FIU Law Review Symposium on the History of S. Fla. Tribes

Here. A description:

This symposium examines the history of the present day Indian tribes in South Florida commencing with the early Seminole Wars. Indian tribes are uniquer governmental entities enjoying inherent sovereignty over a wide range of issues and conduct. The tribal nations in South Florida are no different. This Symposium explores the legal status of tribal governments through in-depth examination of their histories.

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.

Illinois Court of Appeals Decides ICWA Tribal Intervention Appeal

Here is the opinion in In re K.T.

An excerpt:

Respondent is the mother of K.T. K.T. is a member of the Seminole Indian tribe. The State filed a juvenile petition alleging that K.T. was neglected because her environment was  injurious to her welfare, in part, as a result of respondent’s behavior. At respondent’s combined adjudication and dispositional hearing, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) notified the court that K.T.’s Indian tribe was interested in becoming a party to the case. Respondent then moved for a continuance so that the tribe could enter the case. The trial court denied respondent’s motion. We reverse and remand.

News Coverage of Government’s Comparison of Seminole Tribe to al Qaeda

Here, from the Miami Herald, via How Appealing. Here is the link to the government’s brief not objecting to the NCAI letter.

An excerpt:

Pentagon prosecutors touched off a protest — and issued an apology this week — for likening the Seminole Indians in Spanish Florida to al Qaeda in documents defending Guantánamo’s military commissions.

Citing precedents, prosecutors reached back into the Indian Wars in arguments at an appeals panel in Washington D.C. Specifically, they invoked an 1818 military commission convened by Gen. Andrew Jackson after U.S. forces invaded then-Spanish Florida to stop black slaves from fleeing through a porous border — then executed two British men for helping the Seminole Indians.

Navy Capt. Edward S. White also wrote this in a prosecution brief:

“Not only was the Seminole belligerency unlawful, but, much like modern-day al Qaeda, the very way in which the Seminoles waged war against U.S. targets itself violate the customs and usages of war.”

A native American advocacy group complained to the military court. Defense lawyers for two Yemenis convicted of war crimes at Guantánamo countered that the behavior of Jackson, the future U.S. president now on the $20 bill, was no shining example of American military justice.

A politically ambitious Jackson, defense lawyers wrote, waged “an illegal war” that set fire to entire Indian villages “in a campaign of extermination.”

In the legal precedent, U.S. troops convicted two British traders, Alexander Arbuthnot and Robert Ambrister, for helping the Seminoles and escaped slaves and sentenced them to a whipping. Jackson, a slave owner, declared the punishment too soft. He had them executed.

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Oklahoma Ct. of Criminal Appeals Holds that Seminole Parcel Not Indian Country

In Magnan v. State, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals concluded that a parcel of land in which Seminole Indians retained 4/5 of mineral rights was still no longer Indian Country. The case is interesting for two reasons. First, the whole debate about Indian Country:

This Court considered a similar question in Murphy v. State, 2005 OK CR 25, 124 P.3d 1198.  In Murphy, a murder occurred on a state road that at one time had been Indian allotted land.  Over time, the surface estate on which the road was located, and 11/12ths of the mineral estate, had been conveyed to non-Indians.  Applying a contacts and interests analysis analogous to the familiar “minimum contacts” test set out in International Shoe Co. v. State of Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316, 66 S.Ct. 154, 158, 90 L.Ed. 95 (1945), the Murphy court concluded that the Oklahoma’s contacts and interests in the surface property overwhelmed any fractional interest the Indian heir of the original allottee owned in the unseen mineral estate.  According to Murphy, that conclusion was necessary because allowing an unobservable fractional interest to control the enforcement of laws on the surface of a property would lead to a checkerboard of alternating jurisdictions that would seriously burden the administration of state and local governments.  Murphy, ¶¶ 42-43, 1206.  Murphy held, therefore, that a fractional interest in an unobservable mineral interest is a contact with the surface estate that is insufficient to deprive the State of Oklahoma of criminal jurisdiction.  Id. ¶ 42, 1206.

But more amazingly, the court had the benefit of a federal court case reaching the same outcome 10 years earlier regarding the same property!:

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Seminole Tribe Per Caps Sufficient to Cover Child Support

The Florida Court of Appeals held that the Seminole tribe’s per capita payments are sufficient to relieve at least one father of child support obligations. Here is the opinion in Cypress v. Jumper.

H/T Falmouth

PPI v. Kempthorne – Denial of Injunction against Seminole Hard Rock Bingo

Here is the order re: PPI’s request for an injunction in light of the Florida House v. Crist ruling. It was denied — once again, my favorite rule — Rule 19 — came into play. [Thanks to T.W.]


PPI’s complaint and request for an injunction is here.