Mealey's Native American Law

  • June 21, 2019

    Ruling On Assault Victim’s Indian Status Affirmed By 9th Circuit Panel

    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).

  • June 21, 2019

    South Dakota Supreme Court Says Ex-Employee’s Case Against Tribal School Preempted

    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.).

  • June 21, 2019

    Martha’s Vineyard Tribe Can Conduct Gaming, But Building Permits Required

    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.).

  • June 18, 2019

    9th Circuit Appeal Stayed For Decision In Fight Against Tribe’s Election

    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.).

  • June 18, 2019

    Federal Judge Says Government Owes Tribes For Mismanaging Funds

    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.).

  • June 18, 2019

    Response Sought To Tribe’s Bid To Restore Indian Burial Ground At Casino

    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.).

  • June 17, 2019

    Court Decides Double Jeopardy Case; Indian Woman’s Petition Awaits

    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.).

  • June 17, 2019

    Tribal Police Officers Denied Certiorari For Civil Rights Claims Against County

    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.).

  • June 14, 2019

    Opioid MDL Judge OKs Tribes’ Claims Except For Negligence Per Se

    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.).

  • June 14, 2019

    Groups File Briefs Supporting Fracking Company In Federal Lease Dispute

    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.).

  • June 13, 2019

    Errors Led To Dismissal Of Tribal Council’s Land Claims, Federal Circuit Told

    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.).

  • June 13, 2019

    Pipeline Appeals Mooted By Trump’s Issuance Of Permit, 9th Circuit Rules

    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).

  • June 10, 2019

    High Court Rejects Petition Over $8.25 Million Award To Tribe For CERCLA Costs

    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.).

  • June 10, 2019

    Justices Deny Cert For Tribal Tobacco Company’s Challenge To Taxation

    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.).

  • June 10, 2019

    Washington Couples’ Tax Row With Tribes Will Not Get Supreme Court Review

    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.).

  • June 07, 2019

    Parties Say United States’ GVR Proposal For Tribe’s Tort Case Should Be Rejected

    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.).

  • June 07, 2019

    Fracking Company: Agency’s Lease Cancellation ‘Built Upon False Premises’

    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.).

  • June 06, 2019

    Residents’ Suit Against Tribe’s Land Acquisition Mooted When Approvals Yanked

    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).

  • June 05, 2019

    Governments, Tribes Seek Settlement OK For Restoration Of Washington Bay

    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.).

  • May 31, 2019

    Tribe:  Trump Administration Violated Federal Law With Fracking Permit Approval

    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.).

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