Mealey's Native American Law

  • December 04, 2020

    Lack Of Relief Bars Tribes’ Exclusivity Claims Over Card Games, Panel Rules

    SAN FRANCISCO — Three Indian tribes fail in their claim that California breached an exclusivity deal in their gaming compacts with the state by allowing nontribal entities to operate banked card games because the injunction they seek against the state is not available to them, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals determined Dec. 3 (Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, et al. v. Gavin Newsom, et al., No. 19-16384, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 37779).

  • December 03, 2020

    Federal Judge Dismisses Suit Over Alleged Sex Assault At Tribal Boarding School

    FARGO, N.D. — A grandfather’s failure to submit proof in the administrative process that he has the authority to bring claims on behalf of his grandson, who he says was sexually assaulted at a tribal school, dooms his suit against the United States alleging that the school was negligent, a North Dakota federal judge held Nov. 30 in adopting a magistrate judge’s recommendation (John Hennager v. United States, No. 19-00258, D. N.D., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 223334).

  • December 03, 2020

    Navajo Group: Fracking Income ‘Sole Lifeline’; Federal Permits Should Be Validated

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A group referred to as the Navajo Allottees, who are intervenors in a hydraulic fracturing permit lawsuit brought by environmental groups and a tribal entity against federal agencies and officials, on Nov. 9 filed a brief in New Mexico federal court stating that “income from oil and gas activity, including the permits challenged by Plaintiffs, is the sole lifeline for many Navajo Allottees” and, therefore, they agree with the position taken by the government (Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 19-703, D. N.M.).

  • December 02, 2020

    Judge: Tribe Not Needed In Manager’s Suit Over Casino Operating In Pandemic

    SAN DIEGO — A California Indian tribe is not an indispensable party to an action by the former general manager of its casino, who says he was constructively discharged when the casino operators decided to reopen the casino during the COVID-19 pandemic, but one of the operators is not a proper party and is dismissed from the suit, a California federal judge held Dec. 1 (Darrell Pilant v. Caesars Enterprise Services, LLC, et al., No. 20-2043, S.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 224717).

  • December 02, 2020

    Michigan Governor Wins Judgment On Tribal Member’s Bias Claims

    DETROIT — A tribal member in Michigan cannot pursue civil rights and discrimination claims against the governor under treaties from the 1800s supposedly signed by his ancestors because the treaties do not grant him individual rights, he failed to show that there is a contractual relationship with the governor and he did not sufficiently allege intentional race discrimination, a federal judge ruled Nov. 24 in adopting a magistrate judge’s recommendation (Bruce J. Hall v. Gretchen Whitmer, et al., No. 19-11909, E.D. Mich., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 220029).

  • December 01, 2020

    9th Circuit:  Man Fails To Prove He Was Targeted By Police Because He’s An Indian

    SEATTLE — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 27 affirmed a trial court’s grant of judgment to a Spokane, Wash., police detective and county prosecutor on a man’s claims that he was arrested for forging a court order without cause and was targeted by law enforcement because he is Native American (Quanah M. Spencer v. Spokane, et al., No. 19-36054, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 37359).

  • November 30, 2020

    D.C. Circuit Speeds Appeal But Refuses To Stop Work On Wall Over Indian Relics

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — While a District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Nov. 23 expedited an appeal by Native American tribes challenging work being done on the U.S.-Mexico border wall, it denied their emergency request to halt the work pending the appeal over the dissent of one judge, who said “irreparable harm has been shown and is occurring” to the tribes’ artifacts and burial sites (Manzanita Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, et al. v. Chad F. Wolf, et al., No. 20-5333, D.C. Cir.).

  • November 30, 2020

    2nd Circuit Upholds Denial Of Oneida Member’s Claim To Ownership Of Land

    NEW YORK — A New York federal court correctly found that the Oneida Indian Nation is the rightful owner of a 19-acre parcel of land that a tribal member had asserted ownership of by filing an invalid quitclaim deed for the property, a slightly divided Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel decided Nov. 24 (Oneida Indian Nation v. Melvin L. Phillips, Sr., et al., No. 19-2737, 2nd Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 36992).

  • November 20, 2020

    Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Dispute Over Tribal Police Jurisdiction

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court said Nov. 20 it will hear an appeal filed by the United States to decide whether an Indian police officer has jurisdiction to detain a non-Indian suspect on a public road on the reservation (United States v. Joshua James Cooley, No. 19-1414, U.S. Sup.).

  • November 20, 2020

    Lawmakers Back Native Alaska Corporations In Bid For CARES Act Funds

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Alaska’s congressional delegation filed an amicus curiae brief Nov. 18 in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Alaska Native corporations (ANCs) in their battle to receive a $162.3 million share of COVID-19 emergency federal relief funding, saying the state’s indigenous people “will suffer severe negative consequences because of the continued withholding” of the funding over a misreading of the term “Indian tribes” (Steven T. Mnuchin v. Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation, et al., No. 20-543, Alaska Native Village Corporation Association, Inc., et al. v. Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation, et al., No. 20-544, U.S. Sup.).

  • November 19, 2020

    10th Circuit:  Reasons Needed For Jail Term Of Indian Woman Guilty Of Child Neglect

    DENVER — Although a Native American woman who pleaded guilty to neglecting her 9-year-old daughter, resulting in her death, is correct that there are no equivalent federal sentencing guidelines for her crime, she is not entitled to a sentence of time served but instead must be resentenced by the trial judge, who failed to give detailed reasons for her seven-year prison term, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Nov. 17 (United States v. Jessica Jean Clark, No. 19-7046, 10th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 36067).

  • November 17, 2020

    Elderly Sex Assault Inmate Loses Bid For Early Release Due To Pandemic

    ABERDEEN, S.D. — A 74-year-old Native American with a long history of sexually molesting teenage girls, including his granddaughter and stepdaughter, is not entitled to a compassionate release from prison due to the rapidly expanding COVID-19 pandemic because he is still a danger to society and will be safer in custody than in home confinement in South Dakota, which has the second highest per capita cases of the disease in the country, a federal judge in that state ruled Nov. 13 (United States v. William T. Carter, No. 03-cr-30041, D. S.D., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 214129).

  • November 17, 2020

    Texas Tribe, Tribal Groups Urge High Court To Review Ruling Barring Gaming

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court wants to hear what Texas has to say about an Indian tribe’s challenge to denial of its right to conduct gaming on its lands, asking for a response to the tribe’s petition for certiorari and on Nov. 13 giving the state more time to file its opposition brief (Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo, et al. v. Texas, No. 20-493, U.S. Sup.).

  • November 16, 2020

    Judge Says BIA Must Take California Land Into Trust For Tribe’s Rancheria

    SAN FRANCISCO — A California federal judge on Nov. 13 granted a request by an Indian tribe to direct the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to take the tribe’s restored reservation lands into trust pursuant to a 1983 stipulated judgment (Tillie Hardwick, et al. v. United States, et al., No. 79-1710, N.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 212890).

  • November 13, 2020

    Judge Dismisses Widow’s Suit Against Tribe For Invalidating Will, Taking Home

    ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Tribal sovereign immunity blocks a widow’s claims that a North Carolina tribe illegally voided the will of her husband, a former tribal official, in order to take his home and evict her, a federal judge held Nov. 11 in dismissing her suit against the tribe for lack of jurisdiction (April Ledford v. Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, No. 20-5, W.D. N.C., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 211888).

  • November 13, 2020

    Sex Assaulter Of Tribal Children Loses Bid To Have 45-Year Sentenced Tossed

    ABERDEEN, S.D. — A South Dakota federal judge on Nov. 9 refused to vacate a man’s convictions for sexually assaulting children after finding in part that the man failed to show that he was prejudiced by his counsel recommending that he stipulate to the Indian status of the victims and that the crimes occurred in Indian country (Dashown Raymond Keys v. United States, No. 20-1013, D. S.D., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 210905).

  • November 11, 2020

    10th Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Worker’s Bias Suit Against Tribal School Business

    DENVER — A former employee of a tribal school nonprofit business cannot pursue pregnancy discrimination claims because the business meets the definition of “Indian tribe” for purposes of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), creating a lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Nov. 10 (Kim R. Jim v. Shiprock Associated Schools, Inc., No. 19-2100, 10th Cir.).

  • November 10, 2020

    Oregon, United States, Tribe, Utility Oppose Mandamus In Klamath River Adjudication

    SALEM, Ore. — The state of Oregon, the United States, a Native American tribe and an electric utility on Oct. 20 filed briefs opposing a mandamus petition by 45 water rights holders asking the Oregon Supreme Court to direct an adjudication court to comply with state civil and evidentiary law regarding the Klamath River Basin (In Re Waters of the Klamath River Basin, No. S067998, Ore. Sup.).

  • November 10, 2020

    Magistrate Judge Refuses To Halt Wrongful Firing Case Against Tribal Care Facility

    BILLINGS, Mont. — A Montana federal magistrate judge on Nov. 9 denied a motion by the individual operators of a Native American nursing home to stay a former employee’s wrongful termination lawsuit, finding that the U.S. government has had enough time to act on the defendants’ request to issue a certification so the United States can step in as the defendant (Tammy Wilhite v. Paul Littlelight, et al., No. 19-20, D. Mont., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 209363).

  • November 09, 2020

    Navajo Nation Youth Sex Offender Loses Appeal Over Treatment Center Choice

    SAN FRANCISCO — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Nov. 6 mostly affirmed a federal court’s placement in a residential treatment facility of a Navajo Nation boy convicted of sexual assault, finding no abuse of discretion in the court’s choice of a facility (United States v. Q.J., Jr., No. 19-10330, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 35124).

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