Gila River Indian Community Letter to NACDL re: Bryant Amicus Brief


NACDL US v Bryant 04-15-16

An excerpt:

I am writing to you to express the Gila River Indian Community’s concerns regarding the Brief Amici Curiae of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Experienced Tribal Court Litigators in Support of Respondent (“Brief’) recently filed with the Supreme Court of the United States in United States v. Bryant (No. 15-420). The Brief makes numerous attacks on the Community’s criminal justice system, hasty generalizations regarding tribal justice systems, and omits relevant facts and conclusions regarding the Community.

The stated purpose of the Brief is “to draw upon amici’s knowledge and experience with tribal-court criminal litigation to give this Court an informed perspective from which to assess these claims.” Brief at 4 (emphasis added). Unfortunately, the Brief does not do so. Instead, it reads as a narrative and anecdotal attack on tribal justice systems, prominently including the Community. These attacks on the Community’s criminal justice system have often come in a third-party form, such as letters from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and National Association of Federal Defenders to members of Congress regarding proposed legislation. Despite prominent mention of the Community, these letters- and the Brief-were not provided to the Community when sent or filed. We suspect it may have to do with the favorable outcomes to the Community in the cases discussed in the Brief.

Briefs and other materials in this case are here.

Navajo Tribal Member Case in Supreme Court — Begay v. United States

Briefs and other materials are below the fold.

From SCOTUSWiki:

[Earlier this year], the Court granted certiorari in two cases that will examine the range of predicate convictions that qualify a person for elevated sentences under the Armed Career Criminal Act of 1984 (the “ACCA”). The ACCA imposes a minimum 15 year sentence, and authorizes a term of life imprisonment, for a person convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm if that person has been previously convicted on three separate occasions for a “violent felony” or “serious drug offense.” The act defines “violent felony” to include any adult crime punishable by at least one year’s imprisonment that “is burglary, arson, or extortion, involves use of explosives, or otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another.” This last clause is referred to as the “otherwise” or “residual” clause. The ACCA also defines “serious drug offense” to include offenses under state law “involving manufacturing, distributing, or possessing with intent to manufacture or distribute, a controlled substance . . . for which a maximum term of imprisonment of ten years or more is prescribed by law.”

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