WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court should reinstitute an injunction 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, the Cherokee Nation says in a Jan. 23 petition for a writ of certiorari (The Cherokee Nation v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 19-937, U.S. Sup., 2020 U.S. S. CT. BRIEFS LEXIS 301).
SAN DIEGO — A California appeals court on Jan. 29 again rebuffed attempts by tribal members to have them declared leaders of the tribe so it can receive gaming revenue funding from the state, finding that a 2014 ruling by the court bars the latest action and that the tribal members’ attorney must pay an $850 sanction for pursuing a frivolous appeal (California Valley Miwok Tribe, et al. v. California Gambling Control Commission, No. D074339, Calif. App., Dist. 4, Div. 1).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — With no conflicts among the top courts on the issues and no issue of exceptional importance presented, U.S. Supreme Court guidance is not needed 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, the tribe and several members say in a Jan. 30 response to a petition for certiorari (John McMahon, et al. v. Chemehuevi Indian Tribe, et al., No. 19-820, U.S. Sup.).
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians on Jan. 24 filed a declaratory action complaint against long-time legal foes Coachella Valley Water District and Desert Water Agency for imposing a water “replenishment assessment charge” (RAC) for water drawn from the tribe’s federally reserved groundwater (Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Coachella Valley Water District, et al., No. 20-174, C.D. Calif., Eastern Div.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The full Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in a divided Jan. 27 opinion found that two Republican-backed measures to combat alleged voter fraud in Arizona discriminate against Indian, Hispanic and black voters in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (The Democratic National Committee, et al. v. Katie Hobbs, et al., No. 18-15845, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 2470).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 24 declined to rehear a panel decision upholding the suppression of evidence of drug dealing found on a non-Indian parked on a public road on a reservation, although several dissenting judges said review by the full court was warranted due to the case’s extraordinary importance (United States v. Joshua James Cooley, No. 17-30022, 9th Cir.).
CHICAGO — A Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel chastised the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Jan. 27 for its “regulatory misdirection” when a Wisconsin Indian tribe sought help in protecting its sacred land from a mining operation, causing the tribe to file suit for which the panel affirmed dismissal for lack of a final agency action to challenge (Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 19-1130, 7th Cir.).
OKLAHOMA CITY — Three Indian tribes’ gaming compacts with Oklahoma did not renew automatically on Jan. 1 as the tribes contend, so a federal court should declare their ongoing casino-style gambling operations illegal and shut them down, the governor says in his Jan. 22 answer and counterclaims against the tribes (The Cherokee Nation, et al. v. J. Kevin Stitt, No. 19-1198, W.D. Okla.).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A federal judge in New Mexico on Jan. 21 ruled that members of the Navajo Tribe are not permitted to add more mineral rights and landowners as intervenors in a lawsuit brought by environmental advocacy groups against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for the approval of hydraulic fracturing permits in the Mancos Shale Play (Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 19-703, D. N.M.).
SAN FRANCISCO — A casino development company earned judgment from a California federal judge on Jan. 21 on its claim that a Native American tribe breached a contract by failing to repay $5.3 million the company loaned the tribe to build a casino, which was never built (JW Gaming Development, LLC v. Angela James, et al., No. 3:18-cv-02669, N.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9883).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Cherokee Nation can proceed with its lawsuit seeking an accounting from the federal government of assets held in trust for the tribe in light of the allegations in the complaint and the United States’ history of mismanaging Indian trusts “for nearly as long as it has been trustee,” a District of Columbia federal judge said Jan. 15 (The Cherokee Nation v. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 1:19-cv-02154, D. D.C.).
MINNEAPOLIS — A woman’s federal civil rights claims against a Minnesota Indian tribe’s governing body fail because the tribe is shielded from the suit by sovereign immunity and Congress has not waived immunity, a federal judge ruled Jan. 14 in adopting a magistrate judge’s recommendation and dismissing the woman’s complaint (Loretta-Lynn Begay Dobbs v. Fond du Lac Reservation Business Committee, No. 0:19-cv-01289, D. Minn.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Court of Federal Claims correctly dismissed takings claims by a Washington state resident over the Quinault Indian Nation’s use of a lake in a national park, the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decided Jan. 10, agreeing that the Claims Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction (Thomas G. Landreth v. United States, No. 19-2260, Fed. Cir.).
TACOMA, Wash. — The Department of the Interior’s 2015 decision to not allow Native American tribes that have been denied federal recognition to re-petition for the status is arbitrary and capricious, in violation of federal law, a Washington state federal judge held Jan. 10 (Chinook Indian Nation, et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 3:17-cv-5668, W.D. Wash.).
ST. LOUIS — The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 14 upheld an injunction barring a man involved in a long-running dispute with an oil and gas production company from suing the company in tribal court and stopping the tribal court from exercising jurisdiction over the dispute (Enerplus Resources [USA] Corporation v. Wilbur D. Wilkinson, et al., No. 17-3708, 8th Cir.).
BOISE, Idaho — A federal judge in Idaho on Jan. 8 denied a motion to stay the Nez Perce Tribe’s lawsuit against Midas Gold Corp. and its subsidiaries over allegedly illegal discharges of mining waste, finding that there is no sign that an agreement between the company and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over remediation at the site will be finalized in the next six months (Nez Perce Tribe v. Midas Gold Corp., et al., No. 19-cv-307, D. Idaho, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4707).
MADISON, Wis. — A Wisconsin county’s enforcement of its zoning laws on fee simple land held by tribal members within the Red Cliff Band Reservation violates federal Indian law, a federal judge held Jan. 9 in awarding the tribe summary judgment (Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians v. Bayfield County, Wisconsin, No. 3:18-cv-828, W.D. Wis., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6054).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari Jan. 13 for a non-Indian woman’s jurisdictional challenge to a tribal court’s issuance of a protection order against her for allegedly stalking her stepson (Joy Spurr v. Melissa Lopez Pope, et al., No. 19-598, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) on Jan. 9 moved in District of Columbia federal court for partial summary judgment in consolidated lawsuits against the Trump administration concerning the reduction in size of national monuments, which would allow access to land for hydraulic fracturing, contending that there is no genuine issue of disputed material fact and, therefore, all of the plaintiffs in the consolidated actions are entitled to judgment as a matter of law (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; and Natural Resources Defense Council, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2606, D. D.C. [consolidated]).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 13 turned down a request for certiorari in a payday lending dispute involving a Montana Indian tribe over a court’s interpretation of a delegation provision in an arbitration agreement (Sequoia Capital Operations, LLC v. Jessica Gingras, et al., No. 19-331, U.S. Sup.).