Iowa SCT Affirms State Criminal Jurisdiction; Magistrate Judge Richard Vander Mey Had Barred Tribe/State from Invoking Jurisdiction of His Court [updated]

Here is the opinion in State v. Stanton:


An excerpt:

Upon review of the complaints, a magistrate concluded that recent federal legislation removed state jurisdiction for crimes committed on the Settlement. As a result, the magistrate dismissed the three pending misdemeanor charges and assessed costs against the Meskwaki Nation. The magistrate further advised that the Tama County Sheriff should consult with the county attorney to determine whether prisoners such as the defendant should even be received and retained in custody by the Tama County Sheriff. The district court further stated that tribal police officers should be instructed by tribal judicial officers to cease and desist from charging persons with violations of the Iowa Code as such charges “will only serve to clog state courts and result in the imposition of court costs upon the Meskwaki Tribe for cases which must be dismissed.”




Resistance to Application for Discretionary Review [Vander Mey pleading]

Sac and Fox Amicus Brief

US Amicus Brief

Federal and tribal amicus briefs not available. If anyone has them, please send to me. Would also love to read the lower court opinion.

Judge Vander Mey is a repeat player on TT. In 2011, mad about the Iowa Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision, he refused to accept the tribe’s immunity defenses in civil actions. He was removed from the bench for a time, but then reinstated.

In 2017, Vander Mey again refused to acknowledge tribal sovereignty in another civil suit.

Tama County, Iowa Magistrate Vander Mey “Back in the Saddle”

Reinstated to full duties, that is. The judge reversed an earlier order relating to a drunk driving arrest by Meskawki tribal police, but apparently not the order relating a tribal immunity defense in small claims court (see our post here).

Here is the news article.

An excerpt:

In one of the court actions, Vander Mey has now reversed the dismissal of a drunken driving charge he made on May 5.

He has directed Starla Fawn Durnin, rural Tama, to appear before Magistrate Ann Kuhter today (Tuesday, May 24) for an initial appearance on the charge.

Durnin continued to be held in the Tama County Jail in Toledo last Friday on an unrelated probation violation charge and a public intoxication charge filed after Vander Mey threw out the drunken driving charge.

He dismissed the drunken driving charge after Durnin was not brought to court for an initial appearance within 24 hours of her arrest by Meskwaki Nation Tribal Police.

Update on Iowa Magistrate that Lambasted Tribal Immunity

In short, he’s been suspended, at least partially. Here is the news clip.

And an excerpt:

It is unknown if the action is linked to either of two rulings made recently by Vander Mey which garnered headlines.

On April 20, Vander Mey handed down a ruling in a small claims case which found the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa was not sovereign and could be ordered in Iowa Magistrate Court to pay the small claim for money owed to a pit boss who had been fired by the Tribal-owned Meskwaki Bingo • Casino.

On May 5, Vander Mey ordered a drunken driving suspect released because she was not brought before the court within 24 hours of her arrest by Meskwaki Nation Tribal Police. He ruled this violated the defendant’s right to a court appearence according to the Iowa Code.

That ruling has been appealed by Assistant Tama County Attorney Niki A.S. Whitacre.

And a link to the ruling that started this.