National Tribal Broadband Summit

Expanding Opportunity, Access, and Connectivity to Indian Country

  • September 23-24, 2019
  • More details and registration here.

The Summit will provide an opportunity for Tribal Leaders, representatives of Tribal organizations, representatives of schools and school districts serving under-connected Native students, Tribal libraries, museums, and cultural centers, private sector, and federal program managers and policymakers to facilitate meaningful discussions focused on bridging the connectivity gap in Indian Country. Sessions will focus on topics including: Funding Broadband Infrastructure, Connectivity Solutions, Planning and Implementation, Community Engagement & Partnerships, Leveraging Technology for Social and Economic Well-being, and Protecting & Preserving Culture.

 

Federal Court Indian Country Determination Order [Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo]

Here are the materials in United States v. Vigil (D.N.M.):

60-us-motion-for-indian-country-determination-1.pdf

71-opposition.pdf

89-reply.pdf

201-dct-order.pdf

Federal Court Holds State Highway on Sandia Pueblo is Indian Country

Here are the materials in United States v. Antonio (D.N.M.):

62 Motion to Dismiss

68 Response

84 DCT Order

An excerpt:

THIS MATTER comes before the Court on the Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Federal Subject Matter Jurisdiction, filed April 10, 2017 (Doc. 62)(“Motion”). The Court held an evidentiary hearing on April 11, 2017, and a hearing on April 12, 2017. The primary issue is whether the Court has jurisdiction over this matter under the Indian Pueblo Land Act Amendments of 2005, Pub. L. No. 109-133, 119 Stat. 2573 (Dec. 20, 2005), codified at 25 U.S.C. § 331 Note, because the automobile collision giving rise to Plaintiff United States of America’s criminal prosecution against Defendant Jeffrey Antonio, which occurred on private land, nonetheless occurred within the exterior boundaries of the 1748 Spanish land grant to the Sandia Pueblo, which Congress confirmed in the Act of December 22, 1858, 11 Stat. 374, 374 (1859). The Court concludes: (i) the automobile collision giving rise to this criminal cause of action occurred within the exterior boundaries of the 1748 Spanish land grant; and, consequently, (ii) under 25 U.S.C. § 331 Note, the Court has jurisdiction over this matter. Accordingly, the Court denies Antonio’s Motion.

Eighth Circuit Holds New Town is “Indian Country”

Here is the opinion in United States v. Bear.

The court’s syllabus:

Defendant's argument that New Town, where his 
   crime occurred, is not part of the Fort Berthold Reservation is rejected, 
   and the district court did not err in determining that defendant was 
   properly subject to federal prosecution.

Idaho COA Dismisses Jurisdictional Challenge to Indian Country Criminal Conviction on Procedural Grounds

Here is the opinion in State v. Wolfe:

State v. Wolfe

An excerpt:

The district court recognized the possible merit of Wolfe’s contentions that the state courts lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the charged offense. The court ordered further briefing from the State and the tribe. The tribe did not provide any briefing.

When denying the initial Rule 35 motion and later dismissing the second successive post-conviction petition (alleging ineffective assistance of counsel based on the failure to raise the issue of lack of subject matter jurisdiction), the district court addressed only the procedural issues of whether the pleadings were timely. Although the district court concluded “there is a genuine issue of whether the court had had jurisdiction because there is credible admissible evidence that [the victim] was in fact a Native American,” it weighed the policies of fundamental justice with the need for finality of judgments and decided, in this case, that the need for finality of judgments outweighed other considerations. In doing so, it noted the issue of lack of subject matter jurisdiction in Wolfe’s underlying criminal case was long-ripe for consideration and Wolfe had had prior opportunities to assert the claim. Thus, the court applied the limitations of the post-conviction procedures as written. Accordingly, the court concluded Wolfe was time-barred from asserting his claim for relief in a post-conviction petition.

The trial court noted:

There appears to be little doubt that the federal courts had exclusive jurisdiction over Mr. Wolfe’s offense. “Crime in which the victim, but not the perpetrator, is Indian are subject to (a) federal jurisdiction under § 1152, as well as pursuant to federal criminal law of general applicability, and (b) state jurisdiction where authorized by Congress.” United States v. Bruce, 394 F.3d 1215, 1222 (9th Cir.2005); United States v. Johnson, 637 F.2d 1224, 1232 n. 11 [ (1980) ]; see, Duro v. Reina, 495 U.S. 676, 698, 699 (1990). Unlike some states, where jurisdiction over all offenses involving Indians was either granted or assumed, Pub.L. No. 280, § 7, Idaho limited its jurisdiction to the offenses itemized in I.C. § 67–5101. Murder is not included.

Alex Pearl on Maximizing Welfare and Efficiency Through Informal Norms in Indian Law

M. Alexander Pearl has posted “Of ‘Texans’ and ‘Custers’: Maximizing Welfare and Efficiency Through Informal Norms,” forthcoming in the Roger Williams University Law Review, on SSRN.

Here is the abstract:

Professor Robert Ellickson (Yale) theorized that the informal norms of a close-knit community maximize aggregate welfare and Professor Barak Richman (Duke) identified two distinct types of private ordering systems: “shadow of law” and “order without law.” Under the Ellickson-Richman structure, many Indian tribes qualify as close-knit groups where informal norms effectively operate. The additional trait of isolation — both geographic and cultural — makes them ideal communities for the prioritization of informal norms. The imposition of external law, such as state law, is harmful and unnecessary to the maintenance of order in these communities. Recent legislative efforts to ameliorate criminal problems in Indian Country miss the mark and an alternative solution prioritizing the operation of informal norms and private ordering should prevail over application of external law and structures.

This article expands upon Ellickson’s assessment of how social behavior is affected by law and other forces, such as the informal norms in a given social group. Part I explains Ellickson’s theory and analyzes other important contributions made by other scholars. Part II discusses the taxonomy of historical and current examples of communities utilizing informal norms, or private law based mechanisms, to resolve disputes and how efficient results that maximize welfare (as defined by the community) are achieved. Part III, addresses the question of whether government law enforcement interferes with the close-knit community to an extent great enough to diminish the efficacy, or existence, of operative informal norms. Part IV examines anthropological sources to argue that the unique attributes of various Indian tribes and tribal communities warrant definition as the type of close-knit communities contemplated under Ellickson’s theory. Part V explains why the informal norms of certain tribal communities should be allowed to operate without interference from outside legal forces (Custers). Finally, Part VI looks at the relevant provisions in the recently passed Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 and asks whether they effectively address the criminal justice issues facing Indian tribes subject to State criminal jurisdiction.

USDOJ Releases Report to Congress on Indian Country Investigations and Prosecutions

The Department of Justice released today a report to Congress entitled Indian Country Investigations and Prosecutions which provides a range of enforcement statistics required under the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010.  The report, based on data compiled from the case management system used by U.S. Attorney’s Offices (USAO) with Indian Country jurisdiction shows among other things a 54 percent increase in Indian Country criminal prosecutions since Fiscal Year 2009.

Press Release here.

Read the report here.

Tenth Circuit Decides Seminole Indian Country Habeas Appeal (Effectively Reversing Oklahoma Criminal COA)

Here are the materials in Magnan v. Trammell:

CA10 Opinion

Magnan Opening Brief

Seminole Tribe Amicus

Oklahoma Answer Brief

Magnan Reply Brief

An excerpt:

Petitioner David Magnan pleaded guilty in Oklahoma state court to three counts of murder in the first degree and one count of shooting with intent to kill. Magnan was sentenced to  death for each of the murder convictions and to a term of life imprisonment on the remaining conviction. Magnan argued on direct review that the crimes occurred in “Indian country,” 18 U.S.C. § 1151, and that, as a result, the state trial court lacked jurisdiction  over the crimes. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (OCCA) held, however, that a  1970 conveyance to the Housing Authority of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma extinguished all Indian lands restrictions that had previously attached to the surface estate of the property where the crimes occurred. The OCCA further held that, even assuming that restrictions remained on 4/5ths of the mineral estate, such interest wasunobservable and insufficient to deprive the State of Oklahoma of criminal jurisdiction over the surface property at issue. In a petition for writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, Magnan again asserted that the crimes at issue occurred in “Indian country” and that the state trial court was without jurisdiction. The district court denied Magnan’s petition but granted him a certificate of appealability. Exercising jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we need only address the status of the surface estate to agree with Magnan that the location where the crimes occurred was “Indian country” because the requirements to extinguish the restrictions placed on Indian lands by Congress were not met and that, as a result, the state trial court lacked jurisdiction over the crimes. Consequently, we reverse the judgment of the district court and remand with instructions to grant Magnan’s petition for writ of habeas corpus.

State court decision, with our commentary, here.