Law

Law Article: Ruling supports tribal court system in New Mexico





" Federal and state laws have consistently upheld tribal jurisdiction in a variety of cases concerning Indian self-government within Indian country. Tribal jurisdiction is especially important in New Mexico, since there are 19 Pueblos, two Apache tribes, and the Navajo Nation in the state.

As in all states, the Indian tribes and pueblos in New Mexico retain sovereign immunity whereby generally suits against members of tribes and pueblos for accidents occurring within tribal boundaries, including personal injury and wrongful death claims, must be brought in tribal court. This holds true even in case of an auto accident occurring on state road running through Indian lands.

The New Mexico Court of Appeals in Hinkle v. Abeita recently held that tribal courts have exclusive subject matter jurisdiction over a tort claim against an Indian defendant for an accident occurring on a state highway inside Indian country."

Get the Story:
Collins & Collins: Tribal Immunity Can Extend to Car Accidents on New Mexico State Roads (JDSupra 11/19)

New Mexico Court of Appeals Decision:
Hinkle v. Abeita (May 10, 2012)