Mealey's Native American Law

  • August 26, 2020

    Navajo Man Loses Supreme Court, District Court Bids To Halt Execution

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court  on Aug. 25 denied Navajo Nation member Lezmond Mitchell's petition for certiorari and application to stay his execution, which is scheduled to take place Aug. 26 by lethal injection in an Indiana federal prison (Lezmond Charles Mitchell v. United States, No. 20-5398, U.S. Sup.).

  • August 24, 2020

    UPS Decries 2nd Circuit Ruling On Indian Smoke Shop Deliveries, Damages Award

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Supreme Court review is needed for United Parcel Service Inc.'s challenge to a $98 million damages award to New York state and city for UPS's illegal shipments of untaxed cigarettes from Native American smoke shops "to resolve a circuit split and to restore the integrity of Congress's comprehensive scheme of tobacco regulation," the company argues in an Aug. 18 reply brief (United Parcel Service, Inc. v. New York, et al., No. 19-1306, U.S. Sup.).

  • August 24, 2020

    Cert Needed To Clarify Test For Taxation Of Tribes, Oklahoma County Board Says

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — With a "significant conflict in case law created" when the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that a county cannot tax video gaming machines in tribal casinos, U.S. Supreme Court intervention is needed to settle the dispute, a county tax board argues in an Aug. 21 reply brief (Rogers County Board of Tax Roll Corrections, et al. v. Video Gaming Technologies, Inc., No. 19-1298, U.S. Sup.).

  • August 21, 2020

    Federal Government Opposes Certiorari, Stay For Indian Facing Execution

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court should reject a Navajo man's petition for certiorari and application to stay his planned Aug. 26 execution because he has no chance of succeeding on the merits of his claim that he is entitled to interview jurors from his murder trial to determine if any were biased against Indians, the federal government says in its Aug. 20 brief in opposition (Lezmond Charles Mitchell v. United States, No. 20-5398 U.S. Sup.).

  • August 21, 2020

    Federal Judge Says Tribe's CARES Act Funding Challenge Not Reviewable

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A District of Columbia federal judge on Aug. 19 rebuffed an Indian tribe's challenge to the federal government's distribution of a portion of coronavirus pandemic tribal relief funding based on housing statistics, finding that the way the government allocated the money among tribes is "not a reviewable agency action" (Shawnee Tribe v. Steven T. Mnuchin, et al., No. 20-1999, D. D.C.).

  • August 17, 2020

    Indian Descendant's Petition Over Murder Conviction To Be Reviewed Without Response

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court will rule on whether to grant certiorari to a tribal descendant seeking review of his murder conviction in a North Carolina court without hearing from the state, with the court on Aug. 12 scheduling the case for a September conference after the state declined to respond to the petition (George Lee Nobles v. North Carolina, No. 20-87, U.S. Sup.).

  • August 13, 2020

    4 Oklahoma Tribes Sue Over DOI's Approval Of Gaming Compacts

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — With the Oklahoma Supreme Court recently finding that the governor did not have the authority to enter into gaming compacts with two Indian tribes, four other tribes in the state with valid compacts now seek to have the two improper deals invalidated by a District of Columbia federal court, saying in an Aug. 7 lawsuit that the Department of the Interior (DOI) violated the law when it deemed the compacts approved (Cherokee Nation, et al. v. U.S. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 1:20-cv-02167, D. D.C.).

  • August 13, 2020

    Navajo Nation Tribal Court Lacks Jurisdiction Over Storage Tank Liability Insurer

    PRESCOTT, Ariz. — A Navajo Nation tribal court lacks jurisdiction over the insurer of a gas station because the release of more than 15,000 gallons of gasoline onto Navajo Nation Reservation land occurred after the policy at issue expired, an Arizona federal judge said Aug. 7 in granting the insurer's motion for summary judgment (Zurich American Insurance Co. v. Doreen McPaul, et al., No. 19-8227, D. Ariz., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141405).

  • August 12, 2020

    California Tribe Sues Trump To Halt Border Wall Work Through Its Land

    SAN DIEGO — An Indian tribe says in an Aug. 11 federal court lawsuit that President Donald J. Trump violated the law and the U.S. Constitution by transferring funds to build a wall along the border with Mexico in southern California "directly through" the tribe's land, endangering sacred burial sites, archaeological artifacts and the tribe's way of life (La Posta Band of the Diegueño Mission Indians v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 3:20-cv-01552, S.D. Calif.).

  • August 12, 2020

    11th Circuit Upholds Dismissal Of Church's Claims Involving Florida Tribe

    ATLANTA — Claims against an Indian tribe over a hostile takeover of a church in Florida using tribal police officers have no place in federal court because of sovereign immunity and the doctrine of separation of church and state, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed Aug. 10 (Eglise Baptiste Bethanie de Ft. Lauderdale, Inc., et al. v. Seminole Tribe of Florida, et al., No. 20-10173, 11th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 25205).

  • August 11, 2020

    Nevada Tribe Gets Judgment For Additional Water Rights In Walker River Case

    RENO, Nev. — A Nevada federal judge on July 20 ruled that the Walker River Paiute Tribe is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on its claims of additional water rights under the 1936 Decree, turning back affirmative defenses raised by 13 Nevada and California defendants following a 2019 federal appeals court ruling (United States, et al. v. Walker River Irrigation District, et al., No. 73-127, D. Nev., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128452).

  • August 10, 2020

    Blue Cross Blue Shield Wins Judgment On Michigan Tribe's ERISA Claims

    BAY CITY, Mich. — A Blue Cross Blue Shield insurer did not violate the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by failing to pay Medicare-like rates for hospital services under health care plans for tribal members and employees, a Michigan federal judge ruled Aug. 7 in awarding the insurer summary judgment (Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, et al. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, No. 1:16-cv-10317, E.D. Mich., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141345).

  • August 07, 2020

    Navajo Woman Awarded Judgment In Fight To Receive Moving Assistance

    PRESCOTT, Ariz. — A Navajo woman has a second chance at receiving relocation aid under the Navajo-Hopi Settlement Act of 1974 after an Arizona federal judge on Aug. 6 reversed the denial of benefits to her and sent the case back to an agency hearing officer to decide whether the woman's common-law marriage when she was a teenager qualified her as a head of household eligible to receive benefits (Bernaleen Singer v. Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation, No. 19-8171, D. Ariz., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 140529).

  • August 06, 2020

    EPA To Spend $360M To Resolve Utah's Claims Over Gold King Mine Spill

    SALT LAKE CITY — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Aug. 5 announced that it reached a $360 million agreement with the state of Utah that would resolve the state’s claims under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, Clean Water Act (CWA) and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) for the cleanup of contamination stemming from the Gold King Mine spill in 2015.

  • August 05, 2020

    Convicted Killer Seeks Review Of Tests To Determine If A Defendant Is An Indian

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court needs to remedy a divide among the nation's courts on how to determine if a criminal defendant is an Indian for purposes of federal or state jurisdiction and whether the Indian status question should be left to juries to decide, a tribal descendant convicted of murder in a state court tells the high court in his July 27 petition for certiorari (George Lee Nobles v. North Carolina, No. 20-87, U.S. Sup., 2020 U.S. S. CT. BRIEFS LEXIS 2239).

  • August 05, 2020

    Federal Government To Execute Indian Over Objections Of Tribe

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Department of Justice on July 29 scheduled an execution date for the only Native American on federal death row, who got the death penalty for carjacking rather than murder because federal law does not allow an Indian to be put to death for the murder of other Indians on reservation land without the consent of the tribe.

  • August 05, 2020

    Trump Administration: Case Cited By Tribes In Monuments Lawsuit 'Not On Point'

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Trump administration on July 31 filed a brief in the District of Columbia District Court contending that the U.S. Supreme Court case cited by Native American tribes in the dispute over President Donald J. Trump's decision to reduce the size of two national monuments for hydraulic fracturing purposes is "not on point" (Hopi Tribe, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2590; Utah Diné Bikéyah, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2605, Natural Resources Defense Council, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2606, D. D.C. [consolidated]).

  • August 04, 2020

    Oklahoma Attorney General Seeks Help From Appeals Court With McGirt Challenges

    OKLAHOMA CITY — With a "flood of inmates" in Oklahoma now challenging their state court convictions based on the U.S. Supreme Court's jurisdiction ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma, the state attorney general on Aug. 3 said he filed an appellate court brief in a murder case to get guidance from the court on how deal with cases affected by the high court's decision (Shaun Michael Bosse v. Oklahoma, No. PCD-2019-124, Okla. Crim. App).

  • August 04, 2020

    New York State, City Dispute Cert For Award Against UPS For Cigarette Deliveries

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The "two discrete legal issues" raised by United Parcel Service Inc. in its bid for certiorari over $98 million in damages awarded to New York state and city for UPS's illegal shipments of untaxed cigarettes from Native American smoke shops do not warrant U.S. Supreme Court review, the state and city argue in Aug. 3 opposition briefs (United Parcel Service, Inc. v. New York, et al., No. 19-1306, U.S. Sup.).

  • August 04, 2020

    Judge:  Trump Administration's Repeal Of Royalty Rule For Indian Lands Stands

    SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge in California on July 30 denied a motion by environmental groups and let stand the Trump administration's repeal of an oil and gas valuation rule for hydraulic fracturing royalties on Indian lands, despite a prior ruling that the administration's action violated federal law (State of California, et al. v. United States Department of the Interior, et al., No. 17-5948, N.D. Calif.).

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