indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Appeals court allows cigarette prosecution despite treaty
Friday, October 24, 2008
Filed Under: Business | Law

Members of the Yakama Nation of Washington can't be prosecuted under a tobacco contraband law but they can face charges for racketeering, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday.

In May 2007, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals set precedent and ruled that the Yakama Treaty of 1855 bars tribal members from being charged under the federal Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act. The unanimous decision said the treaty preserves the right for Yakamas to bring goods to the public market without being taxed.

But in a new case, the 9th Circuit said tribal member Roger Fiander can be prosecuted for transporting cigarettes under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The court said the Yakama man conspired with non-tribal members who aren't protected by the treaty.

As a result, while Fiander can't be prosecuted "for a substantive violation of the CCTA because of his status as a member of the Yakama Nation, he may be prosecuted for a RICO conspiracy in which the racketeering activity is contraband cigarette trafficking," Judge A. Wallace Tashima, a nominee of President Bill Clinton, wrote for the majority.

The decision revives an indictment against Fiander that had been dismissed by Judge Robert H. Whaley of the Eastern District of Washington. Whaley had thrown out the racketeering charges, citing the May 2007 precedent in US v. Smiskin.

Smiskin is one in a series of cases that focused on the Yakama Treaty of 1855. For the most part, the 9th Circuit has sided with tribal members by ruling that the "Right to Travel" provision of the treaty protects their right to engage in business activities like selling cigarettes or harvesting timber without state interference.

But officials in Washington say business owners on the Yakama Nation are skirting state and federal law by selling cigarettes without state taxes. Earlier this year, the state canceled its tobacco compact with the tribe.

The tribe, along with several business owners on the reservation, responded with a lawsuit in federal court last month. The Yakamas are again citing the 1855 treaty, as well as the 9th Circuit's decisions, to prevent the state from imposing its tobacco tax on Indian retailers. No decisions have been reached in the case.

Officials in Washington has gone after Indian retailers across the state, seizing millions of dollars in tobacco products. The state contends it has a right to collect taxes on the sale of goods to non-Indians.

In Smiskin, the 9th said there are ways for the state to collect taxes without trampling on Yakama Nation's treaty. "As the [Supreme] Court noted, states have a number of 'adequate alternatives' available to enforce taxes on cigarettes sales to non-Indians by tribal members," the court said, pointing to government-to-government negotiations.

Peter Mahoney, a member of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe of Idaho, was convicted for doing business with Fiander. In an unpublished opinion, the 9th Circuit last week said he could be prosecuted under the Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act.

"The Coeur d'Alene Tribe, of which Mahoney is a member, is not a signatory to any treaty containing language analogous to the travel provision discussed in Smiskin," the October 16 decision stated.

9th Circuit Decisions:
US v. Fiander (October 23, 2008) | US v. Mahoney (October 16, 2008)

9th Circuit Precedent:
US v. Smiskin (May 18, 2007)

Related Stories:
Yakama Nation sues over tobacco compact (9/5)
Washington cancels Yakama Nation tobacco compact (7/8)
Yakama Nation judge blocks tobacco compact (2/5)
Yakama Nation sued over tobacco tax compact (01/17)
Editorial: Yakama cigarette deal good for all (12/19)
Yakama treaty protects smokeshop owners from prosecution (5/21)
State to terminate Yakama cigarette compact (2/9)
Judge hears case against tribal tobacco retailers (11/15)
Court to hear Yakama tobacco smuggling case (10/17)
Court: Tribal members must pay federal tax (9/12)



Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Tribes mount another fight after Trump approves another pipeline (3/24)
Native Sun News Today: Navajo elders continue long fight on land (3/24)
Editorial: Just another day of trying to keep up with the Trumps (3/24)
Elizabeth LaPensée: Video games encourage indigenous culture (3/24)
Mary Annette Pember: Native women work with youth offenders (3/24)
Tiffany Midge: Trump continues to conjure hero Andrew Jackson (3/24)
John Kane: Seneca Nation money train coming to end in New York (3/24)
Grand Ronde Tribes secure approval of school mascot agreement (3/24)
Editorial: Federal recognition for tribes in Virginia is long overdue (3/24)
Seneca Nation ends casino payments after sending $1.4B to state (3/24)
Appeals court hears slew of Indian cases amid focus on nominee (3/23)
Internal tribal disputes continue to trip up federal court system (3/23)
Mark Trahant: Indian health care gains ignored in political debate (3/23)
Native Sun News Today: Young fighters maintain Lakota tradition (3/23)
Ivan Star Comes Out: America loses its self-respect and humanity (3/23)
Rosalyn LaPier: Why water remains sacred to indigenous peoples (3/23)
Winona LaDuke: North Dakota spreads filth about water protectors (3/23)
Harold Monteau: Tribal governments are abusing their own people (3/23)
Alex Jacobs: Donald Trump in middle of the 'deep state civil war' (3/23)
Secretary Zinke announces 'doggy days' for Interior Department (3/23)
Keystone XL Pipeline route crosses Ponca Tribe's forced removal (3/23)
Indian lawmaker resigns after being charged for child prostitution (3/23)
Pinoleville Pomo Nation buys site of long-delayed casino project (3/23)
High court pick acknowledges poor treatment of 'sovereign' tribes (3/22)
Dakota Access submits another status update entirely under seal (3/22)
Court allows claim for alleged underpayment in Cobell settlement (3/22)
South Dakota tribes continue to extend Class III gaming compacts (3/22)
Cowlitz Tribe secures approval to offer liquor as casino debut nears (3/22)
Native Sun News Today: Community project continues at Pine Ridge (3/22)
Cronkite News: Copper mine on sacred site complains about delays (3/22)
Mary Annette Pember: Awareness for missing and murdered sisters (3/22)
Stacy Pratt: Visiting the gravesite of Andrew Jackson in Tennessee (3/22)
Murder charge filed for fatal shooting of Navajo Nation police officer (3/22)
Muckleshoot Tribe still seeking answers for fatal shooting by officer (3/22)
Hopland Band submits claim for county raid of marijuana operation (3/22)
Chukchansi Tribe sued for $21M by gaming development company (3/22)
Seminole Tribe accused of breaking contract with outlet at casino (3/22)
Indian Child Welfare Act survives attack from conservative groups (3/21)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs schedules hearing on diabetes (3/21)
Ponca Tribe hosts 282-mile walk to retrace trail of forced removal (3/21)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.