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
Native American Bank - Native people investing in Native communities
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Supreme Court to rule on tribal-federal prosecution
Wednesday, October 1, 2003

The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Tuesday that it will resolve whether tribal governments have inherent sovereignty over all American Indians, not just members of their own tribes.

In a case with national significance, the justices accepted an appeal filed by the Bush administration. The Department of Justice is arguing that dual tribal and federal prosecution of Indian offenders does not violate the U.S. Constitution's ban on double jeopardy.

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded otherwise and said that an Indian man who pleaded guilty in tribal court could not be tried for the same offense in federal court. A divided panel of judges voted 7-4 in March to strike down a federal indictment against Billy Jo Lara on charges that he punched a police officer on the Spirit Lake Reservation in North Dakota.

But the 9th Circuit arrived at a different conclusion in June 2001. In an 11-0 decision that escaped review by the Supreme Court, a full panel of judges said tribes who prosecute members of other tribes are exercising sovereignty independent of the federal government.

The government is pushing for resolution of the conflict because the two circuits, along with the 10th, represent the "vast majority" of the American Indian and Alaska Native population. The 8th Circuit covers North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa while the 9th Circuit affects California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Montana, Idaho, Nevada and Alaska.

The 8th Circuit decision "undermines effective law enforcement in Indian Country," Solicitor General Ted Olson wrote in a July 22 brief.

Alexander F.�Reichert, the attorney representing Lara, disputes the ruling's impact. In an interview, he said it will encourage tribal and federal government to work together on reservations.

"What I think it's going to do is force more cooperation between U.S. attorneys, tribal prosecutors and tribal courts," he said yesterday. "It will force the federal authorities to take a close look at tribal courts and tribal jurisdiction."

Tribes across the country are interested in the case because it impacts their push to regain full authority over their lands. The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) plan to submit an amicus brief siding with the government, an NCAI spokesperson said yesterday

At issue is an amendment to the Indian Civil Rights Act (ICRA) of 1968. Known as the "Duro fix," it was passed in 1991 in response to the Supreme Court's Duro v. Reina, decision, which held that tribes lack criminal jurisdiction over members of other tribes.

The 8th Circuit interpreted the Duro fix as an extension of tribal jurisdiction, not a recognition of it. "The Spirit Lake Nation exercises authority over external relations only to the extent that such a power has been delegated to it by Congress," Judge Roger L. Wollman wrote in U.S. v. Lara.

The 9th Circuit determined that Congress acted appropriately to affirm tribal rights. "When a tribe exercises inherent power, it flexes its own sovereign muscle, and the dual sovereignty exception to double jeopardy permits federal and tribal prosecutions for the same crime," wrote Judge M. Margaret McKeown in U.S. v Enas.

Although not fully discussed in the government's brief, the 7th Circuit, in U.S. v. Long, has upheld the inherent jurisdiction of the Menominee Nation of Wisconsin even though the tribe's federal status was terminated and later restored by Congress.

Relevant Documents:
Docket Sheet: No. 03-107 (Supreme Court) | Briefs: U.S. v. Lara (NCAI/NARF Supreme Court Project)

Get the Decision:
8th Circuit: U.S. v. Lara (en banc) (March 24, 2003) | U.S. v. Lara (panel) (June 20, 2002)

Related Decisions:
9th Circuit: U.S. v. Enas (June 29, 2001) | 7th Circuit: U.S. v. Long (March 20, 2003) |

Relevant Links:
NCAI/NARF Supreme Court Project - http://www.narf.org/sc/index.html

Related Stories:
DOJ's Supreme Court brief backs sovereignty (7/30)
Tribal jurisdiction faces test before Supreme Court (07/03)
Court rulings on tribal jurisdiction are in conflict (04/16)
Inouye ties sovereignty to homeland security (02/25)
Tribes seek to overturn Supreme Court (2/27)
Native man denied by Supreme Court (01/22)
Court upholds dual tribal, federal prosecutions (7/2)

Copyright � 2000-2003 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.