RICHMOND, Va. — Two tribal payday lending companies are arms of the tribe and, as such, are protected from customers’ class action usury claims by the tribe’s sovereign immunity, the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled July 3 in reversing a federal trial court (Lula Williams, et al. v. Big Picture Loans, LLC, et al., No. 18-1827, 4th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 19957).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on July 5 filed a brief in the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that the court should deny a Native American tribal preservation group’s motion seeking to intervene in the agency’s decision to allow the construction of a pipeline to carry hydraulically fractured gas across tribal lands because the tribe was given the opportunity to consult with FERC during the permit process and failed to do so (Narragansett Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Office v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, No. 19-1009, D.C. Cir.).
ST. PAUL, Minn. — An Indian woman whose infant son died soon after being born due to toxicity from the drugs she took while pregnant can be charged with involuntary manslaughter, a divided Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held July 5 in reversing a trial court’s dismissal of the woman’s indictment (United States v. Samantha Flute, No. 17-3727, 8th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 20052).
CHICAGO — The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 28 denied a request to reconsider its divided decision that a Wisconsin Indian tribe waited too long to challenge another tribe’s competing casino operations under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) (The Stockbridge-Munsee Community v. Wisconsin, et al., No. 18-1449, 7th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 19519).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — There is no need for U.S. Supreme Court review of an Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling directing a trial court to abstain from hearing a suit filed by tribes and tribal members challenging South Dakota’s process for removing children from their homes in emergency situations, the state’s attorney tells the high court in a June 27 response brief (Oglala Sioux Tribe, et al. v. Lisa Fleming, et al., No. 18-1245, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 2356).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. attorney general on June 28 declared a law enforcement emergency in rural Alaska under the Emergency Federal Law Enforcement Assistance Program and said the federal government has allocated $6 million to Alaska that is available immediately “for critical law enforcement needs of Alaska Native villages.”
SEATTLE — A Washington state Indian tribe fails in its attempt to have a river included in its treaty-guaranteed fishing grounds because it did not follow the proper procedure for a judicial determination under a 45-year-old court decree resolving tribal fishing grounds disputes, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held June 26 in a divided opinion (United States v. Washington, et al., No. 17-35760, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 19068).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Native American convicted of murder will have to wait until another term of the U.S. Supreme Court to find out if a ruling vacating his state court conviction so he can be tried in federal court will stand after the high court justices on June 27 restored the case to the calendar rather than issuing an opinion so it can be reargued next term (Mike Carpenter v. Patrick Dwayne Murphy, No. 17-1107, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A battle between town residents and a Massachusetts Indian tribe over the tribe’s attempt to build a casino, water park and hotels has shifted from the commonwealth to Washington after a District of Columbia federal judge on June 21 denied a request by the residents to transfer venue (Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 18-2242, D. D.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104109).
CLEVELAND — The Ohio federal judge overseeing the opioid multidistrict litigation on June 25 adjourned a hearing on a motion to certify a novel “negotiation class” so that the moving plaintiffs can get input from state attorneys general and counties and incorporate them into a revised motion (In Re: National Prescription Opiate Litigation, MDL Docket No. 2804, No. 17-md-2804, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Div.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Native American tribal groups and conservationists on June 21 filed a brief in the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that their appeal of the Trump administration’s decision to reinstate hydraulic fracturing leases on tribal land in Montana is not moot, as the administration has suggested (W.A. Moncrief, Jr. v. United States Department of the Interior, et al., No. 18-5340, D.C. Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court justices on June 24 turned down a request to decide an Indian woman’s double jeopardy claims for a federal manslaughter charge that followed her manslaughter conviction in a tribal court, after holding a week prior in another case that a person can be prosecuted for the same crime by separate sovereigns (Tawnya Bearcomesout v. United States, No. 17-6856, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on June 24 agreed with the U.S. government and denied a petition for certiorari challenging an Alabama Supreme Court decision that an Indian tribe is not protected by tribal sovereign immunity from tort claims in a car crash personal injury negligence suit (Poarch Band of Creek Indians, et al. v. Casey Marie Wilkes, et al., No. 17-1175, U.S. Sup.).
PORTLAND, Ore. — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 17 upheld a man’s conviction for an assault that happened on a Montana Indian reservation after finding that there was enough evidence at trial to show that the victim is an Indian under the General Crimes Act (United States v. Edward Anthony Torres, No. 18-30140, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 18084).
PIERRE, S.D. — Wrongful termination claims leveled by a former principal at an Indian school are preempted by federal laws providing for the education of Native American children, the South Dakota Supreme Court held June 19 in affirming dismissal of the claims in state court (Timothy Stathis v. Marty Indian School, et al., No. 2019 S.D. 33, S.D. Sup.).
BOSTON — On a return trip on remand following U.S. Supreme Court rejection of the case, a Native American tribe was awarded judgment June 19 by a Massachusetts federal judge to operate a bingo establishment on Martha’s Vineyard, though not the full judgment it had sought (Massachusetts, et al. v. Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head [Aquinnah], et al., No. 13-13286, D. Mass.).
SEATTLE — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 13 halted an appeal in a Washington Indian tribe’s membership dispute pending the outcome of a case challenging the validity of the tribe’s government-directed election (Margretty Rabang, et al. v. Robert Kelly, Jr., et al., No. 18-35711, 9th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States failed to prudently invest money at various times for three funds established to pay members of the Western Shoshone tribes for the government’s taking of their ancestral lands in Nevada and California without just compensation, a U.S. Court of Federal Claims judge held June 13 (The Western Shoshone Identifiable Group, et al. v. United States, No. 06-896L, Fed. Clms.).
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — An Alabama federal judge in a June 14 text only order gave the Poarch Band of Creek Indians more time to respond to another tribe’s claims that the Poarch Band illegally removed 57 bodies from an ancient burial ground to build a casino (Muscogee [Creek] Nation, et al. v. Poarch Band of Creek Indians, et al., No. 2:12-cv-1079, M.D. Ala.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on June 17 affirmed that a person can be prosecuted for the same crime by separate sovereigns, such as a state and the United States in the decided case, with the ruling possibly also deciding an Indian woman’s double jeopardy claims for a federal manslaughter charge that followed her manslaughter conviction in a tribal court (Tawnya Bearcomesout v. United States, No. 17-6856, U.S. Sup.).