United States v. Killeaney — Sixth Amendment and the Dual Sovereignty Doctrine — A Circuit Split involving Tribal Law Enforcement & Tribal Courts?

The District Court for the District of South Dakota recently declined to suppress evidence obtained in a criminal investigation at the Rosebud. This case has the potential to go to the Supreme Court (a circuit split already exists and another could arise) and could be a significant problem for tribal criminal law enforcement.

The defendant allegedly committed a crime on tribal lands, initially investigated by the tribal police and prosecuted in tribal court. The defendant made statements to police while being represented by a tribal public defender, who was not a lawyer or a law school graduate (however, the director of the tribal public defender office is a lawyer). The US would like to use those statements in the federal prosecution of the same offense. The question is when the defendant’s Miranda and the Sixth Amendment right to counsel attaches. If the CA8 reverses this decision and holds that they attach at the tribal court level, then there will be two circuit splits.

Continue reading