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.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A malicious prosecution case filed by three tribal police officers who were arrested by a California county over a tribal faction dispute at the tribe’s casino will not get U.S. Supreme Court review after the high court justices denied their petition for certiorari June 17 (Ronald Jones, at al. v. Michael Keitz, et al., No. 18-1333, U.S. Sup.).
CLEVELAND — The Ohio federal judge overseeing the opioid multidistrict litigation on June 13 adopted almost all of a magistrate judge’s recommendations preserving the right of two Native American tribes to sue manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies (In Re: National Prescription Opioid Litigation, [Muscogee (Creek) Nation v. Purdue Pharma L.P., et al., No. 18-op-45749, and The Blackfeet Tribe of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation v. AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, et al., No. 18-op-45749], MDL Docket No. 2804, No. 17-md-2804, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Div.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a hydraulic fracturing industry trade group on June 12 filed separate amicus curiae briefs in the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, each contending that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) cancellation of a fracking lease issued to Solenex LLC was “arbitrary and capricious” (Solenex LLC v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 18-5345, D.C. Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal court misinterpreted the law when it dismissed claims by an Arizona tribal council that the United States breached its fiduciary and trust duties by failing to collect $30.4 million from a property owner that is owed to the council’s trust under the Arizona-Florida Land Exchange Act of 1988, the council says in its June 10 opening brief on appeal in the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. v. United States, No. 19-01758, Fed. Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 6 dismissed appeals of a judge’s decision to halt work on the Keystone XL Pipeline due in part to threats to Native Americans’ land and water, ruling that the challenges are now moot because President Donald Trump issued a new permit allowing pipeline construction to continue (Indigenous Environmental Network, et al. v. U.S. Department of State, et al., Nos. 18-36068, 18-36069, 19-35036, 19-35064, 19-35099, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 17095).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that an Indian tribe is entitled to recover more than $8.25 million in response costs from a Canadian industrial polluter stands after the U.S. Supreme Court on June 10 declined to review the case (Teck Metals Ltd. v. The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, et al., No. 18-1160, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An Indian tobacco company must pay federal excise taxes on its products, despite the language of an 1855 treaty, after the U.S. Supreme Court on June 10 denied the company’s petition for certiorari, letting stand a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision (King Mountain Tobacco Co., Inc. v. United States, No. 18-984, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on June 10 declined to review a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals holding that sovereign immunity protects Washington Indian tribes from three couples’ quiet title injunction lawsuit challenging the tribes’ land use and excise tax laws (Thomas Mitchell, et al. v. Tulalip Tribes of Washington, No. 18-970, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court should decline the federal government’s suggestion to grant review, vacate and remand an Alabama Supreme Court decision that an Indian tribe is not protected by tribal sovereign immunity from tort claims in a car crash negligence suit, but should grant certiorari instead to reverse the state court’s ruling, the tribe and its casino business argue in a June 5 supplemental brief (Poarch Band of Creek Indians, et al. v. Casey Marie Wilkes, et al., No. 17-1175, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A hydraulic fracturing company on June 5 filed a brief in the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) cancellation of a fracking lease was “built upon false premises and dangerously wide-sweeping assertions of ‘inherent’ agency authority” (Solenex LLC v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 18-5345, D.C. Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 3 dismissed an appeal at the request of the federal government after the Department of the Interior (DOI) vacated decisions to take 1,400 acres into trust for a California Indian tribe, mooting a challenge to the trust rulings by three California residents (Lewis P. Geyser, et al. v. United States, et al., No. 18-56288, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 16722).
SEATTLE — The United States, the state of Washington and Native American tribes filed a consent decree on June 3 in federal court to settle claims they brought in a complaint filed the same day for damages to natural resources from the release of oil and other hazardous substances into the Port Gardner Bay area in Everett, Wash. (United States, et al. v. Port of Everett, No. 2:19-cv-843, W.D. Wash.).
TULSA, Okla. — The Pawnee Nation on May 30 filed a brief in Oklahoma federal court contending that when the Trump administration approved permits for hydraulic fracturing on tribal land, it violated federal law by failing to address the impact of drilling on water pollution and did not assess the risk of earthquakes (Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 16-cv-697, N.D. Okla.).