Mealey's Native American Law

  • February 07, 2020

    Claims That Son Died Due To Navajo Police Inaction Plausibly Stated, Judge Says

    PHOENIX — There are sufficient allegations to survive a motion to dismiss a mother’s claims that an Indian police department’s lack of response to calls for help caused the death of her son, an Arizona federal judge determined Feb. 5 (Ruby Charley v. United States, No. 19-08239, D. Ariz., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18767).

  • February 07, 2020

    Congress Never Made Reservation Smaller, Criminal Defendant Argues

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — It is clear from a lack of action by Congress that the boundaries of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation have never been reduced over the years, such that Oklahoma doesn’t have jurisdiction to prosecute a tribal member for sexual molestation of children, the member tells the U.S. Supreme Court in his Feb. 4 opening brief on the merits (Jimcy McGirt v. Oklahoma, No. 18-9526, U.S. Sup., 2020 U.S. S. CT. BRIEFS LEXIS 433).

  • February 06, 2020

    Tribe, Tribal Officials Take Adverse Immunity Ruling To High Court

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals holding that tribal sovereign immunity does not protect tribal officials from a casino development company’s fraud and racketeering claims warrants U.S. Supreme Court review because it goes against real-party-in-interest jurisprudence, a California tribe and its officials tell the high court in a Jan. 30 petition for certiorari (Angela James, et al. v. JW Gaming Development, LLC, No. 19-971, U.S. Sup., 2020 U.S. S. CT. BRIEFS LEXIS 404).

  • February 05, 2020

    Lack Of Standing Dooms Claims Over Tribes’ Water Rights In Oregon

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ranchers in Oregon cannot challenge two protocols governing tribal water rights in the Klamath Basin because they lack the standing, having failed to show that the protocols caused them harm, a federal judge determined Jan. 31 (Gerald H. Hawkins, et al. v. David L. Bernhardt, et al., No. 19-1498, D. D.C., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16626).

  • February 04, 2020

    Company’s Oyster Fishing Halted For Stepping On Tribe’s Treaty Rights

    SEATTLE — A Washington oyster company must temporarily halt all activities on certain shellfish beds until permanent injunctive relief is determined for its violations of an implementation plan for an Indian tribe’s treaty rights to harvest shellfish, a federal judge ruled Jan. 31 (United States, et al. v. Washington, et al., No. 2:70-cv-09213, subproceeding Skokomish Indian Tribe v. Gold Coast Oyster LLC, et al., No. 2:89-sp-312 [shellfish], W.D. Wash., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17026).

  • February 03, 2020

    South Dakota Agency Settles Claims It Discriminated Against Indian Job Seekers

    RAPID CITY, S.D. — The South Dakota Department of Social Services (DSS) will pay $350,000 in back pay and other monetary relief to 60 Native American job applicants under a settlement approved Jan. 30 by a South Dakota federal judge of claims by the United States that the DSS discriminated against Indian job seekers (United States v. South Dakota Department of Social Services, No. 5:15-cv-05079, W.D. S.D.).

  • February 03, 2020

    Supreme Court Asked To Decide Cherokee Land-Into-Trust Dispute

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court should reinstitute 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 says in a Jan. 23 petition for a writ of certiorari (The Cherokee Nation v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 19-937, U.S. Sup., 2020 U.S. S. CT. BRIEFS LEXIS 301).

  • January 31, 2020

    California Tribal Members Lose Once More On Appeal; Lawyer Sanctioned

    SAN DIEGO — A California appeals court on Jan. 29 again rebuffed attempts by tribal members to have them declared leaders of the tribe so it can receive gaming revenue funding from the state, finding that a 2014 ruling by the court bars the latest action and that the tribal members’ attorney must pay an $850 sanction for pursuing a frivolous appeal (California Valley Miwok Tribe, et al. v. California Gambling Control Commission, No. D074339, Calif. App., Dist. 4, Div. 1).

  • January 31, 2020

    Tribe:  Cert Not Warranted For Ruling That Traffic Stop Site Is Part Of Reservation

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — With no conflicts among the top courts on the issues and no issue of exceptional importance presented, U.S. Supreme Court guidance is not needed for a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals holding that a small section of California land where an Indian tribe says the local police are illegally ticketing and targeting Indian drivers is part of the tribe’s reservation, the tribe and several members say in a Jan. 30 response to a petition for certiorari (John McMahon, et al. v. Chemehuevi Indian Tribe, et al., No. 19-820, U.S. Sup.).

  • January 30, 2020

    California Tribe Sues 2 Water Districts, Says Water Fee Is Illegal

    RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians on Jan. 24 filed a declaratory action complaint against long-time legal foes Coachella Valley Water District and Desert Water Agency for imposing a water “replenishment assessment charge” (RAC) for water drawn from the tribe’s federally reserved groundwater (Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Coachella Valley Water District, et al., No. 20-174, C.D. Calif., Eastern Div.).

  • January 29, 2020

    Split 9th Circuit Strikes Down Voting Restrictions In Arizona As Discriminatory

    SAN FRANCISCO — The full Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in a divided Jan. 27 opinion found that two Republican-backed measures to combat alleged voter fraud in Arizona discriminate against Indian, Hispanic and black voters in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (The Democratic National Committee, et al. v. Katie Hobbs, et al., No. 18-15845, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 2470).

  • January 28, 2020

    9th Circuit Won’t Rehear Indian Police Jurisdiction Ruling After Split Vote

    SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 24 declined to rehear a panel decision upholding the suppression of evidence of drug dealing found on a non-Indian parked on a public road on a reservation, although several dissenting judges said review by the full court was warranted due to the case’s extraordinary importance (United States v. Joshua James Cooley, No. 17-30022, 9th Cir.).

  • January 28, 2020

    7th Circuit Blasts EPA For Not Answering Tribe’s Call For Permitting Review

    CHICAGO — A Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel chastised the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Jan. 27 for its “regulatory misdirection” when a Wisconsin Indian tribe sought help in protecting its sacred land from a mining operation, causing the tribe to file suit for which the panel affirmed dismissal for lack of a final agency action to challenge (Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 19-1130, 7th Cir.).

  • January 27, 2020

    Oklahoma Governor Looks To Shut Down Tribes’ Gaming Over Compact Row

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Three Indian tribes’ gaming compacts with Oklahoma did not renew automatically on Jan. 1 as the tribes contend, so a federal court should declare their ongoing casino-style gambling operations illegal and shut them down, the governor says in his Jan. 22 answer and counterclaims against the tribes (The Cherokee Nation, et al. v. J. Kevin Stitt, No. 19-1198, W.D. Okla.).

  • January 24, 2020

    Judge Rules Navajo Tribe May Not Add Intervenors In Federal Fracking Dispute

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A federal judge in New Mexico on Jan. 21 ruled that members of the Navajo Tribe are not permitted to add more mineral rights and landowners as intervenors in a lawsuit brought by environmental advocacy groups against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for the approval of hydraulic fracturing permits in the Mancos Shale Play (Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 19-703, D. N.M.).

  • January 23, 2020

    Judge:  Tribe, Officials Breached $5 Million Note For Unbuilt Casino

    SAN FRANCISCO — A casino development company earned judgment from a California federal judge on Jan. 21 on its claim that a Native American tribe breached a contract by failing to repay $5.3 million the company loaned the tribe to build a casino, which was never built (JW Gaming Development, LLC v. Angela James, et al., No. 3:18-cv-02669, N.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9883).

  • January 21, 2020

    Judge Denies Government’s Bid To Dismiss Tribe’s Trust Accounting Claims

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Cherokee Nation can proceed with its lawsuit seeking an accounting from the federal government of assets held in trust for the tribe in light of the allegations in the complaint and the United States’ history of mismanaging Indian trusts “for nearly as long as it has been trustee,” a District of Columbia federal judge said Jan. 15 (The Cherokee Nation v. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 1:19-cv-02154, D. D.C.).

  • January 16, 2020

    Woman Cannot Pursue Federal Civil Rights Claims Against Tribe, Judge Finds

    MINNEAPOLIS — A woman’s federal civil rights claims against a Minnesota Indian tribe’s governing body fail because the tribe is shielded from the suit by sovereign immunity and Congress has not waived immunity, a federal judge ruled Jan. 14 in adopting a magistrate judge’s recommendation and dismissing the woman’s complaint (Loretta-Lynn Begay Dobbs v. Fond du Lac Reservation Business Committee, No. 0:19-cv-01289, D. Minn.).

  • January 16, 2020

    Federal Circuit Says Man Has No Federal Claims Over Tribe’s Use Of Lake

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Court of Federal Claims correctly dismissed takings claims by a Washington state resident over the Quinault Indian Nation’s use of a lake in a national park, the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decided Jan. 10, agreeing that the Claims Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction (Thomas G. Landreth v. United States, No. 19-2260, Fed. Cir.).

  • January 15, 2020

    Judge: Government Violated APA In Banning Re-Petitioning For Tribal Recognition

    TACOMA, Wash. — The Department of the Interior’s 2015 decision to not allow Native American tribes that have been denied federal recognition to re-petition for the status is arbitrary and capricious, in violation of federal law, a Washington state federal judge held Jan. 10 (Chinook Indian Nation, et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 3:17-cv-5668, W.D. Wash.).

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