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
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
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:
Native Sun News: Pine Ridge actors make a splash with new film (5/29)
Ernestine Chasing Hawk: Let's change the image of 'Racist City' (5/29)
Miccosukee Tribe joins Native youth announcement at DOI in DC (5/29)
Kurt Luger: It's time to put an end to the Indian wars in America (5/29)
Summer Montileaux: Silence on sexual abuse in Indian Country (5/29)
John Guenther: Protecting Indian children and protecting ICWA (5/29)
Kerry Hawk Lessard: Urban Indians come together in Baltimore (5/29)
Lydia Millet: Selling off sacred Apache land to foreign interests (5/29)
Stuart Delery: Safeguarding voting rights of the first Americans (5/29)
Student from Navajo Nation competes in national spelling bee (5/29)
Navajo Nation to vote on fluency requirements for candidates (5/29)
Cherokee Nation signs hunting and fishing compact with state (5/29)
Onondaga Nation player earns top lacrosse award for 2nd year (5/29)
Wisconsin Supreme Court rules for Oneida Nation in permit case (5/29)
School district in Wisconsin bans clothing with 'Indian' mascots (5/29)
Republican former congressman Dennis Hastert hit with charges (5/29)
Court allows lawsuit against gaming officials of Pechanga Band (5/29)
Another lawsuit seeks to block Jamul Band from $360M casino (5/29)
Bill for one more tribal casino in Connecticut sent to governor (5/29)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe shares another $2.7M in gaming funds (5/29)
Native Sun News: Ex-Rapid City police chief admits erasing tape (5/28)
Omaha Tribe surprised by appeal in reservation boundary case (5/28)
Mary Annette Pember: Historical trauma might affect Native DNA (5/28)
Erik Stegman: Native youth subjected to racism and stereotypes (5/28)
Charges announced in big drug trafficking ring in Indian Country (5/28)
Osage Nation expects to see offers from land buy-back program (5/28)
Voters of Red Cliff Band show support for some uses of marijuana (5/28)
Maine tribes assert sovereignty and sever relationship with state (5/28)
Navajo Nation sees larger numbers of sand dunes on reservation (5/28)
Mille Lacs Band plans public hearing on proposed energy pipeline (5/28)
Michigan tribes warn of disaster from pipeline spill in Great Lakes (5/28)
Coquille Tribe completes acquisition of 3,200 acres of forestland (5/28)
Spiritual leader of Lipan Apache Tribe back in court over feathers (5/28)
Lumbee Tribe to appeal findings of misuse of federal HUD funds (5/28)
Nebraska ends death penalty in historic and close veto override (5/28)
Tohono O'odham Nation chooses new leader amid casino conflict (5/28)
Poarch Creeks file lawsuit over taxes imposed on gaming facility (5/28)
Connecticut tribes counting up votes on bill for one more casino (5/28)
Comanche Nation closed casino for one day to address flooding (5/28)
Native Sun News: EPA hears Native views about uranium mining (5/27)
Renae Yellowhorse: Navajo Nation can't cede power to outsiders (5/27)
Donna Loring: Politicians circle the wagons around Maine tribes (5/27)
David Treuer: Andrew Jackson turned on Cherokee Nation allies (5/27)
NCAI responds to criticism from Rep. Young on land-into-trust (5/27)
Lawsuit challenges constitutionality of Indian Child Welfare Act (5/27)
Hopi Tribe seeks to prevent auction of sacred property in France (5/27)
Indian students face harsh punishment at public schools in Utah (5/27)
Menominee Nation school sees dramatic rise in graduation rate (5/27)
Poarch Creeks planning family-friendly entertainment at project (5/27)
Coquille Tribe names executive at economic development entity (5/27)
Cherokee law students eager for summer work on Indian issues (5/27)
USDA sends $125K to Indian economic development corporation (5/27)
County by Pine Ridge Reservation receives justice service grant (5/27)
Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick to challenge Sen. John McCain in 2016 race (5/27)
Law Article: Indian inmate wins religious rights suit in Wisconsin (5/27)
Alaska Native corporation holds election for five seats on board (5/27)
Blood Tribe combats rise in abuse of extremely dangerous drug (5/27)
First Nations housing program brings just 99 homes to reserves (5/27)
Supreme Court won't hear challenge to Graton Rancheria casino (5/27)
Kialegee Tribal Town given extension to respond in gaming case (5/27)
Quapaw Tribe looks to dispel concerns about casino in Arkansas (5/27)
Pokagon Band faces hurdles in plan to develop casino in Indiana (5/27)
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.