Federal Court Dismisses ICRA Habeas Petition Challenging Enhanced Sentence under TLOA

Here are the materials in Picard v. Colville Tribal Correction Facility (E.D. Wash.):

1 Habeas Petition

15 Answer

15-5 Colville Appellate Court Opinion

21 DCT Order

Chehalis COA Decides Criminal Matter involving Tribal Law and Order Act

Here is the opinion in Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation v. Lyons. An excerpt:

For the reasons set forth above, we hold that the trial court committed reversible error by admitting the Sexual Assault Report Form without providing the defendant the  opportunity to confront the author of the Report. We further hold that the criminal laws and rules of evidence of the Chehalis Tribe were not publicly available prior to the charging of the defendant in this case as required for the Tribe to exercise the enhanced sentencing authority permitted by the federal Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010.

New Student Scholarship on the Tribal Law and Order Act

Seth J. Fortin has published “The Two-Tiered Program of the Tribal Law and Order Act” (PDF) in the UCLA Law Review Discourse.

Here is the abstract:

The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 was intended to significantly expand the sentencing powers of tribal courts, raising the maximum sentence for a given offense from one year to three. But the Act requires courts that would take advantage of these new powers to provide significant procedural protections to criminal defendants, while failing to provide the funding most tribal courts would need to make those protections a reality. Moreover, the Act leaves vague and open to interpretation the precise form those protections should take, which is an open invitation to federal courts to scrutinize tribal court procedure; this, in turn, may put tribal courts in the position of choosing between longer sentences and retaining their traditional character. These two obstacles—lack of funding, and the danger to tribal courts’ unique character— mean that the Act is likely to sort tribes into two “tiers”: wealthier or more assimilated tribes will be able to take advantage of the longer sentences, while tribes that cannot afford (whether financially or culturally) to change their practices will be left unable to adequately sentence serious offenders. And because of the way the Act resolves a longstanding ambiguity in Indian law, some tribes in the latter group may be left with less sentencing power than they had previously.

Columbia Law Review Article on Constitutionality of VAWA/TLOA-Type Statutes

Zachary S. Price has published “Dividing Sovereignty in Tribal and Territorial Criminal Jurisdiction” in the Columbia Law Review.

Here is the abstract:

In both federal Indian law and the law regarding United States territories, the Supreme Court in recent decades has shown increasing skepticism about previously tolerated elements of constitutionally unregulated local governmental authority. This Article proposes a framework for resolving constitutional questions raised by the Court’s recent cases in these areas. Focusing on the criminal context, where the stakes are highest both for individual defendants and for the affected communities, this Article considers three issues: (1) whether and under what circumstances Congress may confer criminal jurisdiction on tribal and territorial governments without requiring that those governments’ enforcement decisions be subject to federal executive supervision; (2) whether double jeopardy should bar successive prosecution by both the federal government and a tribal or territorial government exercising federally authorized criminal jurisdiction; and (3) what, if any, constitutional procedural protections apply when a tribal or territorial government exercises criminal jurisdiction pursuant to such federal authorization.

Through close examination of these three questions, this Article aims to show that framing the analysis in terms of divided sovereignty, and recognizing the close parallels between tribal, territorial, and related federal-state contexts, may yield the most attractive resolutions that are viable in light of the Supreme Court’s recent decisions. This Article contrasts this approach with an alternative framework that would organize the analysis around a distinction between “inherent” and “delegated” governmental authority.

Looks like a fascinating paper from a former OLC attorney. Will study with interest.

Umatilla Tribal Court Hands Down 27 Month Sentence under TLOA’s Enhanced Sentencing Rules


From Brent Leonhard:

Just to clarify a few things about the story:

The info isn’t entirely accurate, but it isn’t too far off. If the BOP doesn’t pick up the tab, the Tribe will have to pay for incarceration and we contract with Umatilla county – not federal prison. Also, I’m fairly sure we are the first to implement felony sentencing (we did it in March of 2011). Finally, this was the third person sentenced to more than a year for a felony offense, but the first to have jail time imposed of over a year for a single offense. (The other two had 3 years imposed but all but 6 months was suspended in one and all but 3 months suspended in the other – with 3 years of probation and the suspended time hanging over their heads).

The big issue is whether the BOP Pilot Project will accept our referral on the 27 month imposed jail sentence so the feds will eat the cost and house him in their system. I’m waiting to hear back on that.