New Mexico COA Certifies Tribal Gaming/Immunity Cases to New Mexico SCT

Here is the order in Sipp v. Buffalo Thunder Inc.:

36924 and 38636 Certification Order (FINAL)

The question certified:

[W]hether the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), 25 U.S.C. §§ 2701-2721 (2018), permits tribes and states to contract in Tribal-State Class III Gaming Compacts to shift jurisdiction over certain matters to state courts.

New Mexico SCT Affirms Tribal Immunity from Property Claims (UPDATED with briefs)

Here is the opinion in Hamaatsa Inc. v. Pueblo of San Felipe.

An excerpt:

The Pueblo of San Felipe (Pueblo) appeals from an opinion of the New Mexico Court of Appeals declining to extend the Pueblo, an Indian tribe, immunity from suit. Because it is settled federal law that sovereign Indian tribes enjoy immunity from suit in state and federal court—absent waiver or abrogation by Congress—we reverse the Court of Appeals with instructions for the district court to dismiss the suit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Lower court decision here.

We would love to post the briefs in this case. Please send along.


Hamaatsa Answer Brief to Tribal Amici

Hamaatsa Answer Brief

Response Brief of Amicus Curiae NMLTA

SF Brief in Chief

SF Reply Brief

SF Reply to NMLTA Amicus Brief

Tribal Amicus Brief

New Mexico SCT Holds Cross-Deputized Tribal Officer Covered by New Mexico Tort Claims Act When Enforcing State Law

Here is the opinion in Loya v. Gutierrez.

An excerpt:

Given New Mexico’s highways that traverse both state and tribal lands, it is not uncommon that a tribal police officer patrolling those highways may be commissioned as a deputy county sheriff to arrest non-Indians and prosecute them in state court when they commit state traffic offenses on tribal land. In light of those recurring facts, we determine a county’s legal obligation when a non-Indian, arrested by a tribal officer and prosecuted in state court for state traffic offenses, sues the arresting tribal officer for federal civil rights violations. More particularly, we decide when the county has an obligation under the New Mexico Tort Claims Act, NMSA 1978, §§ 41–4–1 to –29 (1976, as amended through 2009) (NMTCA), to provide that tribal police officer with a legal defense in the federal civil rights action. The district court as well as our Court of Appeals found no such legal duty, in part because it concluded that the tribal officer was not a state public employee as defined in the NMTCA. We hold to the contrary, finding clear evidence in the text and purpose of the NMTCA requiring the county to defend the tribal officer, duly commissioned to act as a deputy county sheriff, under these circumstances endemic to the New Mexico experience.

We now have the briefs (5/21/15):

County Answer Brief

Gutierrez Brief in Chief

Gutierrez Reply Brief

Gutierrez Response to NMAC Brief

Gutierrez Supplemental Authorities Letter

NMAC Amicus Brief

New Mexico Supreme Court Holds State Officers May Transport Navajo Members Off Reservation for Chemical Testing

Here is the opinion in State v. Charlie:

State v Charlie

An excerpt:

In summary, the testimony that the Navajo Nation enabled cross-commissioned State Police officers to transport Navajos off the reservation for chemical testing to investigate Navajo Code violations was unopposed. Defendants instead argued that in spite of this testimony, extradition protocols had to be followed. They erred as a matter of law because no extraditions occurred. In addition, because Defendants’ only argument for lack of jurisdiction erroneously relied on the purported need to follow Navajo extradition procedures, the Court of Appeals erred in reversing the district court decisions on bases that exceeded the scope of review. As a result, we reverse the Court of Appeals.

New Mexico SCT Affirms Decision to Recognize Mt. Taylor as Cultural Property

Here is the opinion in Rayellen Resources Inc. v. Lyons.

An excerpt:

We accepted certification from the Court of Appeals to review the decision of the New Mexico Cultural Properties Review Committee to recognize approximately 400,000 acres of public land on Mount Taylor as a registered cultural property under the New Mexico Cultural Properties Act. We affirm in part the Committee’s decision and hold that the  Mount Taylor listing was lawful under the Cultural Properties Act and that the proceedings before the Committee did not violate the constitutional guarantee of due process of law. We reverse the Committee’s inclusion of 19,000 acres of Cebolleta Land Grant property and hold that land grant property is not state land as defined in the Cultural Properties Act.

We posted on this case a while back here.

Federal Court Rules in Favor of Pueblo of Santa Ana in Challenge to Alleged Waiver of State Court Immunity in Gaming Compact

Here are the materials in Pueblo of Santa Ana v. Nash (D. N.M.):

52 — Pueblo Motion for Summary J

55 — Judge Nash Response

63 — Pueblo Reply to Judge Nash

65 — Mendoza Response

69 — Pueblo Reply to Mendoza

90 — DCT Order

91 — Judgment

An excerpt:

Specifically, the Court hereby enters a declaration that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, 25 U.S.C. § 2701, et seq. (“IGRA”) does not authorize an allocation of jurisdiction from tribal court to state court over a personal injury claim arising from the allegedly negligent serving of alcohol on Indian land, and further that the New Mexico State District Court does not have jurisdiction in the case of Gina Mendoza, Michael Hart and Dominic Montoya v. Tamaya Enterprises, Inc., d/b/a Santa Ana Star Casino, CIV 2007-005711 (“underlying state court litigation”).

Prior federal court order and materials here.

New Mexico SCT Orders Equitable Tolling of Statute of Limitations on Worker’s Comp Claim against Pojoaque Police Dept.

Here is the opinion in Schultz v. Pojoaque Tribal Police Dept. (N.M.).

An excerpt:

{1} On August 17, 2002, Pojoaque Tribal Police Officer Kevin Schultz drowned while rescuing a twelve-year-old boy from the Rio Grande near Pilar, New Mexico. On the day of the accident, Schultz had taken the day off from work to chaperone a group of children from his church on a recreational outing. This case arose when Schultz’s  widow, Cheryl, filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits resulting from her husband’s death, but only after the statute of limitations had expired.

{2} Notwithstanding the late filing, Mrs. Schultz contends that the conduct of the Pojoaque Tribal Police Department (police department or employer) caused her to file after the deadline, and thus, we should consider her complaint timely filed pursuant to NMSA 1978, Section 52-1-36 (1937) (as amended through 1989) of the Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act), entitled “Effect of failure of worker to file claim by reason of conduct of employer.” This particular statute goes to the heart of Mrs. Schultz’s appeal.

{3} Both the Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) and the Court of Appeals decided that Mrs. Schultz’s complaint was not timely filed. For the reasons that follow, we  reverse and remand to the Court of Appeals for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.