth H. Kurowski, No. 19-477, U.S. Sup.).

  • October 15, 2019

    Federal Judge Tosses Bias Claims Leveled By Former Casino Worker

    SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A New York federal judge on Oct. 11 dismissed an employment discrimination suit filed by a former Indian casino employee at the recommendation of a magistrate judge for lack of subject matter jurisdiction (Lucinda A. Johnson v. Oneida Nation Enterprise, LLC, No. 5:19-cv-853, N.D. N.Y., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176808).

  • October 14, 2019

    Federal Judge Turns Back Challenge To Land Deal For California Tribe’s Casino

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A challenge by residents and an advocacy group in California to the United States’ decision to take land into trust so an Indian tribe can build a casino at the site failed when a federal judge on Oct. 7 awarded the government and tribe summary judgment (Stand Up For California!, et al. v. U.S. Department of Interior, et al., No. 1:17-cv-00058, D. D.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 173441).

  • October 11, 2019

    10th Circuit Reverses, Says U.S. Can Take Land Into Trust For Cherokee Band

    DENVER — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals vacated an injunction Sept. 5 barring the Department of the Interior (DOI) from taking 76 acres of land within the historic Cherokee Nation reservation into trust for a Cherokee band after finding that the DOI properly approved the band’s trust application (The Cherokee Nation v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 17-7042, 10th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 26780).

  • October 10, 2019

    Tribe, Tribal Agencies Can Litigate Contract, Fiduciary Breach Claims Against HUD

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A challenge by an Indian tribe and tribal housing authorities to a reduction in their federal housing block grant funding heads back to the trial court after the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 9 remanded a second time so the lower court can decide breach of contract claims (Lummi Tribe of the Lummi Reservation, et al. v. United States, No. 2018-1720, Fed. Cir.).

  • October 09, 2019

    States Back Anglers’ Groups Seeking Reversal Of Clean Water Act Ruling

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Twenty-one states filed an amicus curiae brief Sept. 27 in the U.S. Supreme Court to support two fishing groups battling a ruling in favor of an Indian tribe that Oregon and California’s authority to conduct water quality reviews for the federal licensing process for hydroelectric dams was waived by the dam operator’s yearly withdrawals and resubmissions for federal licensing renewal (California Trout, et al. v. Hoopa Valley Tribe, et al., No. 19-257, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 3572).

  • October 09, 2019

    Tribe Gets Another Remand In Fight Against Neighbor Tribe’s History Center

    DENVER — Most of an Oklahoma tribe’s claims under federal laws in its challenge to another tribe’s construction of a history center are moot for lack of a remedy because the center was completed during the case, though a challenge to one part of the center that was not built is still possible, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Oct. 4 (Caddo Nation of Oklahoma v. Wichita and Affiliated Tribes, et al., No. 18-6142, 10th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 29925).

  • October 09, 2019

    19 Senators Want Army Corps’ ‘Water Supply Rule’ To Be Withdrawn For More Input

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Nineteen U.S. senators from the American west on Sept. 16 sent a letter urging the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to withdraw a proposed rule governing the use of water from U.S. Army Corps of Engineer reservoir projects.

  • October 07, 2019

    Cert Denied For Tribes’ Challenge To South Dakota’s Child Custody Procedure

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 7 denied certiorari for two South Dakota Indian tribes that say the state’s process for removing Native American children from their homes in emergency situations violates parents’ and children’s due process rights and the Indian Child Welfare Act (Oglala Sioux Tribe, et al. v. Lisa Fleming, et al., No. 18-1245, U.S. Sup.).

  • October 04, 2019

    Justices Need Not Revisit Tribal Jurisdiction Issue, California Tribe Argues

    SAN FRANCISCO — U.S. Supreme Court review is not needed to decide if a California tribal court can hear the tribe’s fraud claims against its former administrator because a tribe’s jurisdiction over nonmembers has been decided already by the high court’s precedents, the tribe and its court and chief judge tell the Supreme Court in their Oct. 3 brief in opposition to certiorari (Duanna Knighton v. Cedarville Rancheria of Northern Paiute Indians, et al., No. 19-131, U.S. Sup.).

  • October 04, 2019

    Tribal Officials Must Face Fraud, Racketeering Claims, 9th Circuit Says

    SAN FRANCISCO — Tribal sovereign immunity does not protect tribal officials from a casino development company’s fraud and racketeering claims because the officials, sued in their individual capacities, are the real parties in interest, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 2 in affirming denial of the officials’ dismissal bid (JW Gaming Development, LLC v. Angela James, et al., No. 18-17008, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 29613).

  • October 03, 2019

    Boundary Map Upheld By 9th Circuit In Tribal Fishing Rights Row

    SEATTLE — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 30 affirmed a trial court’s boundary map, drawn on remand, in a long-running dispute among Washington state Indian tribes over the right to take whales and seals on their traditional fishing grounds in the Pacific Ocean (Makah Indian Tribe v. Quileute Indian Tribe, et al., No. 18-35369, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 29419).

  • October 02, 2019

    Native American Inmate Fails On Claim That His Religious Rights Were Violated

    CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A Native American inmate fails on his claim that the confiscation of his religious devotional items was a violation of federal law because he did not prove that he was substantially burdened by the loss of the items, a Texas federal judge ruled Sept. 27 in awarding judgment to prison workers (David Hayman v. Medardo Villarreal, et al., No. 2:17-cv-307, S.D. Texas, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166607).

  • October 01, 2019

    New Mexico Tribe Loses Bid To Quiet Title To National Preserve

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A New Mexico federal judge on Sept. 27 released a redacted version of a 530-page opinion finding that because a Native American tribe does not hold aboriginal title to the lands of a national preserve, the United States is entitled to quiet title to the preserve (Pueblo of Jemez v. United States, et al., No. 12-0800, D. N.M.).

  • October 01, 2019

    9th Circuit Lets Stand Ruling That Traffic Stop Site Is Part Of Reservation

    PASADENA, Calif. — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 27 declined to revisit its decision that a small section of California land where a Native American tribe says the local police are illegally ticketing and targeting Indian drivers is part of the tribe’s reservation, so the officers lack jurisdiction to enforce the state’s traffic laws there (Chemehuevi Indian Tribe, et al. v. John McMahon, et al., No. 17-56791, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 29291).

  • September 30, 2019

    Texas Tribe Seeks High Court Review In Fight To Operate Gambling Facility

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A split among federal circuit courts and the U.S. Supreme Court on interpreting the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) has allowed one Indian tribe to open a gambling operation while preventing another tribe from doing the same, a Texas tribe tells the high court in its Sept. 23 bid for review of an injunction barring it from running a gambling business (Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas v. Texas, No. 19-403, U.S. Sup.).

  • September 25, 2019

    United States Doesn’t Owe Tribe For Third-Party Health Service Revenue, Judge Says

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal judge in the District of Columbia on Sept. 9 granted summary judgment against a Washington state Native American tribe, finding that the tribe’s collection and expenditure of third-party revenues cannot be counted as part of the federal government’s reimbursement for Native American health care programs (Swinomish Indian Tribal Community v. Alex M. Azar, No. 18-1156, D. D.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152928).