California COA Affirms Tribal Official Immunity in Disenrollment Challenge at Elem Colony

Here is the opinion in Brown v. GarciaPDF

An excerpt:

This case is different. As the trial court noted, Maxwell and Pistor make clear that the general rule is not dispositive if the lawsuit will encroach upon the tribe’s sovereignty. (See Maxwell, supra, 708 F.3d at p. 1088.) Here, substantial evidence established that defendants were tribal officials at the time of the alleged defamation and that they were acting within the scope of their tribal authority when they determined that, for the reasons stated in the allegedly defamatory Order of Disenrollment, plaintiffs should be disenrolled from the Tribe pursuant to a validly enacted tribal ordinance. On this record, which we have carefully reviewed, the trial court concluded that plaintiffs sought to hold defendants liable for actions they took as tribal officials in pursuing plaintiffs’ disenrollment from the Tribe on the basis of plaintiffs’ alleged unlawful acts. The court further found that adjudicating the dispute would require the court to determine whether tribal law authorized defendants to publish the Order and disenroll plaintiffs, “which itself requires an impermissible analysis of Tribal law and constitutes a determination of a non-justiciable inter-tribal dispute.”