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
Dynamic Homes
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...

Latest Headlines:

The Conversation: The toxic legacy of uranium mining in United States
Failed Indian Health Service nominee lashes out after being abandoned
Winnebago Tribe sees boost in home ownership as more return to rez
YES! Magazine: Promoting reparations for Indigenous & Black farmers
Cronkite News: Students stage walkout to call for reform of gun laws
Tribes take Wind River Reservation boundary case to Supreme Court
Northern Cheyenne Tribe returns ousted leader to office with new vote
Peoria Tribe prepares for election as long-time leader faces challenge
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe waits for Trump team's decision on casino
Nominee for Indian Health Service drops out amid doubts about record
Tribes see continued challenges as more cases head to highest court
Supreme Court ends conservative attack on Indian Child Welfare Act
Washoe Tribe plans to expand offerings at casino with new compact
Bill John Baker: Cherokee Nation makes strides in health care system
Graham Lee Brewer: Native man's death opens old wounds in Canada
YES! Magazine: Let's learn from states where gun violence has fallen
Former Lummi Nation chairman Larry Kinley passes on at age of 71
Oglala Sioux Tribe eyes investigation into misuse of education funds
Most 'isolated' towns are near reservations in Montana and Nevada
Top Indian positions in Trump administration remain without leaders
Agency that targeted tribal lenders in line for even more big changes
Osage Nation citizen wins vote as mayor of Oklahoma's largest city
Standing Rock Sioux citizen lands Native history position at Harvard
Indictment cites 'wokeaztec' account in Russian influence campaign
Matika Wilbur: A modern world doesn't erase indigenous intelligence
Cronkite News: Students plan national walkout in bid for gun reform
Kevin Noble Maillard: I took 7th grade students to see 'Black Panther'
Chumash Tribe security officers involved in fatal shooting at casino
Yavapai-Apache Nation finally ready to open 122-room casino hotel
Maine lawmaker seeks court ruling to help tribes with casino plans
Mark Trahant: Another Native woman aims to make history in 2018
Sylvia Chi: Indigenous activists lead energy divestment movement
Mark Maxey: A fight for indigenous rights and environmental rights
Tribes battle state of South Dakota over removal of Indian children
National Congress of American Indians leader slams 'fugitives' bill
Trump budget includes funds to assist six newly-recognized tribes
National Congress of American Indians wraps up big winter session
Cronkite News: Lawmakers question management of Indian schools
Trump administration continues to back Indian Health Service pick
Lac du Flambeau Band ties recent murder to gangs and drug dealers
Bill affirms Alabama-Coushatta Tribe and Tigua Tribe gaming rights
San Pasqual Band hears concerns about digital billboard at casino
Tribal leaders cheer surprise speaker as meeting in D.C. winds down
Sen. Elizabeth Warren at the National Congress of American Indians
Indian Health Service budget promises funding for opioid epidemic
National Congress of American Indians kicks off big winter session
Tribes looking for more support to pass controversial sovereignty bill
Trump administration includes Indian schools in infrastructure plan
Witnesses for Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on Census
Mark Trahant: White House sends messages with its new budget
Cronkite News: Tribes call for respect for their sovereignty in D.C.
National Congress of American Indians: State of Indian Nations
Sen. Tom Udall delivers response to the State of Indian Nations
>>> 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.