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Mealey's Native American Law

  • December 21, 2018

    Judge Tosses Excessive Force Claims Against Indian Officers For Casino Arrest

    UTICA, N.Y. — Two police officers for a Native American tribe did not use excessive force when subduing and arresting a casino patron who was running away from them, a New York federal judge ruled Dec. 18 in awarding the officers summary judgment on the patron’s civil rights claims (Craig Alexander v. Robert Nolan, et al., No. 6:17-cv-0725, N.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 212595).

  • December 20, 2018

    9th Circuit Awards Tribal Faction Attorney Fees, Though Less Than Requested

    SEATTLE — The faction of the Nooksack Indian Tribe battling disenrollment from the tribe deserves more than $90,000 in attorney fees for its defense of an appeal by the rival faction that was voluntarily dismissed, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decided Dec. 13 (Margretty Rabang, et al. v. Robert Kelly, Jr., et al., No. 17-35427, 9th Cir.).

  • December 19, 2018

    10th Circuit Denies Rehearing, Awards Tribal Landowners Attorney Fees

    DENVER — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 17 declined to rehear its decision that a natural gas company cannot condemn a piece of land in Oklahoma for a pipeline easement because an Indian tribe’s undivided ownership interest in the property makes it tribal land protected by sovereign immunity.  The next day, the court said the tribal landowners are entitled to an award of attorney fees for winning the appeal (Enable Oklahoma Intrastate Transmission, LLC v. 25 Foot Wide Easement, et al., No. 17-6188, 10th Cir.).

  • December 17, 2018

    Case Law Supports Crow Tribe’s Treaty Rights, Hunter Tells Justices

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court should heed the advice of the solicitor general and rule in favor the Crow Indian tribe’s hunting rights in Wyoming because the case the state relies on in its issue preclusion argument has been supplanted by Supreme Court precedent, a tribal elk hunter tells the justices in a Dec. 13 brief (Clayvin B. Herrera v. Wyoming, No. 17-532, U.S. Sup.).

  • December 17, 2018

    10th Circuit Snuffs Tribe’s Bid For Injunction To Halt Other Tribe’s Casino

    DENVER — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 14 affirmed the denial of an injunction sought by an Oklahoma Indian tribe to prevent another tribe from operating a casino after finding that the opposing tribe “is clearly unlikely to prevail on the merits” of its challenges to the federal government’s approvals for the casino (Comanche Nation of Oklahoma v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 17-6247, 10th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 35174).

  • December 14, 2018

    Indian Status Of Sex Assault Victim To Be Determined At Trial

    ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The federal government can present evidence at trial of a girl’s Indian status in a sexual assault case, and her lack of enrollment in a tribe “at the time the offenses allegedly occurred is not dispositive of that issue,” a North Carolina federal judge ruled Dec. 12 in denying the accused’s motion to dismiss the indictment against him (United States v. Arlen Flores, No. 1:18-cr-00102, W.D. N.C., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 209200).

  • December 14, 2018

    9th Circuit Backs Finding That Small Faction Of Tribe Cannot Be Recognized

    SAN FRANCISCO — The federal government properly found 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 leadership of the tribal government, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Dec. 11 (California Valley Miwok Tribe, et al. v. Ryan K. Zinke, et al., No. 17-16321, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 34800).

  • December 12, 2018

    D.C. Circuit Rebuffs Rehearing Bid By Member Of Indian Settlement Class

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 10 denied a request by an imprisoned member of a settlement class of Native Americans to reconsider its decision to dismiss his claims seeking release of his settlement funds by the prison as moot since the prison had since released the money to him (Elouise Pepion Cobell, et al. v. Ryan Zinke, et al., Nos. 17-5111 and 17-5125, D.C. Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 34668).

  • December 12, 2018

    United States Drops Appeals In Klamath River Cases Brought By 2 Tribes

    SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service on Nov. 20 voluntarily dismissed 12 appeals of a federal district court judgment in favor of two Native American tribes over the release of water into the Klamath River (Yurok Tribe, et al. v. United States Bureau of Reclamation, et al., and Hoopa Valley Tribe v. United States Bureau of Reclamation, et al., Nos. 17-15676, et al., 9th Cir.).

  • December 12, 2018

    10th Circuit Clarifies Water Adjudication Ruling; En Banc Rehearing Denied

    DENVER — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 9 clarified language in its August ruling in a New Mexico water adjudication but did not change the outcome of its decision (New Mexico, ex rel. State Engineer, et al. v. Nansy Carson, et al., No. 17-2147, 10th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 32161).

  • December 11, 2018

    Opponents Of Indian Casino Tell Justices Project Will Harm Surrounding Community

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — An Indian tribe’s California casino should not have been approved because of the harm it will cause the surrounding community, and the federal government violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in comparing those harms to casino benefits, opponents of the casino tell the U.S. Supreme Court in a Dec. 10 reply brief (Stand Up For California!, et al. v. U.S. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 18-61, U.S. Sup., 2018 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 4748).

  • December 10, 2018

    Claim Preclusion Bars Florida Tribe’s Utility Tax Battle, 11th Circuit Says

    ATLANTA — The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 7 affirmed a federal court’s dismissal of a Florida Indian tribe’s latest bid to avoid paying the state’s utility tax, agreeing that the tribe’s action is barred by previous rulings under the doctrine of claim preclusion (Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Leon Biegalski, No. 18-12094, 11th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 34518).

  • December 10, 2018

    Indian Tribes: Amici Should Be Allowed To File Briefs In National Monuments Cases

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Five Native American tribes on Nov. 30 filed a joint brief in a District of Columbia federal court contending that it should allow multiple parties to file amicus curiae briefs in consolidated lawsuits brought by the Hopi Tribe and environmental groups against the Trump administration for the president’s decision to reduce the size of two national monuments, which the plaintiffs say was done to open the land for hydraulic fracturing activities (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]).

  • December 7, 2018

    8th Circuit Denies Tribes’ Rehearing Bid In Suit Over South Dakota Child Services

    ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 4 declined to revisit its decision to send Indian tribes’ and members’ civil rights claims over South Dakota’s child welfare process to state court for resolution (Oglala Sioux Tribe, et al. v. Lisa Fleming, et al., Nos. 17-1135, 17-1136, 17-1137, 8th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 34237).

  • December 6, 2018

    Pipeline Opponents Now Battling Bid To Continue Preconstruction Work

    GREAT FALLS, Mont. — A Montana federal judge should reject a request by the Keystone XL pipeline developers to amend his order shutting down the project to allow them to continue preconstruction activities because they would cause harm and affect the court-directed federal review process, a Native American group and environmentalists told the judge Dec. 5 (Indigenous Environmental Network, et al. v. U.S. Department of State, et al., No. 4:17-cv-29, D. Mont.).

  • December 6, 2018

    Federal Government: Oklahoma Tribe’s Mineral Rights Dispute Is Not Cert Worthy

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Certiorari is not warranted to decide whether a wind farm developer interfered with an Oklahoma Indian tribe’s mineral rights during excavation work for windmill foundations because the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals properly defined the term “mining” in ruling against the developer, the federal government argues in a Dec. 4 U.S. Supreme Court amicus curiae brief (Osage Wind, LLC, et al. v. United States, et al., No. 17-1237, U.S. Sup.).

  • December 6, 2018

    No Review Needed In Tribal Remedy Exhaustion Dispute, Government Says

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The is no conflict among the courts about tribal remedy exhaustion, and possibly not even a final judgment in the case at hand, so there is no need for the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the circumstances in which state courts should defer in favor of tribal court proceedings, the U.S. government tells the high court in a Dec. 4 requested amicus curiae brief (Ryan Harvey, et al. v. Ute Indian Tribe of Uintah and Ouray Reservation, et al., No. 17-1301, U.S. Sup.).

  • December 5, 2018

    Businessman Sues BIA Over Lease To Mine On Indian Land

    BISMARCK, N.D. — The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) erred in finding that a businessman trespassed on Indian land by mining gravel and other minerals without a valid lease from the tribal owner of the property, the businessman says in a Nov. 28 complaint filed in North Dakota federal court (Gary Grenier v. U.S. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 3:18-cv-00247, D. N.D.).

  • December 5, 2018

    Injury Suit Against Tribe, Officer Sent Back To Florida State Court

    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A Florida federal judge on Dec. 4 remanded a personal injury action against an Indian tribe and a tribal policeman to state court after finding that the tribe and officer failed to establish federal jurisdiction (Edgar Perea v. Seminole Tribe of Florida, et al., No. 18-62136, S.D. Fla., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 204553).

  • December 5, 2018

    Justices Want More Information In Indian Reservation Case

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A week after hearing arguments in a criminal jurisdiction dispute that hinges on the present-day size of an Indian tribe’s reservation, the U.S. Supreme Court justices on Dec. 4 told the parties, the U.S. government and the tribe to file supplemental briefs on two questions (Mike Carpenter v. Patrick Dwayne Murphy, No. 17-1107, U.S. Sup., 2018 U.S. LEXIS 7153).