PRESCOTT, Ariz. — A federal jury on Oct. 16 found a former police officer for a Native American tribe guilty of sexually molesting a detainee while she was handcuffed in the back of his patrol car (United States v. Mackenzie Davis, No. 3:19-cr-8008, D. Ariz.).
SAN FRANCISCO — A California appeals court sent a child custody case back to juvenile court on Oct. 15 after finding that the state’s child welfare agency failed to follow the tribal notification process in the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) (Mendocino County Department of Health and Human Services v. Alissa C., et al., No. A156771, Calif. App., 1st Dist., Div. 3, 2019 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 6903).
ST. PAUL, Minn. — An Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel — though divided in a recent opinion on whether South Dakota’s excise tax on a building contractor for a Native American casino project is preempted by federal law — on Oct. 15 declined to revisit the case (Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe v. Josh Haeder, et al., No. 18-1271, 8th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 30764).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An Indian woman who is trying to get the estate of her late husband to pay child support has taken her fight against a tribal court ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court with an Aug. 27 petition for a writ of certiorari, which wasn’t docketed until Oct. 10 (Arietta J. Kurowski v. Estate of Kenneth H. Kurowski, No. 19-477, U.S. Sup.).
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A New York federal judge on Oct. 11 dismissed an employment discrimination suit filed by a former Indian casino employee at the recommendation of a magistrate judge for lack of subject matter jurisdiction (Lucinda A. Johnson v. Oneida Nation Enterprise, LLC, No. 5:19-cv-853, N.D. N.Y., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176808).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A challenge by residents and an advocacy group in California to the United States’ decision to take land into trust so an Indian tribe can build a casino at the site failed when a federal judge on Oct. 7 awarded the government and tribe summary judgment (Stand Up For California!, et al. v. U.S. Department of Interior, et al., No. 1:17-cv-00058, D. D.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 173441).
DENVER — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals vacated an injunction Sept. 5 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 after finding that the DOI properly approved the band’s trust application (The Cherokee Nation v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 17-7042, 10th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 26780).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A challenge by an Indian tribe and tribal housing authorities to a reduction in their federal housing block grant funding heads back to the trial court after the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 9 remanded a second time so the lower court can decide breach of contract claims (Lummi Tribe of the Lummi Reservation, et al. v. United States, No. 2018-1720, Fed. Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Twenty-one states filed an amicus curiae brief Sept. 27 in the U.S. Supreme Court to support two fishing groups battling a ruling in favor of an Indian tribe that Oregon and California’s authority to conduct water quality reviews for the federal licensing process for hydroelectric dams was waived by the dam operator’s yearly withdrawals and resubmissions for federal licensing renewal (California Trout, et al. v. Hoopa Valley Tribe, et al., No. 19-257, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 3572).
DENVER — Most of an Oklahoma tribe’s claims under federal laws in its challenge to another tribe’s construction of a history center are moot for lack of a remedy because the center was completed during the case, though a challenge to one part of the center that was not built is still possible, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Oct. 4 (Caddo Nation of Oklahoma v. Wichita and Affiliated Tribes, et al., No. 18-6142, 10th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 29925).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Nineteen U.S. senators from the American west on Sept. 16 sent a letter urging the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to withdraw a proposed rule governing the use of water from U.S. Army Corps of Engineer reservoir projects.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 7 denied certiorari for two South Dakota Indian tribes that say the state’s process for removing Native American children from their homes in emergency situations violates parents’ and children’s due process rights and the Indian Child Welfare Act (Oglala Sioux Tribe, et al. v. Lisa Fleming, et al., No. 18-1245, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO — U.S. Supreme Court review is not needed to decide if a California tribal court can hear the tribe’s fraud claims against its former administrator because a tribe’s jurisdiction over nonmembers has been decided already by the high court’s precedents, the tribe and its court and chief judge tell the Supreme Court in their Oct. 3 brief in opposition to certiorari (Duanna Knighton v. Cedarville Rancheria of Northern Paiute Indians, et al., No. 19-131, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO — Tribal sovereign immunity does not protect tribal officials from a casino development company’s fraud and racketeering claims because the officials, sued in their individual capacities, are the real parties in interest, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 2 in affirming denial of the officials’ dismissal bid (JW Gaming Development, LLC v. Angela James, et al., No. 18-17008, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 29613).
SEATTLE — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 30 affirmed a trial court’s boundary map, drawn on remand, in a long-running dispute among Washington state Indian tribes over the right to take whales and seals on their traditional fishing grounds in the Pacific Ocean (Makah Indian Tribe v. Quileute Indian Tribe, et al., No. 18-35369, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 29419).
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A Native American inmate fails on his claim that the confiscation of his religious devotional items was a violation of federal law because he did not prove that he was substantially burdened by the loss of the items, a Texas federal judge ruled Sept. 27 in awarding judgment to prison workers (David Hayman v. Medardo Villarreal, et al., No. 2:17-cv-307, S.D. Texas, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166607).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A New Mexico federal judge on Sept. 27 released a redacted version of a 530-page opinion finding that because a Native American tribe does not hold aboriginal title to the lands of a national preserve, the United States is entitled to quiet title to the preserve (Pueblo of Jemez v. United States, et al., No. 12-0800, D. N.M.).
PASADENA, Calif. — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 27 declined to revisit its decision that a small section of California land where a Native American tribe says the local police are illegally ticketing and targeting Indian drivers is part of the tribe’s reservation, so the officers lack jurisdiction to enforce the state’s traffic laws there (Chemehuevi Indian Tribe, et al. v. John McMahon, et al., No. 17-56791, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 29291).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A split among federal circuit courts and the U.S. Supreme Court on interpreting the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) has allowed one Indian tribe to open a gambling operation while preventing another tribe from doing the same, a Texas tribe tells the high court in its Sept. 23 bid for review of an injunction barring it from running a gambling business (Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas v. Texas, No. 19-403, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal judge in the District of Columbia on Sept. 9 granted summary judgment against a Washington state Native American tribe, finding that the tribe’s collection and expenditure of third-party revenues cannot be counted as part of the federal government’s reimbursement for Native American health care programs (Swinomish Indian Tribal Community v. Alex M. Azar, No. 18-1156, D. D.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152928).