Mealey's Native American Law

  • February 28, 2024

    5th Circuit: Prosecutor In Reservation Shooting Case Should Not Have Been Recused

    NEW ORLEANS — A federal trial court did not err in declining to recuse an assistant U.S. attorney for an alleged conflict of interest in a criminal trial arising from a shooting on an Indian reservation in Mississippi because the attorney’s previous representation of the defendant was not substantially related to the current case, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel found in affirming the defendant’s conviction and sentencing.

  • February 28, 2024

    Man Who Operated Illegal Tribal Casino Failed To Timely File Malpractice Claim

    CANTON, Ohio — A man who was arrested for illegally operating a tribal casino upon the advice of an attorney failed to timely file his legal malpractice claim within the applicable one-year statute of limitations because he should have been aware that the advice he received was incorrect when he was indicted, an Ohio panel found in affirming a trial court’s judgment.

  • February 28, 2024

    Tribe Asks Court To Enjoin Federal ‘Death Blow’ To Its Cigarette Sales

    RIVERSIDE, Calif. — A tribe filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in California federal court seeking to bar the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and other federal law enforcement officials and agencies from deeming it out of compliance with the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act, writing that such actions would “strike a death blow” to its business operations as an “on-reservation tribally-owned retailer.”

  • February 22, 2024

    Interior, Tribes, Water Users Agree To Cooperate On Klamath Basin Projects

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), the Klamath Tribes, the Yurok Tribe, the Karuk Tribe and the Klamath Water Users Association have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate and cooperate on water-related efforts in the Klamath Basin, according to an announcement by the DOI.

  • February 15, 2024

    HOA’s Covenants Don’t Attach To Tribal Land Taken Into Trust, Federal Judge Says

    GREEN BAY, Wis.— Restrictive covenants adopted by a homeowners association were preempted by federal law when several parcels of land within the association were purchased by a member of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and later transferred to the United States to be held in trust on behalf of the tribe, a Wisconsin federal judge found in dismissing the association’s action for judicial review.

  • February 14, 2024

    1st Circuit Decision On Tribal Trust Land Challenged In U.S. Supreme Court

    BOSTON — A group of Massachusetts residents have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals erred in finding that the U.S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI) decision to take into trust land owned by the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Tribe was not arbitrary or capricious or not in accordance with the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA).

  • February 14, 2024

    Citizen Group Challenges Approval Of Tribal Casino In U.S. Supreme Court

    SAN FRANCISCO — A citizen group filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court asking whether the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals erred in affirming a trial court judgment dismissing the group’s challenge to a Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) decision to approve the construction of a casino on land held in trust for the Ione Band of Miwok Indians.

  • February 13, 2024

    Florida Casinos Challenge Tribal Sports Gambling Pact In U.S. Supreme Court

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two casino operators have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals erred in finding that a gaming compact between Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida granting the tribe exclusive rights to offer sports betting services in the state was lawful.

  • February 13, 2024

    2 Tribes File Climate Change Claims In Washington State Court

    SEATTLE — The Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe and the Makah Indian Tribe of Washington, two federally recognized Indian tribes, have filed nearly identical complaints against several of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, alleging that the companies’ efforts to mislead the public about the dangers of fossil fuel products have accelerated the harmful effects of climate change, which have in turn damaged the tribes’ people and land.

  • February 08, 2024

    Tribal Telecom Company Is Entitled To Sovereign Immunity, Texas Federal Judge Says

    HOUSTON — A tribal telecommunications service provider is entitled to tribal sovereign immunity because it is connected enough to the Gila River Indian Community to be a considered an “arm of the tribe,” a Texas federal judge found in granting the service provider’s motion to dismiss claims brought against it by a software developer that worked with the service provider and says it has not been paid for months.

  • February 07, 2024

    Washington Federal Judge: Cultural Resource Damages Not Available Under CERCLA

    SPOKANE, Wash. — The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation are not entitled to cultural resource damages arising from a smelter’s alleged disposal of millions of tons of toxic slag and liquid effluent into the Columbia River because such damages are not available under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, a Washington federal judge found in granting the smelter’s motion for partial summary judgment on Feb. 6.

  • February 07, 2024

    Attorneys Debate Authority, Consideration Of Options In Willow Project Approval

    SAN FRANCISCO — Attorneys for environmental groups and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) debated before the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals regarding whether the BLM’s approval of the Willow Project, a hydraulic fracturing operation in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, violated the agency’s obligations under federal law.  The attorney representing the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) said the BLM is “supposed to look before they leap.”

  • February 07, 2024

    N.Y. Federal Judge Dismisses Native American Man’s Discriminatory Housing Claims

    BUFFALO, N.Y. — A Native American man who says he was evicted from a housing unit because of his identity failed to allege that his landlord acted with any kind of discriminatory intent in his original complaint or his motion to amend, a New York federal judge held in adopting a magistrate judge’s report and recommendation to grant the landlord’s motion for judgment on the pleadings.

  • February 07, 2024

    In Gold King Mine Case, Contractor Is Granted Summary Judgment On Negligence Claims

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A government contractor is entitled to summary judgment on claims of negligence and gross negligence brought against it for its involvement in the Gold King Mine release, which damaged waterways and land in several states, because the contractor owed no duty to New Mexico, the Navajo Nation or citizen plaintiffs under theories of misfeasance or nonfeasance, a New Mexico federal judge found in granting the contractor’s motion for partial summary judgment.

  • February 06, 2024

    3 Complaints Filed Against California’s Delta Water Conveyance Project

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Three lawsuits were filed by a water district, environmental groups and a Native American tribe asking a California state court to set aside state approval for the Delta Conveyance Project and to order the California Department of Water Resources (CDWR) to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in evaluating the environmental impact of the planned water project in the state’s Delta region.

  • February 06, 2024

    Tribal Supreme Court: Criminal Jurisdiction Extends To Potential Tribe Members

    OKMULGEE, Okla. — In reversing a trial court’s decision to dismiss a criminal case for lack of jurisdiction, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Supreme Court ruled that the definition of “Indian” for the purposes of tribal criminal jurisdiction under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2022 (VAWA 2022) includes not only tribal members but also individuals who are eligible for membership in any federally recognized Indian tribe.

  • February 06, 2024

    Tribal Supreme Court Says Trial Court Did Not Err By Letting Man Withdraw Plea

    OKMULGEE, Okla. — The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Supreme Court found that a tribal trial court did not err in allowing a man to withdraw his criminal plea despite filing his motion to withdraw after he had already been sentenced because the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Code allows judges to do so to correct a manifest injustice.

  • February 02, 2024

    Mich. Panel: United States Is Necessary Party In Property Dispute Involving Tribes

    DETROIT — State courts lack jurisdiction to hear two property owners’ claims to quiet title because the United States, as trustee for several federally recognized Indian tribes, maintains an interest over the disputed land even though the property owners argued that the land at issue is separate and distinct from any interest of the United States, the majority of a Michigan panel found in affirming a trial court’s decision to dismiss the case.

  • February 02, 2024

    In Approved Consent Decree, Nebraska Tribes, County Agree To New Voting Districts

    OMAHA, Neb. — A Nebraska federal judge approved a consent decree that requires Thurston County, Neb., to implement a new voter redistricting plan that will give the members of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska a majority in four of the county’s seven Board of Supervisor districts.

  • February 01, 2024

    Consent Decree Filed To Resolve CWA Claims For Oil Spill That Damaged Indian Land

    OKLAHOMA CITY — The United States and two oil companies filed a proposed consent decree in which the companies agreed to pay $7.4 million to resolve claims under the Clean Water Act (CWA) arising from a discharge of heavy crude oil from the companies’ Osage pipeline that contaminated a creek, as well as lands owned by members of the Sac and Fox Nation.

  • February 01, 2024

    Utah Couple Given Chance To Amend Petitions Challenging Alleged Banishment

    SALT LAKE CITY — A man and woman who allege that they were unlawfully banished from the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation may amend their inadequate petitions for writ of habeas corpus within 30 days, a Utah federal judge found after observing that the man is not a member of any federally recognized Indian tribe and is subject to filing restrictions in the court.

  • January 30, 2024

    Tribes And Citizen Groups Sue To Stop Powerline Project In Arizona Valley

    TUCSON, Ariz. — The Tohono O’odham Nation, the San Carlos Apache Tribe and two citizen groups filed a complaint against the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Arizona federal court, alleging that the agencies violated the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by approving construction of a powerline project in an area of cultural importance, Arizona’s San Pedro Valley.

  • January 29, 2024

    N.J. Federal Judge: Loan Company Associated With Tribe Is Not Entitled To Immunity

    NEWARK, N.J. — A payday loan company that is alleged to have engaged in usurious practices is not entitled to sovereign immunity as an “arm of the tribe” that wholly owns it because several factors in a balancing test weigh against such a finding, a New Jersey federal judge found in denying the company’s motion to dismiss.

  • January 29, 2024

    Groups: Current Dimensions Of National Monuments Are Needed To Protect Land

    DENVER — Conservation advocates and archaeology groups have filed separate amicus curiae briefs in the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals arguing that the current boundaries of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, which were reinstated by President Joseph R. Biden Jr., are needed for the proper care and management of the resources in those lands, and the dimensions of the monuments are lawful under the Antiquities Act as it has been interpreted for more than a century.

  • January 26, 2024

    Tribal Corporation Is Immune In Cigarette Sales Dispute, Calif. Federal Judge Finds

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A tribal corporation is entitled to sovereign immunity from claims brought against it by California for the corporation’s allegedly illegal sales and distribution of cigarettes because the corporation acts on behalf of Alturas Indian Rancheria to the extent that it is an “arm of the tribe,” a California federal judge found in partly granting the corporation’s motion to dismiss.