Now we move to category 2 (sounds like a hurricane) — Doctrines, Laws, and Issues (aka, grabag or miscellaneous). The first four contests there….
# 1 Indian Child Welfare Act
It’s been a big year for ICWA a year after Baby Girl (we miss you so much). The Attorney General announced the Department of Justice’s commitment to the statute, the South Dakota class action filed by the Oglala Sioux Tribe is currently pending after much drama about whether Judge Davis was refusing to disclose evidence, and DOJ intervened as an amicus in an important Alaska case (as well as the South Dakota matter). Alaska will now give full faith and credit to Alaska tribal courts on ICWA matters.
The Virginia SCT issued a split opinion on what parts of state law on best interests are trumped by ICWA here, and the Kentucky Supreme Court reaffirmed its commitment the existing Indian family exception (not good, Kentucky). Montana’s Supreme Court issued a few troubling opinions expressing an infatuation with the Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl decision.
State courts from around the country published opinions on a wide variety of ICWA subjects: tribal court transfer (Nebraska — that was a good one), father’s rights in contested adoption (Alaska), qualified expert witnesses (Arizona, Alaska), active efforts (Nebraska, Montana), termination of parental rights (Texas), placement preferences (California, and again), truancy (Nebraska), application (Oregon, North Dakota), and notice, notice, notice (Kansas COA, California –three times here, North Carolina COA, Michigan COA, California COA again, Nebraska COA, Michigan COA again
Important-ish unpublished opinions involved ineffective assistance of counsel (Michigan), active efforts (Michigan), burden of proof (Michigan), placement preferences (California), customary adoption (California), and … you guessed it … notice (Michigan COA, California COA, another Michigan COA, and yet another)
You might see a lot of Michigan here (here’s another), and that’s thanks to MIFPA.
#16 Federal Indian law preemption
The Chehalis/Great Wolf Lodge matter from 2013 helped bring federal Indian law preemption back from the dead. The State of Washington was still feeling the consequences this year. The real impact may be in the BIA leasing regulations.
# 8 Rule 19
My favorite FRCP. Lots of Rule 19 action again this year, including a close call at the Supreme Court, which denied cert in the Buena Vista matter. Other cases involved Jamul Indian Village, payday lending cases, and Skokomish.
# 9 Indian country voting rights
# 4 Indian gaming
Billions a year for tribal communities. Relentless litigation. Enough said.
# 13 Internet gaming
So far, pretty much nothing for tribal communities.
# 5 Intra-tribal disputes
This is the bad news part of the game.
# 12 Human trafficking