Other briefs TK
Lower court materials here.
Here are the relevant materials in Brice v. Stinson (N.D. Cal.):
Plaintiffs seek summary judgment on defendants’ third affirmative defense; that some defendants are protected by or some claims extinguished by tribal immunity. In their opposition, defendants admit they personally “are not entitled to assert or invoke sovereign immunity as a defense to these claims” but nonetheless argue plaintiffs’ litigation “of these claims against shareholders of entities providing contractual services to those lenders is a significant infringement on the sovereignty of the tribes. . . . .” Dkt. No. 197 at 22. Defendants miss the point. The claims here hinge on the personal conduct of the defendants. While that conduct is based in significant part on the services defendants personally engaged in or approved to be provided to the Tribes, the claims do not impede on the sovereignty of the Tribes where the Tribes are not defendants in this case and no Tribal Entities remain. Absent apposite caselaw or facts showing how this action “interferes with the purpose or operation of a federal policy regarding tribal interests,” tribal immunity is irrelevant to this action.
Here is the order in JW Gaming Development LLC v. James (N.D. Cal.):
Shortly after judgment was entered in this case, PPN constituted its Tribal Court for the first time; there is no evidence that it ever existed in any meaningful way until then. Days after the newly appointed judge issued standing orders, PPN filed a civil complaint in that Tribal Court that seeks to (1) declare the judgment issued in this case invalid, (2) limit and control—indeed, vitiate—the scope of enforcement of that judgment, and (3) impose roughly eleven million dollars in liability on JW Gaming for alleged fraud stemming from the same loan agreement here. The lawsuit names not only JW Gaming but its attorneys in this matter and the bank at which PPN maintains accounts that was recently subpoenaed in the course of enforcement of the judgment. It is the first (and, as far as the record shows, only) case brought in the Tribal Court. Remarkably, up until the eve of the hearing on a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) against the proceeding, which I ultimately denied, JW Gaming could not find publicly available information about how appear in that proceeding (despite being served with a summons), who the judge was, or what the rules were.
JW Gaming moved for an order to show cause why an injunction should not issue, which I denied. It then moved for the TRO, which I converted into a motion for a preliminary injunction once PPN’s counsel committed to placing the Tribal Court proceeding on hold. That motion is now ripe for decision.
It is critical that federal courts respect tribal sovereignty and tribal court jurisdiction. Tribes are sovereign nations. Their ability to govern themselves and enjoy the full benefits of sovereignty is unquestioned. Tribal courts, as arms of the tribe, are entitled to substantial comity and deference under established federal law. I previously denied JW Gaming’s motion for an order to show cause why an injunction should not issue out of these concerns. I remain vigilant about the compelling interest that PPN has in maintaining its sovereignty.
Those concerns, however, do not prevent an injunction against a Tribal Court proceeding that seeks to invalidate or interfere with the judgment entered in this Court. There are compelling interests in ensuring that enforcement of valid federal-court judgments is not interfered with, that JW Gaming is not required to litigate a lawsuit precision-engineered to invalidate and interfere with this one, and that third parties are not exposed to court orders or liability for simply enforcing a judgment or attempting to comply with the procedures for enforcing it. To the extent the lawsuit seeks to invalidate the judgment or interfere with enforcement, it is unquestionably meritless: a tribal court lacks authority to invalidate a federal court’s judgments or to dictate the scope of executing that those judgments. JW Gaming has shown it is entitled to a preliminary injunction to the extent that the Tribal Court proceedings attempts to invalidate, interfere with, or thwart the judgment entered here. I possess jurisdiction to enter this injunction to protect and effectuate the judgment. The doctrine of tribal court exhaustion does not apply because PPN exercised its sovereign power to clearly, expressly, and unequivocally waive it.
Briefs and related materials here.
Plaintiffs have standing to bring this case. Plaintiffs here include the largest federally recognized tribes in California and in the United States, a coalition of dozens of tribes located in California, a foster youth and foster care alumni organization in Alaska, and three organizations from around the country that work with LGBTQ+ foster youth and/or youth who have experienced sex or labor trafficking. Each of these Plaintiffs works to improve the living conditions of youth in child welfare systems and to reduce the chance they will end up homeless, incarcerated, or otherwise severely harmed while in care. The data that Defendants have abandoned are irreplaceable for the efficacy of these efforts. The 2020 Final Rule substantially impedes Plaintiffs’ ability to pursue their missions. It makes it harder for tribes to vindicate their and their children’s rights and to protect their children’s well-being. Likewise, the rule makes it more difficult for groups serving youth in care, including LGBTQ+ youth, to address the overrepresentation of those youth in the foster care population and to prevent their disproportionately negative experiences. The 2020 Final Rule thus injures Plaintiffs—along with the vulnerable children they serve.
The MSU Indian Law Clinic represents the plaintiffs in this case along with our excellent partners, Democracy Forward and Lambda Legal.