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Text highlighted in blue are links to information available on the Internet free of charge. Text highlighted in green are links to information available on Westlaw, for the convenience of those who have a Westlaw account. Please contact the National Indian Law Library if you need help obtaining legal documents.

The National Indian Law Library and Native American Rights Fund are not affiliated with Westlaw. See www.westlaw.com for more information about the Westlaw legal databases.

* Synopsis and holding provided under an agreement with Westlaw.com www.westlaw.com

Last updated: November 21, 2014

Next update should be ready by: December 5, 2014

Please alert us to any cases we may have missed from the U.S. Courts of Appeals.

New Cases:

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Peabody Western Coal Company
2014 WL 6463162 
Nos. 12–17780.
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Nov. 19, 2014

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) Peabody Western Coal Co. (“Peabody”) mines coal at the Black Mesa Complex and Kayenta mines on the Hopi and Navajo reservations in northeastern Arizona under leases with the tribes. At issue in this appeal are two leases with the Navajo Nation (“the Nation”) that permit Peabody to mine coal on Navajo reservation land. Each lease requires Peabody to give preference in employment to “Navajo Indians.” Both leases received approval from the Department of the Interior (“Interior”) under the Indian Mineral Leasing Act of 1938, 25 U.S.C. §§ 396a, 396e (“IMLA”). Since at least as early as the 1940s, Interior-approved mineral leases, including the two at issue here, have routinely included tribal hiring preference provisions.

* Holding: (not yet available from Westlaw)


Older Cases:

November

Oklahoma v. Hobia
Briefs from Turtle Talk
2014 WL 5822654 
Nos. 12–5134, 12–5136.
United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, Nov. 10, 2014.

*Synopsis: State brought action alleging that tribal officials, along with federally-chartered corporation related to tribe and related state limited liability company, were attempting to construct and ultimately operate class III gaming facility on non-Indian lands, in violation of Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) and state-tribal gaming compact. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma denied defendants' motion to dismiss, 2012 WL 1454885, entered preliminary injunction in state's favor, 2012 WL 2995044, denied defendants' motion for reconsideration, 2012 WL 3096634, and granted in part defendants' motion to modify, 2012 WL 3112306. Defendants filed interlocutory appeal.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Briscoe, Chief Judge, held that:
(1) action was not rendered moot by letter from National Indian Gaming Commission's (NIGC) chairwoman to tribe, and
(2) state's claim did not fall within IGRA's scope.
Reversed and remanded.

October

Thorpe v. Borough of Thorpe
Briefs from Turtle Talk
2014 WL 5369390
Nos. 13–2446, 13–2451.
United States Court of Appeals,Third Circuit, Argued Feb. 14, 2014, Filed Oct. 23, 2014.

*Synopsis: Native American brought action under § 1983 and Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) to require borough to return his father's remains to tribe. The United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, A. Richard Caputo, J., dismissed plaintiff's § 1983 claim, 2011 WL 5878377, and entered summary judgment in plaintiff's favor on NAGPRA claim, 2013 WL 1703572. Borough appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, McKee, Chief Judge, held that borough was not "museum" under NAGPRA.
Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

Becker v. Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation
Briefs from Turtle Talk
2014 WL 5334690
No. 13–4172.
United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, Oct. 21, 2014.

*Synopsis: In action alleging breach of contract, breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and accounting claims against Indian tribe, tribe moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The United States District Court for the District of Utah, Dee Benson, J., 2013 WL 5954391, granted motion. Plaintiff appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Briscoe, Chief Judge, held that federal courts lacked federal question jurisdiction over state claims.
Affirmed.

Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin v. Wisconsin
Briefs from Turtle Talk
2014 WL 5032493
No. 14–1051..
United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, Oct. 9, 2014.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought action alleging that state statute prohibiting members of tribes from hunting deer at night on ceded territory outside tribes' reservations violated its treaty rights. After entry of judgment in state's favor, 775 F.Supp. 321, the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, Barbara B. Crabb, J., denied tribe's motion for relief from judgment, and tribe appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Posner, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) tribe's delay in filing motion was not reason to deny relief, and
(2) reconsideration of tribe's motion was warranted.
Reversed and remanded.

Related News Articles: Tribes in Wisconsin win big decision in treaty hunting dispute (Indianz) 10/10/14

Inetianbor v. Cashcall, Inc.
Briefs from Turtle Talk
2014 WL 4922225
No. 13–13822.
United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, Oct. 2, 2014.

*Synopsis: Borrower brought action against loan servicer, alleging defamation, usury, and violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, No. 0:13–CV–60066–JIC, James I. Cohn, J., 962 F.Supp.2d 1303denied servicer's motion to compel arbitration. Servicer appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Martin, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) forum selection clause was central and integral part of arbitration agreement;
(2) arbitration by Native American tribe was required by the agreement; and
(3) tribal forum was unavailable, precluding arbitration.
Affirmed.

Related News Story: Second federal circuit court refuses to enforce arbitration by South Dakota tribe (Arbitration Nation) 10/15/14

September

United States v. Bryant
2014 WL 4815099
No. 12–30177.
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Argued and Submitted July 10, 2014, Filed Sept. 30, 2014.

*Synopsis: In prosecution for domestic assault within Indian country by habitual offender, the United States District Court for the District of Montana, Jack D. Shanstrom, Senior Judge, denied defendant's motion to dismiss indictment, and he appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Paez, Circuit Judge, held that defendant's prior uncounselled tribal court domestic abuse convictions could not be used as predicate offenses.
Reversed.

Related News Stories: 9th Circuit: Not all tribal court convictions can be used as a basis for federal prosecution (Star Tribune) 10/1/14

EEOC v. Peabody Western Coal Company
Oral Arguments and Briefs from Turtle Talk
2014 WL 4783087
No. 12–17780.
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Argued and Submitted May 12, 2014, Filed Sept. 26, 2014.

*Synopsis: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought action against company that mined coal on Hopi and Navajo reservations under leases with the tribes, and against tribe, alleging lease requirements that company give preference in employment to Navajo Indians was national origin discrimination in violation of Title VII. Company impleaded the Secretary of the Interior and counterclaimed against the EEOC for declaratory relief. The United States District Court for the District of Arizona, John W. Sedwick, J., denied EEOC's motion to supplement the record and, 2012 WL 5034276, granted summary judgment for the Secretary and tribe on the ground that the tribal hiring preferences in the leases were permissible under Title VII. EEOC appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, W. Fletcher, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) on question of first impression, Title VII's prohibition against national origin discrimination did not prohibit the leases' tribal hiring preferences;
(2) district court did not abuse its discretion by denying as untimely EEOC's request to supplement the record; and
(3) EEOC waived on appeal its claim that company violated Title VII's record-keeping requirements.
Affirmed.

King Mountain Tobacco Company, INC. v. McKenna
2014 WL 4783092
No. 13–35360.
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Argued and Submitted Aug. 27, 2014, Filed Sept. 26, 2014.

*Synopsis: Tobacco and cigarette manufacturing company owned by Yakama tribal member, and Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Indian Nation brought action against Washington's Attorney General, for declaratory and injunctive relief from Washington's escrow statute. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, Lonny R. Suko, J., 2013 WL 1403342, granted summary judgment in favor of state. Plaintiffs appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Christen, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) escrow statute was a nondiscriminatory law;
(2) district court properly determined whether manufacturer's products were principally generated from reservation land; and
(3) Yakama Treaty was not an express federal law that exempted manufacturer from Washington's escrow statute.
Affirmed.

Chemehuevi Indian Tribe v. Jewell
Briefs from Turtle Talk
2014 WL 4627994
No. 12–56836.
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Argued and Submitted April 7, 2014. Filed Sept. 17, 2014.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe and its members brought action alleging that Interior Secretary, acting through Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), violated Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by determining that Interior was not authorized to approve tribe's assignments of land to certain of its members. The United States District Court for the Central District of California, Stephen V. Wilson, J., entered summary judgment in Secretary's favor, and plaintiffs appealed..

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Thomas, Circuit Judge, held that: (1) tribe was prohibited by Indian Nonintercourse Act from approving land assignment deeds to tribal members in manner similar to fee simple ownership, and
(2) Interior Secretary was not authorized to approve conveyances.
Affirmed.

Thlopthlocco Tribal Town v. Stidham
2014 WL 4345420 
No. 13–5006.
United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, Sept. 3, 2014.

*Synopsis: Thlopthlocco Tribal Town, a federally recognized Indian tribe, brought action against tribal judicial officers of the Muscogee Nation, another federally recognized Indian tribe, seeking to enjoin the Muscogee Nation tribal court's exercise of jurisdiction over an election dispute, after the Thlopthlocco Tribal Town withdrew its consent to the tribal court's jurisdiction. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, James H. Payne, J., 2013 WL 65234, dismissed. The Thlopthlocco Tribal Town appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Tymkovich, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) the District Court had subject matter jurisdiction;
(2) the alleged unlawful exercise of tribal court jurisdiction was sufficient for application of Ex parte Young doctrine to tribal sovereign immunity;
(3) the Muscogee Nation was not an indispensable party;
(4) the Thlopthlocco Tribal Town failed to exhaust its claims in tribal court; and
(5) abatement was preferable to dismissal pending exhaustion of tribal court remedies.
Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin v. United States
Briefs from Turtle Talk

2014 WL 4290302
No. 12–5217.
United States Court of Appeals, Disctrict of Columbia Circuit, Argued March 13, 2014. Decided Sept. 2, 2014.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe that operated health care system for tribal members pursuant to self-determination contract with Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) brought action against HHS, alleging breach of that contract. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia, 539 F.Supp.2d 152,dismissed tribe's claims in part, and, 2008 WL 3919158, denied tribe's motion to reconsider. The Court of Appeals, 614 F.3d 519, reversed and remanded. On remand, the District Court, Rosemary M. Collyer, J., 841 F.Supp.2d 99, granted summary judgment in favor of government. Tribe appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Pillard, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) tribe's miscalculation that it would be eligible to participate in class action was not extraordinary circumstance warranting equitable tolling of applicable limitations period;
(2) alleged certainty of failure tribe faced in bringing its claims was not an extraordinary circumstance that warranted equitable tolling; and
(3) series of events that tribe faced in bringing its claims did not jointly amount to an extraordinary circumstance.
Ordered accordingly.

August

White v. University of California
Briefs from Turtle Talk
2014 WL 4211421
No. 12–17489.
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Argued and Submitted Dec. 3, 2013. Filed Aug. 27, 2014.

*Synopsis: Scientists brought declaratory judgment action against tribal repatriation committee, university, its regents, and certain of its officials, opposing repatriation of aboriginal human remains that had been possessed by federally funded museums and educational institutions since their discovery on university property during archaeological field excavation project. The United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Richard Seeborg, J., dismissed the complaint. Scientists appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Thomas, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) scientists had standing to bring action seeking a declaration that the remains were not "Native American" within meaning of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA);
(2) NAGPRA did not abrogate tribes' sovereign immunity from suit;
(3) tribal repatriation committee was entitled to tribal sovereign immunity as an arm of the tribe;
(4) tribal repatriation committee did not waive its sovereign immunity;
(5) tribes and repatriation committee were necessary parties;
(6) tribes and repatriation committee were indispensable parties; and
(7) public rights exception to compulsory joinder rule did not apply.
Affirmed.

Jackson v. Payday Financial, LLC
2014 WL 4116804
No. 12-2617.
United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Argued Jan. 22, 2013. Decided Aug. 22, 2014.

*Synopsis: Consumers brought putative class action in state court against limited liability company (LLC) and other entities offering payday loans that were owned by, or doing business with, enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, alleging violations of Illinois civil and criminal statutes related to loans that consumers had received. Defendants removed the action. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, Charles P. Kocoras, J., granted defendants' motion to dismiss for improper venue. Consumers appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Ripple, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) forum selection clause of payday loan agreements specifying that any disputes arising from the agreements would be resolved in arbitration by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Nation was illusory and, thus, unenforceable;
(2) tribal courts did not have subject matter jurisdiction over consumers' claims; and
(3) defendants failed to establish a colorable claim of tribal jurisdiction, and, therefore, exhaustion in tribal courts was not required.
Reversed and remanded.

McAllen Grace Brethren Church v. Salazar
2014 WL 4099141
No. 13-40326.
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Aug. 20, 2014

*Synopsis: Plaintiffs brought action against the Department of the Interior, seeking declaration that Department's enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act violated the Free Exercise Clause and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) because it prohibited American Indians who were not members of federally-recognized tribes from possessing bald eagle feathers and golden eagle feathers. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas granted summary judgment to Department. Plaintiffs appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Haynes, Circuit Judge, held that Department, as movant for summary judgment, did not make prima facie showing of least restrictive means of furthering asserted governmental interests, as required under RFRA.
Reversed and remanded.

Related News Story: Fifth Circuit grants Native Americans religious freedom to obtain permits for eagle feathers (Southeast Texas Record) 9/9/14. 5th Cir. applies RFRA to Indian religious ceremonies subject to the MBTA and Eagle Protection Act (Lexology) 8/21/14

United States v. Lummi Nation
763 F.3d 1180
No. 12–35936.
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Argued and Submitted April 11, 2014, Filed Aug. 19, 2014.

*Synopsis: In proceedings to adjudicate fishing rights reserved by 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott, Lower Elwha Band of S'Klallams, Jamestown Band of S'Klallams, Port Gamble Band of S'Klallams, and Skokomish Indian Tribe sought determination that Lummi Indian Tribe was violating 1974 District Court opinion in United States v. Washington by fishing in areas outside its adjudicated usual and accustomed grounds and stations. Following entry of summary judgment order in 1990 in favor of plaintiff tribes determining that 1974 opinion did not intend to include disputed areas within Lummi tribe's usual and accustomed grounds and stations, the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, Barbara Jacobs Rothstein, J., dismissed action. Plaintiff tribes appealed. The Court of Appeals, 235 F.3d 443, affirmed in part and reversed in part. On remand, the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, Ricardo S. Martinez, J., 2012 WL 4846239, entered summary judgment on Klallam tribes' request for determination that Lummi tribe's usual and accustomed grounds did not include eastern portion of Strait of Juan de Fuca or waters west of Whidbey Island. Lummi tribe appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Bea, Circuit Judge, held that law of the case doctrine did not control determination of Lummi tribe's usual and accustomed grounds.
Reversed and remanded.

Gatzaros v. Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians
Briefs from Turtle Talk
2014 WL 3765834
No. 13-2045.
United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Aug. 1, 2014.

*Synopsis: Third-party beneficiaries of guaranty agreement sued Indian tribe and casino, as guarantors, seeking to recover $74 million that beneficiaries were owed under redemption agreement after casino failed to fully pay subscription amount owed to redeemer, under subscription agreement in which casino agreed to pay to redeemer subscription amounts that were owed to beneficiaries, under redemption agreement, as those payments came due. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Paul D. Borman, J., 2013 WL 3456976, dismissed suit. Beneficiaries appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Stranch, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) beneficiaries could not unilaterally modify guaranty agreement, and
(2) guarantors did not waive their defenses to beneficiaries' attempted unilateral modification.
Affirmed.

Related News Story: 6th Circuit sides with Sault Tribe in commercial casino dispute (Indianz) 8/4/14

 

July

Cayuga Indian Nation v. Seneca County
Briefs from Turtle Talk
2014 WL 3746795
No. 12-3723.
United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Argued: January 7, 2014. Decided: July 31, 2014

*Synopsis: Native-American tribe brought action, seeking permanent declaratory and injunctive relief against county's attempts to collect property taxes on five parcels of land purchased by tribe. The United States District Court for the Western District of New York, Charles J. Siragusa, J., 890 F.Supp.2d 240, granted tribe's motion for preliminary injunction to enjoin county from foreclosing on properties pursuant to New York law. County appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals held that tribal sovereign immunity protected tribe from suit.
Affirmed.

Wildearth Guardians v. EPA
Briefs from Turtle Talk
759 F.3d 1196
No. 13–9524.
United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, July 23, 2014.

*Synopsis: Environmental group filed petition pursuant to Clean Air Act (CAA) for review of federal implementation plan (FIP) promulgated by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce regional haze by regulating emissions from coal-fired power plant located on Indian reservation. Utility intervened, and petition was transferred.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Hartz, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) group's claim that EPA was required to require emissions filtering devices on three of plant's units was moot;
(2) Court of Appeals would not consider group's suggestions in post-briefing letters;
(3) group member alleged sufficiently concrete and particularized injury to establish standing; and
(4) EPA had no duty to consult with Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).
Petition denied.

United States v. Whiteagle
2014 WL 3562716
No. 12-3554.
United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Argued June 6, 2013. Decided July 21, 2014

*Synopsis: Defendant was convicted in the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, William M. Conley, Chief Judge, of bribing and conspiring to bribe a tribal legislator, and he appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Rovner, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) evidence was sufficient to sustain conspiracy conviction;
(2) false invoices defendant submitted to vendors were admissible; and
(3) bribery guideline applied in sentencing defendant.
Affirmed.

Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas v. United States
2014 WL 3360472
Nos. 13-40644.
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, July 9, 2014

*Synopsis: Tribe brought suit against the United States and various federal agencies, alleging that issuance of drilling leases and permits on land violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and federal common law. Government moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Rodney Gilstrap, J., 2013 WL 1279033, adopted report and recommendation of Roy S. Payne, United States Magistrate Judge, 2013 WL 1279051, and granted motion to dismiss. Tribe appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Carl E. Stewart, Chief Judge, held that federal court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Tribe's claims.
Affirmed.

June

Stockbridge Munsee Community v. New York
756 F.3d 163
Petition for Rehearing En Banc
Nos. 13-3069.
United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Argued: June 18, 2014. Decided: June 20, 2014.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought action against State of New York and certain state officials and agencies, counties, towns, and villages, asserting various claims alleging tribe, and not the State, had title to 36 square mile tract of land in upstate New York. The United States District Court for the Northern District of New York, Kahn, J., 2013 WL 3822093, granted defendants' motions to dismiss, and tribe appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals held that equitable principles of laches, acquiescence, and impossibility barred tribe's claims.
Affirmed.

United States v. Goldtooth
754 F.3d 763
Nos. 12-10570, 12-10571.
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Argued and submitted March 10, 2014. Filed June 12, 2014

*Synopsis: Following denial of their motion for judgment of acquittal, defendants were convicted after jury trial in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, James A. Teilborg, Senior District Judge, of aiding and abetting robbery on an Indian reservation, and they appealed their convictions.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Noonan, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) no rational juror could have found that defendants had advance knowledge that package of tobacco would be taken from the victims, nor could a rational juror have inferred foreknowledge or intent from the circumstances, as required to convict defendants of aiding and abetting robbery;
(2) addressing a matter of apparent first impression for the court, attempted robbery, under statute proscribing robbery in special maritime or territorial jurisdictions, including Indian reservations, requires proof of specific intent; and
(3) the government failed to prove that defendants intended to take victim's money or wallet, as required to establish the underlying crime of attempted robbery, and as required to prove that either defendant aided and abetted any such attempt.
Reversed.

May

Haight v. Thompson
763 F.3d 554
No. 13–6005.
United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, Argued: May 9, 2014, Decided and Filed: Aug. 15, 2014.

*Synopsis: Death-row inmates brought action against prison officials alleging violations of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). The United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, Thomas B. Russell, J., 2013 WL 1092969, granted summary judgment to the officials, and prisoner appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Sutton, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) inmates exhausted their administrative remedies, as required by Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA);
(2) issues of fact precluded summary judgment on inmates' claim that denial of access to sweat lodge for Native American religious ceremonies violated RLUIPA;
(3) officials' decision to deny certain Native American foods for powwow imposed substantial burden on their religious practices;
(4) issues of fact precluded summary judgment on inmates' RLUIPA claim arising from denial of these foods; and
(5) RLUIPA did not permit inmates to collect money damages from prison officials sued in their individual capacities.
Affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded.

Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida Department of Revenue
Cert. Petition from Turtle Talk
750 F.3d 1238
Nos. 13-10566.
United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, May 5, 2014

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought action seeking declaratory judgment that tribe was exempt from paying state tax on fuel and injunction requiring refund of taxes paid. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, James I. Cohn, J., 917 F.Supp.2d 1255, dismissed complaint, and tribe appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Pryor, held that:
(1) state's sovereign immunity barred action, and
(2) action did not fall within scope of Ex parte Young exception to state's Eleventh Amendment immunity.
Affirmed.

April

Native American Council of Tribes v. Weber
Briefs from Turtle Talk
750 F.3d 742
Nos. 13–1401.
United States Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit, April 25, 2014

*Synopsis: Native American organization and inmates brought action against prison officials, claiming that the prison's policy of prohibiting tobacco use by Native American inmates during religious activities substantially burdened the exercise of their religious beliefs in violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). The United States District Court for the District of South Dakota, Karen E. Schreier, Chief Judge, 897 F.Supp.2d 828, found the restrictions violated RLUIPA and ordered parties to confer. After the parties failed to agree on a new tobacco policy, the District Court, 2013 WL 310633, entered a remedial order granting injunctive relief. The prison officials appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Bright, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) the inmates' use of tobacco during Native American ceremonies was a religious exercise;
(2) the prison's complete ban on tobacco use substantially burdened the exercise of the inmates' religious beliefs;
(3) a complete ban was not the least restrictive means of furthering the prison's interest in order and security; and
(4) the District Court's remedial order was narrowly tailored to remedy the violation of inmates' rights.
Affirmed.

Colombe v. Rosebud Sioux Tribe
747 F.3d 1020
Nos. 13-1382, 13-1512.
United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, April 4, 2014

*Synopsis: Casino management company's principal brought action to vacate tribal court decision regarding casino management contract dispute and to enjoin tribe from continuing tribal court action to pierce corporate veil. The United States District Court for the District of South Dakota, dismissed complaint in part, 835 F.Supp.2d 736, and entered summary judgment in tribe's favor on remaining claims. Principal appealed, and tribe cross-appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Shepherd, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) company failed to adequately exhaust its tribal court remedies, and
(2) insolvency of company and its principal did not excuse principal from exhaustion requirement.
Affirmed in part and reversed in part.

El Paso Natural Gas Co. v. United States
Briefs from Turtle Talk
750 F.3d 863
Nos. 12–5156, 12–5157.
United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, April 4, 2014

*Synopsis: Natural gas company brought action against United States and other federal entities, alleging failure to fulfill obligations under Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act (UMTRCA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and Administrative Procedure Act (APA) in connection with certain properties alleged to be contaminated with residual radioactive waste. Indian tribe intervened, asserting claims under UMTRCA and federal and tribal law. Defendants moved to dismiss. The District Court, Richard J. Leon, J., 774 F.Supp.2d 40 and 847 F.Supp.2d 111, granted motions. Defendants appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Edwards, Senior Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) Comprehensive Environmental Resources, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) barred court's jurisdiction over RCRA claims related to landfill site;
(2) dismissal of RCRA claims under CERCLA should have been without prejudice;
(3) tribe's RCRA claims in relation to other site were not moot;
(4) as matter of first impression, governmental agencies are persons entitled to bring citizen suits under RCRA;
(5) UMTRCA did not preclude judicial review of tribe's APA claims;
(6) tribe failed to state "failure to act" claims under APA; and
(7) tribe did not have cause of action against United States for breach of trust duties.
Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

March

Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians of Nevada v. U.S. Dep't of Interior
2014 WL 1244275
No. 12–15412.
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, March 27, 2014

*Synopsis: Indian tribes brought action challenging Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) approval of mining project on federal land, alleging violations of Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Project owner intervened. The United States District Court for the District of Nevada, Larry R. Hicks, J., 2012 WL 13780, granted summary judgment in favor of BLM and project owner. Tribes appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals held that:
(1) BLM did not act arbitrarily or capriciously when it determined further accommodation of Indian tribes' religious use of pediment area of piñon-juniper groves at base of mountain in project area was not practicable, and
(2) BLM did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in analyzing project's impacts on water resources.
Affirmed.

Dolgencorp, Inc. v. the Mississippi Band of Chocktaw Indians
746 F.3d 167
No. 12–60668.
United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, March 14, 2014

*Synopsis: Corporation, which operated store on Indian reservation, brought an action seeking to enjoin member of the Indian tribe, and other tribal defendants from adjudicating tort claims against it in tribal court. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, 846 F.Supp.2d 646, denied corporation's motion for summary judgment and granted summary judgment in favor of the tribal defendants, and corporation appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, James E. Graves, Jr., Circuit Judge, held that tribal jurisdiction would exist over tort claims brought against nonmember, which operated store on reservation, arising from alleged sexual molestation of Indian participant in job training program by store manager while participant was working at the store.
Affirmed.

United States v. Wanna
744 F.3d 584
No. 13–1898.
United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit, March 7, 2014

*Synopsis: Defendant was convicted in the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota, Charles B. Kornmann, J., of misapplication of funds from an Indian tribal organization and aiding and abetting, and was sentenced to 33 months' imprisonment, and she appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Riley, Chief Judge, held that:
(1) evidence was sufficient to support defendant's conviction, and
(2) defendant failed to rebut the presumption of reasonableness that applied to her guidelines sentence.
Affirmed.

February

In re Grand Jury Proceedings
744 F.3d 211
No. 13–2498.
United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit, Feb. 20, 2014

*Synopsis: Government moved to compel compliance by Indian tribe's historic preservation office with subpoena duces tecum that was issued by since-defunct grand jury, representing that investigation had been transferred to newly-empanelled grand jury. Preservation office objected and moved to quash subpoena on grounds of tribal sovereign immunity and unreasonableness. After granting motion to compel and issuing show cause order due to preservation office's noncompliance, the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island, John J. McConnell, Jr., J., held preservation office in civil contempt. Preservation office appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Howard, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) subpoena could not be enforced by civil contempt sanctions after expiration of issuing grand jury;
(2) exception to mootness doctrine applied to warrant review of preservation office's additional challenges to subpoena;
(3) tribal sovereign immunity provides no refuge from subpoena power of federal grand jury; and
(4) denial of motion to quash subpoena as unreasonable was not abuse of discretion.
Vacated.

United States v. Nowlin
555 Fed.Appx. 821
No. 13-8028.
United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, Feb. 19, 2014

*Synopsis: Defendant was convicted in the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming, pursuant to the Major Crimes Act, of one count of assault resulting in serious bodily injury in Indian Country and four counts of assault with a dangerous weapon with intent to do bodily harm in Indian Country. Defendant appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Robert E. Bacharach, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) evidence of tribal or federal recognition of defendant's status as Indian was sufficient to support application of Major Crimes Act;
(2) trial court did not abuse its discretion in taking judicial notice of defendant's prior admission under oath of Indian status;
(3) any prejudice resulting from arresting officer's testimony portraying defendant as drunken and belligerent at time of his arrest was not unfair; and
(4) defendant's statements to arresting officer reflected defendant's involvement in charged assaults rather than uncharged misconduct.

Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes v. First Bank & Trust Company
560 Fed.Appx. 699
No. 13-6117.
United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, Feb. 11, 2014

*Synopsis: Native American tribes brought action against bank and Oklahoma state court judge, alleging that bank and judge violated tribes' sovereign immunity by transferring tribes' funds deposited at bank to court-supervised accounts as part of bank's Oklahoma state court declaratory judgment action, which sought to determine bank's obligations with regard to tribes' account in light of unsettled question of tribal governance. The United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma granted bank's and judge's motions to dismiss. Tribes appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Carlos F. Lucero, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) tribes had standing to bring action;
(2) tribes could not maintain s 1983 action under doctrine of parens patriae;
(3) statute that allowed for tribes to seek injunctive relief that the United States could have sought did not constitute an express Congressional exception to Anti-Injunction Act's (AIA) general prohibition on grants of injunctions by federal courts to stay state court proceedings;
(4) AIA's general prohibition on grants of injunctions by federal courts to stay state court proceedings extended to declaratory judgment sought by tribes against judge;
(5) bank did not act under color of state law in imposing administrative freeze on tribes' funds, and thus tribes could not maintain s 1983 action against bank; and
(6) district court did not abuse its discretion in not providing tribes with leave to amend their complaint rather than dismissing their claims with prejudice.
Affirmed.

January

Friends of Amador County v. Salazar
Briefs from Turtle Talk
554 Fed.Appx. 562
No. 11–17996.
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Jan. 29, 2014

*Synopsis: An advocacy organization and its members brought action against the State of California and its Governor, the Department of the Interior (DOI) and its Secretary, and the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) and its Acting Chairman, challenging the state's gaming compact with an Indian Tribe, and the federal recognition of the Tribe. The Indian Tribe intervened. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, William B. Shubb, Senior District Judge, 2011 WL 4709883, granted the Tribe's motion to dismiss, and denied a motion to vacate the dismissal, 2011 WL 6141291. The advocacy organization and its members appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals held that:
(1) the District Court did not abuse its discretion in determining that the Indian Tribe was a required party;
(2) the District Court did not abuse its discretion in determining that it would not be feasible to join the Indian Tribe;
(3) the District Court did not abuse its discretion in determining that the Indian Tribe was an indispensable party; and
(4) the public rights exception to joinder did not apply.
Affirmed.

Bonnet v. Harvest (US) Holdings, Inc.
Briefs from Turtle Talk
741 F.3d 1155

No. 12–4068.
United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, Jan. 28, 2014

*Synopsis: Petroleum landman, and his sole proprietorship, brought action against various companies and individuals arising from Tribe's termination of his contract to provide independent consultant services. Plaintiff served Tribe with non-party subpoena duces tecum requesting documents. The United States District Court for the District of Utah, Clark Waddoups, J., 2012 WL 994403, denied the Tribe's motion to quash based on tribal immunity. Tribe appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Baldock, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) denial of motion to quash based on tribal immunity was immediately appealable collateral order, and
(2) as matter of first impression in Circuit, subpoena itself was "suit" against Tribe triggering tribal sovereign immunity.
Reversed.

Yellowbear v. Lampert
741 F.3d 48
No. 12–8048.
United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, Jan. 23, 2014

*Synopsis: State prisoner commenced action against individual prison officials, seeking prospective injunctive relief against them for violations of Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). The United States District Court for the District of Wyoming granted summary judgment for prison personnel. Prisoner appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Gorsuch, Circuit Judge, held that factual issue existed as to whether preventing state prisoner from exercising his sincerely held religious belief that using sweat lodge cleansed and purified his mind, spirit, and body served compelling governmental interest and that it was least restrictive means of furthering that interest.
Vacated and remanded.

Hester v. Jewell
553 Fed.Appx. 783
No. 13-4142.
United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, Janurary 21, 2014

*Synopsis: Job applicant brought pro se Title VII action against Secretary of the Department of Interior (DOI) and Department officials. The United States District Court for the District of Utah, Dale A. Kimball, J., 2013 WL 5322625, dismissed sua sponte, and applicant appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit Carlos F. Lucero, Circuit Judge, held that application of Indian Preference to job postings within DOI was not racial discrimination under Title VII.
Affirmed.

Big Lagoon Rancheria v. California
Briefs from Turtle Talk
741 F.3d 1032
Nos. 10–17803, 10–17878.
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Jan. 21, 2014

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought action alleging that State violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) by failing to negotiate in good faith for a casino on a particular 11-acre parcel of land. The United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Claudia Wilken, P.J., granted summary judgment for the tribe, 759 F.Supp.2d 1149, but, subsequently, granted State's motion for a stay pending appeal, 2012 WL 298464. Both parties appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Block, District Judge, sitting by designation, held that:
(1) tribe's right to request negotiations under the IGRA depends on it having jurisdiction over Indian lands on which it proposed to conduct gaming;
(2) the State could waive the IGRA's "Indian lands" requirement;
(3) State's challenge to entrustment of 11-acre parcel of land to tribe was timely; and
(4) 11-acre parcel of land did not constitute "Indian lands" over which tribe could demand negotiations.
Reversed and remanded.

Oklahoma Dep't of Environmental Quality v. EPA
Briefs from Turtle Talk
740 F.3d 185
No. 11–1307.
United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, Jan. 17, 2014

*Synopsis: Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality petitioned for review of final rule promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Air Act (CAA), which established a federal implementation plan for the attainment of national air quality standards in Indian country.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Ginsburg, Senior Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) Oklahoma had standing to bring petition;
(2) Oklahoma's petition was not time-barred;
(3) Oklahoma did not forfeit its claim that state implementation plan presumptively applied in non-reservation Indian country; and
(4) EPA had no authority under the CAA to issue the rule.
Petition granted.

MM&A Productions, LLC v. Yavapai-Apache Productions
316 P.3d 1248
No. 2 CA–CV 2013– 0051.
Court of Appeals of Arizona, Division , Jan. 16, 2014

*Synopsis: Event production company filed complaint against indian tribe and tribe's casino, alleging breach of exclusive entertainment and production agreement and associated claims. The Superior Court, Pima County, No. C20085949,Paul E. Tang and Carmine Cornelio, JJ., dismissed complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Company appealed.

* Holding: The Court of Appeals, Kelly, P.J., held that:
(1) alleged apparent authority to waive tribe's sovereign immunity by signing agreement did not constitute valid waiver;
(2) trial court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that further discovery was unnecessary to determine that agreement did not waive immunity; and
(3) waiver of sovereign immunity signed prior to execution of agreement was insufficient to waive immunity as to agreement.
Affirmed.

 

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