2018 Tribal Courts Cases


Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. Window Rock District Court
2018 WL 7149968
No. SC-CV-42-18
Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation
December 28, 2018

Legal Topics: Child Sexual Abuse

In Re: Robert Osley Saunooke
2018 WL 6977461
Supreme Court of Cherokee Nation
December 19, 2018

Legal Topics: Unauthorized Practice of Law

Swinomish Tribal Community v. McCleod
2018 WL 8224946
NO. CRCO-2017-0111
Swinomish Tribal Court
December 18, 2018

Legal Topics: Juries


Melissa Williams v. Colville Confederated Tribes
2018 WL 8060571 
No. AP18-007 IA
Colville Tribal Court of Appeals.
November 16, 2018

Legal Topics: Judges - Recusal

Cothren v. Nelson
No. AD-2018-0001
Comanche Nation Tribal Appellate Court
November 14, 2018

Legal Topics: Elections

Gallaher v. Colville Confederated Tribes
2018 WL 6240913
No. AP18-005
Colville Tribal Court of Appeals.
November 9, 2018

*Synopsis: Following denial of petition for writ of habeas corpus, interlocutory appeal, and motions to dismiss charges, defendant was convicted in the Tribal Court, No. CR-2017-40039, of possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia. Defendant appealed.

*Holdings:The Colville Tribal Court of Appeals, Taylor, J., held that reversal of defendant's convictions and remand to trial court was required based on violation of defendant's right to be represented by conflict free defense counsel.
Reversed and remanded



Swinomish Tribal Community v. Peters
2018 WL 8224947
NO. CRCO-2018-0009
Swinomish Tribal Court
October 29, 2018

Legal Topics:
Domestic Violence

Kloker v. Fort Peck Tribes
2018 WL 7324879
 NO. AP # 752
Fort Peck Court of Appeals
October 12, 2018

Legal Topics: Hunting Regulation; Riparian Boundaries

Spurr v. Spurr
 Supreme Court Case No.: 18-144-APP ; Tribal Court Case No.: 16-0496-PPO-ND
Supreme Court for the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi
October 4, 2018

Legal Topics: Family Law




Moon v. Hoopa Valley Tribe
NO. A-18-002
Hoopa Valey Tribal Court of Appeals.
August 27, 2018

Legal Topics: Employment - Wrongful Termination

Gilliland v. Cherokee Nation
2018 WL 3854159 
NO.: SC-17-08
Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation.
August 13, 2018

*Synopsis: Defendant charged with embezzlement challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the complaint. The District Court, No. CRM-16-54, T. Luke Barteaux, J., denied her challenge. Defendant appealed.

*Holdings: The Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation, James G. Wilcoxen, J., held that the District Court had jurisdiction over defendant.



Drabik v. Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut
2018 WL 3618252
No. CV-16-0105
Mohegan Tribal Trial Court.
July 25, 2018

Synopsis: Following grant of motion to dismiss and/or strike all but one count in litigation challenging actions of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, plaintiffs moved to reargue and reconsider judgment.

Holdings:After granting motion to reargue, and holding a hearing, the Mohegan Tribal Trial Court, Paul M. Guernsey, Chief Judge, held that Tribal Historic Preservation Officers' response to notification of plan to construct a cellular telecommunications tower was protected by absolute privilege.
Motion denied.



Gabriel v. Colville Business Council
2018 WL 3462459
No. AP18-003
Colville Tribal Court of Appeals.
June 27, 2018

*Synopsis: Former member of Colville Business Council (CBC) brought action seeking damages, a declaratory judgment, and injunctive relief, alleging that his expulsion from that body violated his due process rights. Business Council moved to dismiss. The Tribal Court granted the motion. Plaintiff appealed.

*Holdings: The Colville Tribal Court of Appeals held that:
1) CBC had exclusive jurisdiction and authority to investigate and determine alleged ethical lapses by one of its members; and
2) former member's claims regarding effect of his expulsion on his future eligibility to become a candidate for CBC membership were not ripe for review.



McClellan v. Grand Traverse Band Election Board and Petoskey
NO. 2018-2904-CV-CV
Grand Traverse Band Tribal Court
May 21, 2018

Legal Topics: Tribal Elections

In re Effect of Cherokee Nation v. Nash
15 Am. Tribal Law 92
NO.: SC-2017-07
Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation.
May 16, 2018

*Synopsis: Attorney general filed petition to enter preliminary order declaring that the United States District Court for the District of Columbia opinion Cherokee Nation v. Nash, 267 F.Supp.3d 86, was binding against the Cherokee Nation. The Supreme Court did so, and months later eight Cherokee Nation citizens sought to intervene and have the order set aside.

*Holdings: The Supreme Court held that citizens who disagreed with the outcome of the federal case lacked standing to challenge entry of order declaring the case binding. Ordered accordingly.



Petoskey and Robert v. Grand Traverse Band Election Board
NO. 2018-2919-CV-EL
Grand Traverse Band Tribal Court
April 24, 2018

Legal Topics: Tribal Elections



Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians v. Martinez
15 Am. Tribal Law 45
NOS. 16 CR 1745-47
Supreme Court of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
March 23, 2018

*Synopsis: Defendant, a non-Indian and non-United States citizen charged with aggravated sexual abuse, sexual abuse of a minor, and first degree child abuse that occurred within the boundaries of the Qualla Boundary, moved to dismiss. The Cherokee Court denied the motion. Defendant appealed

*Holdings:The Supreme Court held that Tribe had jurisdiction to prosecute non-Indian, non-citizens who committed crimes on Tribal lands.

People of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians v. Sorrell
NO. BR 17-01
Sault STE. Marie Chippewa Tribal Court
March 23, 2018

Legal Topics: Exclusion Order

Parks v. Taylor
2018 WL 1724169
NO. TUL-CV-AP-2017-0199
Tulalip Tribal Court of Appeals.
March 14, 2018

*Synopsis: Maternal grandmother, as guardian of children, sought permanent civil domestic violence protection orders (DVPOs) against father of children. The Tribal Court, Nos. TUL–CV–PO–2017–0158 and 0159, issued permanent civil DVPOs that would not expire until the minor children turned 18 years of age. Father appealed.

*Holdings: The Tribal Court of Appeals held that:
1) petition and documents for criminal DVPO filed against father nearly a year previously were an insufficient basis to obtain permanent civil DVPOs, and
2) presence of domestic violence prosecutor, a court employee, and members of counseling staff during DVPO hearing did not constitute error.
Reversed and vacated.

People of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians v. Nickaboine
NO. BR 17-02
Sault STE. Marie Chippewa Tribal Court
March 2, 2018

Legal Topics: Exclusion Order



Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians v. Lambert
2018 WL 1245999
Cherokee Court of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
February 8, 2018

*Synopsis: Principal tribal chief filed a complaint against Tribal Council and nine council members in their official and individual capacities, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, and alleging, inter alia, that the tribal council had no authority to suspend him pending impeachment. Chief filed a motion for preliminary injunction. The attorney general filed a motion for intervention and a motion for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. The Cherokee Court, Sharon T. Barrett, J., granted the motion to intervene, granted in part and denied in part the motions for preliminary injunction, and subsequently denied a renewed motion for preliminary injunction. Attorney general filed petition for writ of certiorari and motion for a stay. Chief filed petition for writ of certiorari. The Supreme Court granted the petitions, and initially stayed the impeachment proceedings, but, after consolidating the cases, subsequently issued an order, 15 Am. Tribal Law 54, affirming in part, and lifting the stay on impeachment proceedings.

*Holdings: The Supreme Court, Hunter, J., held that:
1) chief's interlocutory appeal would be heard;
2) attorney general's intervention in action waived tribe's sovereign immunity;
3) attorney general had right to intervene;
4) Tribal Council had the authority to remove chief subsequent to impeachment;
5) fact that census had not been performed for approximately 16 years did not invalidate Tribal Council's actions; and
6) enactments of Grand Council do not have the force of law unless they are adopted by Tribal Council.
Affirmed in part; modified in part.

Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation v. Guertin
6 Mash.Rep. 279
Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court.
February 6, 2018

*Synopsis: Tribe challenged decision of Board of Review that reinstated terminated employee of Mashantucket Pequot Fire Department and awarded full pay.

*Holdings: The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court, Jean M. Lucasey, J., held that:
1) Board's decision that employee violated policy requiring that a spotter be used when an employee is backing up a fire truck was supported by a reasonable basis;
2) Department substantially complied with its disciplinary policies and procedures;
3) evidence did not support Board's finding that Department inconsistently applied its spotter or disciplinary policies;
4) Department's alleged inconsistent application of its safety guideline did not constitute a “mitigating circumstance”; and
5) Department's decision to terminate employee was appropriate.
Decision overturned; appeal sustained.



Schmitz v. Cherokee Nation Businesses, LLC
2018 WL 1193213
Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation.
January 31, 2018

*Synopsis: Former tribal employee, who had been Manager of Strategic Investments for Cherokee Nation Businesses (CNB), sought review of decision of the Employee Appeals Review Panel (EARP) which upheld his termination for violation of CNB's Corporate Policies & Procedures and Standards of Conduct. The District Court, Cripps, J., affirmed. Employee appealed.

*Holdings: The Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation, Lynn Burris, J., held that employee's actions rose to level of moral turpitude contemplated by statute governing termination for cause of employees of the Cherokee Nation.

Spurr v. Spurr
NO. 17-046-PPO/ND
Supreme Court for the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi
January 25, 2018

Legal Topics: Harassment - Individual Protection Order

Byrd v. Cherokee Nation Businesses, LCC
2018 WL 1219217
No. SC-16-18
Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation.
January 10, 2018

*Synopsis: Employee brought action challenging her termination. Following employer's motion to reconsider earlier ruling, the District Court of the Cherokee Nation, CV–2014–293, Bart Fite, J., granted motion and upheld termination. Employee appealed.

*Holdings: The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court, Mark L. Dobbins, J., held that termination of employee for violation of substance abuse and drug testing policy was warranted.


Cases are organized by month:

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