indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Falmouth Institute Online Training
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...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Sisseton Wahpeton fighter gets big chance (4/22)
Native Sun News: Pine Ridge man behind Revolution Couture (4/22)
CDC reports show high death rates among Native Americans (4/22)
DOI Secretary Sally Jewell delivers keynote at tribal summit (4/22)
DOI Deputy Secretary Mike Connor hosts Earth Day webchat (4/22)
Winona LaDuke: Tribes won't see benefits from Keystone XL (4/22)
Photos: Cowboy Indian Alliance rides to National Mall in DC (4/22)
Alray Nelson: Bring marriage equality to the Navajo Nation (4/22)
Steven Newcomb: UNDRIP falls into domination framework (4/22)
DaShanne Stokes: 'Indian' mascots carry harmful impacts (4/22)
Wendell George: Little Joe connects with his tribal heritage (4/22)
Peter Twitchell: Stop passing the buck on our Yup'ik culture (4/22)
Murray Sinclair: Effects of residential school era will linger (4/22)
Wyoming tribes share per cap from $157M trust settlement (4/22)
Navajo Nation Council reconsiders higher tax on junk foods (4/22)
Choctaw Nation Chief Greg Pyle set to retire after 17 years (4/22)
Opinion: Maps represent destruction of Native people in US (4/22)
Oneida Nation to host PGA championship at resort in 2016 (4/22)
Blog: Climate change impacts Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations (4/22)
Supreme Court holding onto ruling in Bay Mills casino case (4/22)
Paskenta Band says leadership issues won't affect casino (4/22)
Forest County Potawatomi Tribe on track with casino hotel (4/22)
Deadline approaches for commercial casinos in New York (4/22)
Native Sun News: Keystone XL Pipeline foes headed to DC (4/21)
Native Sun News: Shoni Schimmel is a role model for youth (4/21)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee to hold hearing on energy (4/21)
Supreme Court takes no action on Indian tobacco petition (4/21)
Linda Capps: Citizen Potawatomi Nation is a good neighbor (4/21)
Bryan Brewer: Supreme Court discriminates against tribes (4/21)
Michell Hicks: Eastern Cherokees return to gardening roots (4/21)
Lisa Charleyboy: Still looking for love under the Indian Act (4/21)
Kiara Imani Williams: Tribal ID dismissed in nation's capital (4/21)
Henry Louis Gates: The myth of African and Indian ancestry (4/21)
DOI looks to spend $2.55M on Makah Nation land buy-back (4/21)
Pascua Yaqui Tribe faces a test of jurisdiction under VAWA (4/21)
State Department needs more time to review Keystone XL (4/21)
Fracking trucks take water from North Dakota reservation (4/21)
Lens Blog: An Indian from India meets Indians from the US (4/21)
Alaska Legislature passes Native language recognition bill (4/21)
Alaska Natives seek return of property for museum at Yale (4/21)
Opinion: Double standard in treatment of Shoshone sisters (4/21)
Column: Frank Waln blends Native traditions with hip-hop (4/21)
Native man's murder trial delayed due to jury roll problem (4/21)
Minneapolis city council to vote on Columbus Day change (4/21)
Opinion: Washington NFL team makes money off racial slur (4/21)
Los Coyotes Band praises action on off-reservation casino (4/21)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe cites ruling in gaming lawsuit (4/21)
Mohegan Tribe reports decline in casino revenue and profit (4/21)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | 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.