Alaska COA Rejects Yup’ik Free Exercise Defense to Criminal Prosecution for Salmon Fishing

Here is the opinion:

Phillip v. State

An excerpt:

In June 2012, the thirteen defendants in this case — all Yup’ik fishermen living a subsistence lifestyle — were charged with violating the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s emergency orders restricting fishing for king salmon on the Kuskokwim River. The defendants moved for dismissal of the charges, asserting that their fishing for king salmon was religiously based activity, and that they were entitled to a religious exemption from the emergency orders under the free exercise clause of the Alaska Constitution.

Briefs are here.

Briefs in Phillip v. State of Alaska — Yup’ik Fishers Case


Appellants Opening Brief

ACLU Alaska Amicus Brief

AVCP and AFN Amicus Brief

State Brief

Appellants Reply Brief

Victoria Sweet posted the Atlantic Monthly profile of this case here.

Alaska COA Remands Criminal Sentencing to Address Claims of Bias against Defendant Named “Osceola”

Here is the opinion in State v. Osceola.

An excerpt:

The superior court referred to Osceola’s Native American heritage during its sentencing remarks and when it later issued its order denying Osceola’s request to modify the judgment to reflect only the name “Michael Draco Osceola”. The court remarked that Osceola had shown little pride in his heritage because one of the targets of his thefts was a business run by Alaska Natives. The court further remarked that the original Seminole chief Osceola had been one of the judge’s boyhood heroes, and the court expressed disappointment that a namesake of Chief Osceola would engage in criminal behavior.