Tenth Circuit Sides with Ute Indian Tribe in Dispute with State and Counties over Indian Country Criminal Jurisdiction

Here is the opinion in Ute Indian Tribe v. State of Utah:


An excerpt:

In our layered system of trial and appellate courts everyone’s assured at least two chances to air a grievance. Add to this the possibility that a lawsuit might bounce back to the trial court on remand or even rebound its way to appeal yet again — or the possibility that an issue might win interlocutory review — and the opportunities to press a complaint grow abundantly. No doubt our complex and consuming litigation wringer has assumed the shape it has so courts might squeeze as much truth as possible out of the parties’ competing narratives. But sooner or later every case must come to an end. After all, that’s why people bring their disputes to court in the first place: because the legal system promises to resolve their differences without resort to violence and supply “peace and repose” at the end of it all. S. Pac. R.R. Co. v. United States, 168 U.S. 1, 49 (1897). For a legal system to meet this promise, of course, both sides must accept — or, if need be, they must be made to respect — the judgments it generates. Most people know and readily assent to all this. So it’s pretty surprising when a State and several of its counties need a reminder. But that’s what this appeal is all about.


A system of law that places any value on finality — as any system of law worth its salt must — cannot allow intransigent litigants to challenge settled decisions year after year, decade after decade, until they wear everyone else out. Even — or perhaps especially — when those intransigent litigants turn out to be public officials, for surely those charged with enforcing the law should know this much already. Though we are mindful of the importance of comity and cooperative federalism and keenly sensitive to our duty to provide appropriate respect for and deference to state proceedings, we are equally aware of our obligation to defend the law’s promise of finality. And the case for finality here is overwhelming. The defendants may fervently believe that Ute V drew the wrong boundaries, but that case was resolved nearly twenty years ago, the Supreme Court declined to disturb its judgment, and the time has long since come for the parties to accept it.

Briefs here.

Materials on Alleged Extortion by Ute TERO Office

Here are the relevant materials submitted in Ute Indian Tribe v. State of Utah (D. Utah):

238 Duschene Cty Counterclaim

271 Ute Motion to Dismiss Counterclaim

294 Duschene Cty Opposition to Motion to Dismiss

306 Ute Reply in Support of Motion to Dismiss

417 Ute Motion for Summary J

470 Duschene Cty Response to Motion for Summary J

481 DCT Order on Motion to Dismiss

The order:

At a hearing on January 10, 2013, with all parties present, this matter came before the Court on a Rule 12(b) motion filed by the Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, Dkt. 271, to dismiss the counterclaims filed by Duchesne County, Dkt. 239. The Court, having considered the parties’ briefs and oral arguments, rules that Count 1 of the counter-complaint is dismissed with leave to Duchesne County to file an amended pleading within 20 days; the racketeering claims under Count 2 are dismissed for being facially deficient and failing to state a cause of action; and the Court denies the motion to dismiss the remaining claims under Counts 2 through 5 of the counterclaim.

713 Duschene Cty Supplement

771 Duschene Cty Supplement

My sense is that Judge Jenkins is waiting for the Tenth Circuit to decide other matters to make a decision on the tribe’s motion for summary judgment on Duchesne County’s counterclaim. That appeal involves the tribe’s claim that the state and counties are illegally prosecuting tribal members under state law.

In the motion for summary judgment, the tribe is arguing that Article III courts have no jurisdiction, or in the alternative the county must first exhaust tribal remedies.

Tenth Circuit Briefs in Ute Indian Tribe v. State of Utah


Ute Indian Tribe Brief

Utah Answer Brief

Wasatch Appellees Brief

Duchesne County Answer Brief

Uintah County Answer Brief

Ute Indian Tribe Reply

Lower court materials here and here.

Update in Ute Indian Tribe-Uintah County-State of Utah Jurisdictional Dispute

Here are the new materials in Ute Indian Tribe v. Utah (D. Utah):

222 Ute Indian Tribe Motion to Dismiss Uintah County Counterclaim

249 Uitah County Opposition to 222

250 Uintah County Motion to Dismiss

270 Tribe Motion to Dismiss Utah’s Counterclaim

278 Tribe Motion to Dismiss Uintah County Amended Counterclaim

279 Tribe Reply re 222

282 Tribe Response to 250

284 Utah Response to 270

289 Uintah Reply re 250

295 Uintah County Response to 278

300 Tribe Reply re 270

321 Tribe Motion to Dismiss 3rd Party Complaint

335 Ute Indian Tribe Motion for Partial Summary J 458 Utah Motion for Partial Summary J

461 Uintah County Motion for Summary J

535 Ute Indian Tribe Opposition to 461

582 DCT Order re: 222, 250, 270, 321

Ute Indian Tribe Sues State of Utah over State Prosecutions of Tribal Members for On-Reservation Conduct

Here are the materials so far in Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation v. State of Utah (D. Utah):

2 Complaint

3 Motion for PI

News coverage here.