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Mealey's Native American Law

  • August 13, 2018

    Nebraska Federal Magistrate Judge: No Stay In Tribal Cigarette Tax Lawsuit

    OMAHA, Neb. — Efforts by the federal government to wade into a dispute between the Winnebago Tribe and Nebraska state officials over regulation of tribal cigarette sales were unsuccessful on Aug. 2, when a Nebraska federal magistrate judge rejected a motion by the U.S. Department of Justice to intervene in and stay the case based upon an ongoing criminal investigation of the tribe’s tobacco operations (HCI Distribution Inc., et al., v. Douglas Peterson, et al., No. 18, D. Neb.).

  • August 10, 2018

    Florida Tribe’s Bid For Rehearing In Tax Row Rejected By 11th Circuit

    ATLANTA — The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 9 declined to revisit its decision that a Florida Indian tribe must pay federal taxes on millions of dollars in gaming revenue that it distributes per capita to tribal members (United States v. Sally Jim, et al., No. 16-17109, 11th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 22201).

  • August 10, 2018

    Tribal Lending Company Avoids Subpoena Through Sovereign Immunity

    ALEXANDRIA, La. — A lending company owned by a Louisiana Indian tribe is protected by the tribe’s sovereign immunity from a subpoena served by another loan company battling predatory lending practice allegations leveled by Pennsylvania, a federal magistrate judge held Aug. 8 in quashing the subpoena (Pennsylvania v. Think Finance, Inc., et al., No. 1:18-mc-0024, W.D. La., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133990).

  • August 9, 2018

    Man’s Petition For Indian Status Fails For Lack Of Actual Dispute

    HAGATNA, Guam — A Colorado resident seeking Indian status for himself and approval of the United Cherokee Nation as a federally recognized Indian tribe does not present a case or controversy, so his declaratory judgment request fails, a federal judge in Guam ruled Aug. 7 (In re:  Robert Scott Gray Wolf Pokras, No. 1:16-mc-00016, D. Guam, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133088).

  • August 8, 2018

    9th Circuit Will Not Reconsider NLRB Jurisdiction Over Indian Casinos

    PASADENA, Calif. — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ ruling that the National Labor Relations Board reasonably found that an Indian tribe violated the law by disciplining workers for handing out union flyers stands after the court on Aug. 7 denied the tribe’s petition for rehearing en banc (Casino Pauma v. National Labor Relations Board, et al., National Labor Relations Board v. Casino Pauma, Nos. 16-70397, 16-70756, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 21974).

  • August 7, 2018

    Nebraska High Court Affirms In Interest Dispute Of Indian Law Attorneys

    LINCOLN, Neb. — A national law firm specializing in Native American law did not breach a contract with a former equity partner, and a trial court correctly determined that the former partner’s interest in the firm was $590,000 when he left, about 12 percent of what he sought, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled Aug. 3 (Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP v. Fred Assam, No. S-16-855, Neb. Sup.).

  • August 6, 2018

    With Adoptions Final, Parents’ Attack On ICWA Moot, 9th Circuit Holds

    SAN FRANCISCO — Parents of Native American children whose parental rights have been terminated can no longer challenge the legality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) because the adoptions of all children involved in the parents’ class action have been finalized, rendering the dispute moot, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Aug. 6 (Carol Coghlan Carter, et al. v. John Tahsuda, et al., No. 17-15839, 9th Cir.).

  • August 6, 2018

    9th Circuit Keeps California Tribe’s Online Bingo Operation Shut Down

    SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 2 agreed with California and the United States that an Indian tribe’s online bingo operation violates the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) because such gaming is illegal in California, where the bingo customers were located (State of California, et al. v. Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel, et al., No. 17-55150, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 21446).

  • August 6, 2018

    Tribes Say Cert Not Warranted For Ruling On Their Hunting, Fishing Rights

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court need not review a finding that two Washington Indian tribes have the right to hunt whales and seals on their traditional hunting grounds in the Pacific Ocean because this “fact-specific” decision does “not satisfy the criteria for certiorari,” the tribes argue in a July 25 response brief (Makah Indian Tribe, et al. v. Quileute Indian Tribe, et al., No. 17-1592, U.S. Sup.).

  • August 3, 2018

    Federal Government Says Auto Dealers’ Fraud Aimed At Native Americans

    PRESCOTT, Ariz. — The Federal Trade Commission sued four related car dealerships July 31 in Arizona federal court, accusing them of targeting members of the Navajo Nation for deceptive sales practices that included lying about customers’ income to obtain vehicle financing (Federal Trade Commission v. Tate’s Auto Center Of Winslow, Inc., et al., No. 3:18-cv-08176, D. Ariz.).

  • August 2, 2018

    United States Agrees That Ruling Expanding Reservation Must Be Reversed

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals got it wrong when it found that Oklahoma lacked jurisdiction over a murder because it occurred on a present-day Indian reservation, demanding reversal by the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. government tells the high court justices in a July 30 amicus curiae brief (Mike Carpenter v. Patrick Dwayne Murphy, No. 17-1107, U.S. Sup.).

  • August 1, 2018

    With New Tribal Council Recognized, Judge Dismisses Disenrollment Lawsuit

    SEATTLE — A Washington federal judge on July 31 left it to an Indian tribe to decide if its leaders illegally tried to disenroll hundreds of members from the tribe, saying that with the federal government’s recognition of the newly elected tribal council, he no longer has jurisdiction to hear the dispute (Margretty Rabang, et al. v. Robert Kelly, Jr., et al., No. 17-0088, W.D. Wash., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128056).

  • August 1, 2018

    Circuit Split Over HUD Funding Merits High Court Review, Tribal Petitioners Argue

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two rulings by different federal appeals courts create a conflict about the repayment of federal housing money to Indian tribes that must be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court, tribes and their housing agencies tell the high court in a July 31 reply brief supporting their bid for certiorari (Fort Peck Housing Authority, et al. v. United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, et al., No. 17-1353, Lummi Tribe of the Lummi Reservation, et al. v. United States, No. 17-1419, U.S. Sup.).

  • July 31, 2018

    Reservation Size Ruling Will Have Disastrous Effects, Justices Told

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — An appellate court ruling that Congress never reduced the size of an Indian reservation must be vacated because affirmance “would plunge eastern Oklahoma into civil, criminal, and regulatory turmoil,” a prison warden in a convicted murderer’s habeas action told the U.S. Supreme Court July 23 in the opening salvo of merits briefing (Mike Carpenter v. Patrick Dwayne Murphy, No. 17-1107, U.S. Sup.).

  • July 30, 2018

    RICO Action Belongs In Federal Court, Not Tribal Court, Judge Rules

    BILLINGS, Mont. — A federal court, rather than a tribal court, is the proper venue for a woman’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act suit against a tribal health care center over her firing by the center, a U.S. judge in Montana found July 26 in rebuffing the tribal defendants’ motion to dismiss (Tammy Wilhite v. Awe Kualawaache Care Center, et al., No. 1:18-cv-80, D. Mont., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125383).

  • July 26, 2018

    Western Mono Tribe Challenges Tobacco Taxes, Regulations In Complaint

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Efforts by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to enforce various state laws implementing the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) on a federally chartered corporation owned by the Big Sandy Rancheria Band of Western Mono Indians were challenged by the tribe in a July 13 complaint (Big Sandy Rancheria Enterprises v. Xavier Becerra., No. 18-1188, E.D. Calif.).

  • July 25, 2018

    10th Circuit Sends Tort Suit Against Navajo Casino To Tribal Court Under IGRA

    DENVER — A couple’s slip-and-fall action against an Indian casino must be heard in tribal court because the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) does not authorize the transfer of jurisdiction to state courts for such tort claims, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held July 24 (Navajo Nation, et al. v. The Honorable Bradford J. Dalley, et al., No. 16-2205, 10th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 20493).

  • July 24, 2018

    Inmate’s Smudging Ceremony Complaint Assessed By Connecticut Federal Judge

    NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Allegations by a Native American inmate that a Connecticut prison denied him proper winter attire for outdoor “smudging” ceremonies were partly dismissed July 5 by a Connecticut federal judge (Edison Vidro v. Scott Erfe, et al., No. 18-567, D. Conn., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111750).

  • July 23, 2018

    Panel Remands, Says Agency Violated Law When It Granted License For Uranium Mine

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A panel of the District of Columbia  Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 20 ruled that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission did not comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when it approved a license for a uranium mine, and it remanded the matter to the NRC for further proceedings consistent with NEPA in response to an Indian tribe’s concerns over groundwater contamination (Oglala Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, et al., No. 17-1059, D.C. Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 20215).

  • July 23, 2018

    Inmate Gets OK To File 2nd Complaint Over Tobacco Ban

    ST. LOUIS — In a July 20 order, a Missouri federal judge found that “numerous defects” render a plaintiff unlikely to succeed on his claim that the rights of Native American inmates were violated when the Missouri Department of Corrections instituted a policy prohibiting tobacco (Scotty McCracken, et al., v. Chantay Godert, et al., No. 18-35, E.D. Mo., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121480).