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Mealey's Native American Law

  • February 11, 2019

    Utah County: Intervenors In Monuments Case Should Be Allowed To File Reply Brief

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — San Juan County, Utah, which is an intervenor in the consolidated litigation brought by Native American tribes against the Trump administration regarding its decision to reduce the size of two national monuments, on Jan. 29 filed a brief in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia contending that the court should approve the county’s proposed briefing schedule (Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2591, The Wilderness Society, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2587, D. D.C., Hopi Tribe, et al. v. Donald Trump, et al., No. 17-2590, D. D.C. [consolidated]).

  • February 8, 2019

    Judge Finds No Jurisdiction For False Arrest Claims Against Tribal Casino

    CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. — A couple’s false arrest and racial profiling claims against an Indian casino fail for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because Indian tribes are sovereign entities not subject to constitutional tort allegations, a New York federal judge ruled Feb. 7 in dismissing the couple’s complaint (Curtis Edwards, et al. v. Foxwoods Resort Casino, et al., No. 17-cv-05869, E.D. N.Y., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20115).

  • February 8, 2019

    Report: Utah Legislator Did Not Influence, Benefit From National Monument Reduction

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of the Interior (DOI) on Jan. 31 released a report in which it found that there was no evidence that a Utah state legislator who owns property along the border of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) influenced, or benefitted from, the Trump administration’s decision to reduce the size of the monument.

  • February 7, 2019

    Shellfish Farming Business Joins Tribe’s Suit Seeking To Revoke Federal Permit

    SEATTLE — A Washington federal judge on Feb. 6 allowed a commercial shellfish operation to intervene as a defendant in an Indian tribe’s lawsuit alleging that the federal government’s permitting process for farming shellfish in North Puget Sound fails to protect endangered native eelgrass beds (Swinomish Indian Tribal Community v. Army Corps of Engineers, et al., No. 2:18-cv-598, W.D. Wash., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19394).

  • February 6, 2019

    9th Circuit Rejects Rehearing Bid In Dispute Between Battling Tribal Groups

    SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 4 declined to rehear its ruling that the federal government correctly determined that a California Indian tribe’s reorganization effort was invalid, that its membership is not limited to five individuals in one faction and that the United States does not recognize the leadership of the tribal government (California Valley Miwok Tribe, et al. v. Ryan K. Zinke, et al., No. 17-16321, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 3468).

  • February 6, 2019

    Judge Transfers Tribe’s Fracking Permit Dispute To North Dakota Federal Court

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A District of Columbia federal judge on Feb. 5 sent an Indian tribe’s challenge to the federal government’s approvals of hydraulic fracturing wells on the tribe’s reservation to North Dakota federal court at the request of the drilling company, rejecting the tribe’s assertion that its choice of venue deserved “substantial deference” (Mandan Hidatsa and Arikara Nation v. U.S. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 18-1462, D. D.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17975).

  • February 6, 2019

    Navajo Supreme Court Allows Child Sex Claims Against Mormon Church To Continue

    WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The sovereignty of the Navajo Nation would be jeopardized by not allowing child sex abuse allegations against the Mormon Church to proceed in tribal court to at least produce a factual record, the Navajo Nation Supreme Court held Dec. 28 in denying a bid by the church to have the case dismissed (Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, et al. v. Window Rock District Court, et al., No. SC-CV-42-18, Navajo Nation Sup., 2018 Navajo Sup. LEXIS 5).

  • February 5, 2019

    Seminole Tribe Subject To Federal Conservation Laws, Judge Says In Gator Egg Case

    FORT MYERS, Fla. — While the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s hunting and fishing rights are not abrogated by two federal environmental laws, its right to sell alligator eggs is subject to “reasonable and necessary conservation measures” by the government, a federal judge decided Feb. 4 in denying a tribal member’s motion to dismiss a criminal action against him for selling thousands of alligator eggs (United States v. Jack W. Turtle, No. 2:18-cr-88, M.D. Fla., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17331).

  • February 4, 2019

    Judge Dismisses Federal Claims Against Oneida For Lack Of Jurisdiction

    GREEN BAY, Wis. — A Wisconsin federal judge on Jan. 31 dismissed an Oneida tribal member’s civil rights claims against the tribe’s business committee over her failed petition for tribal per capita payments, finding no federal jurisdiction or valid allegations for the claims (Gladys D. Dallas v. Tehassi Hill, et al., No. 18-C-1657, E.D. Wis., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15166).

  • February 4, 2019

    9th Circuit Upholds California’s Tax On Leased Indian Trust Lands

    PASADENA, Calif. — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 28 affirmed a California county’s collection of a state tax on U.S. trust lands leased by an Indian tribe after finding that the tax is not preempted by federal law (Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Riverside County, et al., No. 17-56003, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 2791).

  • February 4, 2019

    D.C. Circuit Slams FCC For Changes To Tribal Telecommunications Assistance

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Communications Commission trampled on federal law when it adopted rules in 2017 limiting Congress’ mandate to provide affordable broadband and telecommunications services to low-income Native Americans living on tribal land, the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Feb. 1 (National Lifeline Association, et al. v. Federal Communications Commission, et al., Nos. 18-1026, 18-1080, D.C. Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 3278).

  • February 1, 2019

    Improved Practices Needed In Administering Indian Programs, GAO Reports

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Department of the Interior needs to do a better job providing Native Americans with information on its tribal funding decisions and tracking how the funds are disbursed, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) said Jan. 29 in a Senate subcommittee report on tribal self-governance.

  • January 31, 2019

    Justices Petitioned In Tribal Tobacco Company’s Battle Against Federal Taxes

    WASHINGTON, D.C.  — Whether an Indian tobacco company must pay federal excise taxes on its products hinges on the interpretation of an 1855 treaty, which is the U.S. Supreme Court’s task in another case that awaits a decision, so the company’s petition for a writ of certiorari in its fight against a $57.9 million judgment against it should be held until the other case is decided, the company says in its petition, which was docketed Jan. 29 (King Mountain Tobacco Co., Inc. v. United States, No. 18-984, U.S. Sup.).

  • January 31, 2019

    Arizona Appeals Court Upholds Recognition Of Tribal Court’s Fee Award

    PHOENIX — An Arizona court did not abuse its discretion in recognizing a tribal court’s award of attorney fees to a tribe in a former casino worker’s losing suit against casino management over his firing, an Arizona appellate panel determined Jan. 22, saying the tribal court’s decision is entitled to comity by the state courts (Chemehuevi Indian Tribe, et al. v. Gregory F. Mullally, No. CV 18-0175, Ariz. App., Div. 1, 2019 Ariz. App. Unpub. LEXIS 72).

  • January 30, 2019

    Ute Tribe’s Bias Claims Against Utah Federal Judge Rejected By Court

    SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah federal judge on Jan. 24 denied the Ute Indian Tribe’s request to recuse another judge from a water rights case, rejecting the tribe’s claim that the judge “is heavily biased against both the Ute Tribe and the fundamental tenets of Federal Indian law and policy” (Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah & Ouray Reservation v. Gregory D. McKee, et al., No. 2:18-cv-314, D. Utah, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12472).

  • January 30, 2019

    Homeowners Ask Justices To Vacate Tribal Immunity Ruling In Land Use Row

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Three couples who own homes on a Washington Indian reservation turned to the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 24 seeking review of a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that the couples’ quiet title claims against the tribe are barred by the tribe’s sovereign immunity (Thomas Mitchell, et al. v. Tulalip Tribes of Washington, No. 18-970, U.S. Sup.).

  • January 30, 2019

    Native American Inmates Finally Win Right To Grow Long Hair For Religious Beliefs

    CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Three Texas inmates won their six-year fight to grow their hair long in prison based on their Native American religious beliefs when a federal judge on Jan. 24, on remand from the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, awarded them judgment on their Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) claims (Robbie Dow Goodman, et al. v. Lorie Davis, et al., No. 2:12-cv-166, S.D. Texas).

  • January 29, 2019

    Judge Awards Tribe Attorney Fees For Successful Suit Against Government

    RENO, Nev. — Finding no substantial justification for the way the federal government treated a Native American tribe in denying it federal recognition, a Nevada federal judge on Jan. 24 awarded the tribe more than $102,000 for its attorney fees (Winnemucca Indian Colony, et al. v. United States, et al., No. 3:11-cv-00622, D. Nev., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11309).

  • January 25, 2019

    9th Circuit: Tribal Sovereign Immunity Doesn’t Confer Federal Jurisdiction

    SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 22 vacated summary judgment in favor of a Native American tribe in a declaratory lawsuit against the state of Washington, saying that under the well-pleaded complaint rule, the tribe cannot use its claim to sovereign jurisdiction to create federal jurisdiction (Stillagumish Tribe of Indians v. Washington, et al., No. 17-35722, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 1943).

  • January 22, 2019

    10th Circuit Reverses; BLM Lacked Authority To Access Private Fracking Well

    DENVER — A panel of the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 18 reversed and remanded a hydraulic fracturing lease case, holding that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lacked the authority to require landowners to provide the agency with a key to a lease site on privately owned land (Maralex Resources Inc., et al. v. David Barnhardt, et al., No. 17-1421, 10th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 1705).