Michigan COA Rules Former Tribal Official with Criminal Record Not Eligible for State and Local Office

Here is the opinion in Paquin v. City of St. Ignace:

unpublished opinion

An excerpt:

In light of the foregoing, we hold that the Tribe constitutes a local government and that plaintiff’s employment with the Tribe constituted employment in “local, state, or federal government” for purposes of Const 1963, art XI, § 8. Such a holding does not diminish or undermine the Tribe’s inherent sovereign authority. “[S]tate laws are generally not applicable to tribal Indians on an Indian reservation except where Congress has explicitly provided that state law shall apply.” Huron Potawatomi, Inc v Stinger, 227 Mich App 127, 132; 574 NW2d 706 (1997). In the instant case, no one is seeking to prohibit plaintiff from running for a position in the Tribe or otherwise to interfere in the Tribe’s regulation of its internal matters. Instead, Const 1963, art 11, § 8 is being applied to prohibit plaintiff from running for a position on defendant’s city council. In other words, the constitutional provision is being used to assess the qualification of a potential candidate for a position on the city council of a Michigan municipality, not a position in the Tribe. “The members of the various Indian tribes are citizens of the United States and citizens of the state within which they reside.” Mich United Conservation Clubs v Anthony, 90 Mich App 99, 109; 280 NW2d 883 (1979) (citations omitted). In seeking to run for an elective position in a Michigan city, plaintiff was acting in his capacity as a Michigan citizen rather than a member of the Tribe. As a Michigan citizen, plaintiff is subject to the same laws as other Michigan citizens when seeking to run for an office in a Michigan municipality. See generally, Mescalero Apache Tribe v Jones, 411 US 145, 148-149; 93 S Ct 1267; 36 L Ed 2d 114 (1973) (“Absent express federal law to the contrary, Indians going beyond reservation boundaries have generally been held subject to non-discriminatory state law otherwise applicable to all citizens of the State.”).

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