Federal Court Upholds Indian Country Crimes Act Conviction but Holds State Law Punishments Control

Here is the opinion in United States v. Langford (us-v-langford-dct-opinion), and its companion case, United States v. McHone (us-v-mchone-dct-opinion), out of the Western District of Oklahoma. The claimant, a non-Indian prosecuted under the Indian Country Crimes Act and the Assimilative Crimes Act, unsuccessfully argued that the federal court had no criminal jurisdiction over him (the underlying crime was cock-fighting, illegal under Oklahoma law).

However, the court also held that the magistrate judge erred in sentencing the defendant to a fine larger than that allowable under Oklahoma law.

Finally, the court dropped an interesting footnote in the Langford opinion:

In his brief, defendant asserts that pursuant to the Indian Civil Rights Act, he is entitled to all rights afforded to tribal members. The Indian Civil Rights Act, however, undertakes to single out the more important civil rights contained in the United States Constitution and to make those applicable to tribal members. See Martinez v. Santa Clara Pueblo, 540 F.2d 1039, 1042 (10th Cir.1976). Because defendant is not a tribal member, the Court finds the Indian Civil Rights Act is inapplicable in this case.

The citation is to the Martinez panel opinion, not the Supreme Court opinion. I wonder if other circuits have found the same.

One thought on “Federal Court Upholds Indian Country Crimes Act Conviction but Holds State Law Punishments Control

  1. Mike Turner June 30, 2009 / 5:55 pm

    You got it completely wrong you better do your research on this one the Assimilative Crimes Act does not apply to the Kiowa Tribes jurisdiction were Langford and Mchone were prosecuted and Langford is appealing this one to the 10th Circuit they have been trying to keep this case and other related cases swept under the rug this is a problem that has confronted courts who should have knowen better called failure to take Judicial Notice sorry I have to disagree with you on this one Felix Cohen erred in his book concerning the Indian Tribes in Oklahoma there status is not the same Langford opened the gates of Hell on this one.

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