RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Two California water districts on Nov. 25 told a federal court that a Native American tribe is trying to expand its groundwater lawsuit now that the court has narrowed the case to one issue (Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Coachella Valley Water District, et al., No. 13-883, C.D. Calif.).
SPOKANE, Wash. — An Indian sentenced to spend time in a tribal prison for domestic assault- related convictions lost his chance for habeas relief Dec. 9 when a Washington federal judge found that he was not in custody and had not exhausted his tribal court remedies (Andre Picard v. Colville Tribal Jail, et al., No. 2:19-cv-00244, E.D. Wash., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 211866).
SAN FRANCISCO — The latest appellate challenge in a long-running dispute over who is the rightful leader of a California Indian tribe ended Dec. 9 before it began when the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals dismissed an appeal by another tribe seeking to intervene for failure to prosecute (Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians v. Cesar Caballero v. Wopumnes Nisenan-Mewuk Tribe, No. 19-16576, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 36433).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 9 denied a request for certiorari by two fishing groups over a ruling in favor of an Indian tribe and others that California and Oregon lost their authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to issue water quality certificates for dams awaiting federal license renewal when requests for certification were not fulfilled by the states within one year (California Trout, et al. v. Hoopa Valley Tribe, et al., No. 19-257, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Native American groups and an Indian tribe urged the U.S. Supreme Court in recent amicus curiae briefs to grant review of interpretations of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) that have blocked two Texas tribes from opening gambling businesses (Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas v. Texas, No. 19-403, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Environmental advocacy groups on Nov. 7 filed two separate amended complaints in District of Columbia federal court, each contending that President Donald J. Trump’s executive order that reduced the size of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSNM), which the groups say was partly motivated by a desire to access land for hydraulic fracturing, is “an unconstitutional and ultra vires exercise of a power committed to Congress and not delegated to the Executive Branch.” The complaints were amended to include the declarations of numerous residents affected by the reduction of the monuments (The Wilderness Society, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2587, Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2591, D. D.C. [consolidated]).
MUSKOGEE, Okla. — A tribal hospital reached a $7.5 million settlement with the parents of a child born with a severe brain injury after being deprived of oxygen during labor and filed their agreement in an Oklahoma federal court on Nov. 19 (Shelby Wilkett Carshall, et al. v. United States, et al., No. 17-329, E.D. Okla.).
SALT LAKE CITY — Four Indians who were banished from a Utah tribe cannot pursue federal habeas relief because their five-year banishment does not equate to being in custody, a federal judge ruled Dec. 3 (Angelita M. Chegup, et al. v. Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah & Ouray Reservation, et al., No. 2:19-cv-286, D. Utah, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 209049).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — There is no division among the federal circuit courts and no conflict with any U.S. Supreme Court ruling on whether a trial court can interpret a delegation provision in an arbitration agreement, so high court review is not warranted, two customers in a payday lending row involving a Montana Indian tribe argue in a Nov. 26 opposition brief (Sequoia Capital Operations, LLC v. Jessica Gingras, et al., No. 19-331, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Navajo Nation sued the federal government on Dec. 3 after the Department of the Interior (DOI) slashed nearly all of the tribe’s education assistance funding for 2019 (The Navajo Nation v. U.S. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 1:19-cv-03612, D. D.C.).
BILLINGS, Mont. — People opposed to bison hunts on a quarter-mile-square patch of land next to Yellowstone National Park failed to show the harm needed for an injunction to halt the hunts, and the balance of hardships and public interests if an injunction were granted “weighs heavily in favor” of allowing the hunts to continue, a Montana federal judge held Dec. 2 (Neighbors Against Bison Slaughter, et al. v. The National Park Service, et al., No. 1:19-cv-128, D. Mont., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 207401).
PABLO, Mont. — U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr visited a Montana Indian reservation Nov. 22 to announce a nationwide law enforcement initiative to address the high rate of violence toward Native American women, find Indian women who are missing and prosecute killers of Indian women, according to a news release.
PITTSBURGH — A Pennsylvania man cannot litigate claims in federal court that the Cherokee Nation wrongfully denied him membership in the tribe because the tribal officials he sued are protected by the tribe’s sovereign immunity, a federal judge decided Nov. 25 (Jerome Wayne Parker v. Bill John Baker, et al., No. 2:19-cv-1439, W.D. Pa., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 204165).
PORTLAND, Ore. — A former employee of a Native American college cannot pursue federal wrongful termination claims against the school’s operator because it is protected from suit by the sovereign immunity of the three tribes involved, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held Nov. 20 (Stephen McCoy v. Salish Kootenai College, Inc., et al., No. 18-35729, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 34524).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A non-Indian woman who was slapped with a tribal civil protection order for allegedly stalking her stepson took her fight against tribal court jurisdiction to the U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 5, arguing that she never had sufficient contacts with the tribe for its court to take jurisdiction over her (Joy Spurr v. Melissa Lopez Pope, et al., No. 19-598, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 6320).
SEATTLE — A Washington federal judge on Nov. 15 sanctioned an attorney for continuing to prosecute fraud claims against tribal health clinic officials even after discovery turned up no evidence to support the claims, directing him to pay a percentage of the officials’ attorney fees (United States, ex rel. Raju Dahlstrom v. Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe of Washington, et al., No. 2:16-cv-52, W.D. Wash., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 198624).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A member of the Cherokee Nation sentenced to 30 years in state prison on multiple drug-dealing convictions reiterates in an Oct. 25 U.S. Supreme Court reply brief that his petition for certiorari should be granted because a search of his home in Indian country violated federal law (Patrick Joseph Terry v. Oklahoma, No. 18-8801, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 14 affirmed a Federal Claims Court ruling that federally reserved tribal water rights and compliance with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) did not result in the unconstitutional taking of water from Oregon and California farmers in 2001 when irrigation water deliveries were halted (Lonny E. Baley, et al. v. United States, et al., No. 18-1323 and 18-1325, Fed. Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 33930).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The nation’s water quality will suffer drastically if states waive their authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to issue water quality certificates for dams awaiting federal license renewal whenever requests for certification are not fulfilled in a year, as a federal circuit court ruled, two fishing groups argue in a Nov. 6 reply in support of their U.S. Supreme Court petition (California Trout, et al. v. Hoopa Valley Tribe, et al., No. 19-257, U.S. Sup.).
DENVER — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 8 declined to revisit its reversal of 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 v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 17-7042, 10th Cir.).