Doe v. Jesson Case (MN Federal ICWA Case) Dismissed as Moot

Here is the opinion.

After two years, the Minnesota federal district court dismissed the voluntary adoption case challenging the provisions of the Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act (MIFPA) allowing for notice and intervention of a child’s tribe in the proceedings. While the court states that the case presented Constitutional questions, the proceedings were moot and did not meet the standard for capable of repetition but evading review to keep the case live. There’s a nice discussion of that standard for practitioners who have been wondering how that might work in a child welfare case.

Plaintiffs have 30 days to file a notice of appeal if they so choose.

This is the last of the summer 2015 batch of federal ICWA challenges filed. All of them were ultimately dismissed. Carter v. Washburn is currently on appeal to the 9th Circuit.

Doe v. Jesson, now Piper, Partially Survives Motion to Dismiss

Here. This is the federal case challenging the Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act.

The Court finds that it has jurisdiction to hear the Does’ complaint, but only against the government defendants. The Court will dismiss Commissioner Moose from the case because he is a tribal officer and not a state officer; does not enforce MIFPA; and is not restricted by the constitutional clauses at issue here. But even though the Court may proceed to the merits of the Does’ complaint against the government defendants, the Court will not decide the merits now. The parties necessarily and understandably devoted nearly all of the briefs to the numerous preliminary issues. Although the jurisdictional questions were well briefed, the Does’ equal protection and due process claims received less attention than they deserved. Accordingly, in deciding these motions the Court will express no opinion on the merits – only on the preliminary matters. It may be that Defendants’ positions on the merits are correct – or incorrect – but those questions will be decided another day.

Federal Court Denies Preliminary Injunction in Challenge to Minnesota’s Indian Child Welfare Statute

Here is the order in Doe v. Jesson (D. Minn.):

42 DCT Order Denying PI

Pleadings TK:






We posted the complaint here.

Constitutional Challenge to Parts of Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act

Here is the complaint in Doe v. Jesson (D. Minn.):

1 Complaint

An excerpt:

25. MIFPA defines an “Indian child” as “an unmarried person who is under age 18 and is: (1) a  member of an Indian tribe; or (2) eligible for membership in an Indian tribe.” Minn. Stat. 260.755, subd. 8. By contrast, ICWA defines an Indian child as either “(a) a member of an Indian tribe or (b) is eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and is the biological child of a member ofan Indian tribe.” 25 U.S.C. 1903(4) (emphasis added).

26. Many Indian tribes have only blood quantum or lineage requirements as prerequisites for membership. See, e.g., Paul Spruhan, The Origins, Current Status, & Future Prospects ofBlood Quantum as the Definition ofMembership in the Navajo Nation, 8 Tribal L.J. 1, 5 (2007); see also Rev. Const. & Bylaws of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Minnesota, art. II, 1(c) (child eligible ifborn to a member and child is at least one quarter Minnesota Chippewa Indian blood). The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe is a member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. Id. at art. III.

27. Unlike ICWA, the Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act, facially and as applied, gives Indian tribes the right under the color of state law to interfere with voluntary, private adoptions.

Title VII Reverse Discrimination Complaint against Mille Lacs’ Grand Casino Hinckley Dismissed

Here are the materials in Harshe v. Grand Casino Hinckley (D. Minn.):

Magistrate R&R re Harshe Complaint

DCT Order Dismissing Harshe Complaint

Minnesota COA Reverses Lower Court on Tribal Jurisdiction Issue

Baffles me why this is unpublished….

Here is the opinion in Nason v. 1991 Buick.

The tribal interest in self-governance rests with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Indians-both the incident leading to the forfeiture proceeding and the seizure of respondent’s vehicle took place on the Mille Lacs Reservation. Because respondent is enrolled in the Fond du Lac Band, the Mille Lacs Band’s interest in self-governance is not as strong over respondent. We reject respondent’s argument that we should consider the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe as a whole when assessing the strength of the interest in self-governance; that argument was considered and rejected by the supreme court in Davis, and we find nothing to distinguish respondent’s case from Davis.

Based on the state’s strong interest of promoting safety on state roads and the weaker tribal interest in self-governance present in this case, we conclude that a forfeiture proceeding against respondent in state court is not preempted by federal or tribal interests. We therefore conclude that the state has subject-matter jurisdiction to hear the forfeiture action involving respondent’s vehicle.