Environment | Law

Minnesota appeals court rejects claim of non-Indian fisherman





A non-Indian man who was convicted of violating the state's fishing laws wasn't unfairly prosecuted, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday.

Stephen Fellegy intentionally caught a walleye out of season on Lake Mille Lacs. He said he was protesting the state's failure to prosecute tribal members who were allegedly caught fishing out of season on an entirely different lake.

The court, however, said Fellegy failed to show how his constitutional rights were violated. Members of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe are protected by a treaty, the decision noted.

"Put another way, Fellegy’s claim that the Ojibwe avoid prosecution 'solely based on skin color and ethnic origin' is obviously flawed; the tribe members avoid prosecution because, based on the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, the tribe’s right under its treaty with the United States supersedes the state’s authority to prevent its members from taking fish from Lake Mille Lacs," the court wrote.

Fellegy initially represented himself in the case, resulting in some procedural miscues that the court also addressed in its decision.

Get the Story:
Appeals Court: Angler not prosecuted unfairly for illegal catch (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 7/12)

Minnesota Court of Appeals Decision:
Minnesota v. Fellegy. (July 11, 2012)