indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Falmouth Institute - December in Las Vegas
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

Printer friendly version
Mont. court accepts tribal court convictions
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 25, 2003

Tribal court records can be used against tribal members in state courts, the Montana Supreme Court ruled this week.

In a near unanimous decision, the court recognized four tribal court DUI convictions of Eugene Spotted Eagle, a member of the Blackfeet Nation. The vote in Monday's ruling was 5-1.

"To disregard a valid tribal court conviction would imply that Montana only recognizes the Blackfeet Tribe's right to self-government until it conflicts with Montana law," wrote Justice James C. Nelson for the majority.

The decision means that Spotted Eagle faces a felony, rather than a misdemeanor, sentence for a September 2001 drunk driving incident. State law allows prosecutors to "enhance" a DUI charge using tribal court records.

Spotted Eagle challenged the law on the grounds that the Blackfeet court system does not provide him with adequate protections under the U.S. Constitution. In Blackfeet court, for example, criminal defendants are not guaranteed a right to be represented by a lawyer. In state court, Spotted Eagle would be covered under the Sixth Amendment.

But the state countered that it should respect a tribe's right to self-governance. "A fundamental aspect of sovereignty is the respect accorded a sovereign by other sovereigns," wrote assistant attorney general Mark W. Mattioli in a brief. "Spotted Eagle's assertions that his prior DUI convictions were valid for purposes of tribal law, but not for purposes of Montana or federal law, is to accord second-class status to tribal sovereignty."

The majority of the Montana Supreme Court agreed with this line of thinking, noting that the state law in question is not used to determine guilt. But a dissenting judge questioned this logic and said he would have sided with Spotted Eagle.

"In true oxymoronic fashion, our court has said to Mr. Spotted Eagle, 'Out of deference to your tribe, we accord you fewer protections than guaranteed to individual citizens by the Montana Constitution,'" wrote Justice W. William Leaphart.

The Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 provides certain guarantees to tribal members, many of which follow the U.S. Constitution. But it doesn't force tribes to comply with a Sixth Amendment right to counsel or a First Amendment separation of church and state.

Get the Decision:
State v. Spotted Eagle (June 23, 2003)

Relevant Documents:
Briefs, Opinions in State v. Spotted Eagle (State Law Library of Montana)

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Choctaw Nation Trial:
Choctaw Nation releases statement after guilty verdict in case (11/21)
Former Choctaw Nation employee found guilty after lengthy trial (11/21)
Trial on Choctaw Nation fraud winds down with final testimony (11/21)
Leader of Choctaw Nation faces tough questions in fraud trial (11/21)
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux youth to join White House meet (11/21)
Obamas welcome youth from Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to DC (11/21)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Tax disparities remain in Indian Country (11/21)
ICT interview with DOI deputy secretary on Cobell buy-backs (11/21)
Oglala Sioux Tribe rounds up dogs after deadly attack on girl (11/21)
North Dakota tribe in negotiations for pipeline to curb flaring (11/21)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe passes language to new generation (11/21)
Blog: Play-by-play of election controversy on Navajo Nation (11/21)
Column: Theories link Thanksgiving to 1637 Pequot massacre (11/21)
Editorial: Work with Burns Paiute Tribe on land-into-trust bid (11/21)
BIA publishes notice of Karuk Tribe Class III gaming compact (11/21)
Oklahoma reports drop in gaming exclusivity fees from tribes (11/21)
Pala Band gears up for official launch of Internet gaming site (11/21)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux woman shot and killed by police (11/20)
Mark Trahant: Lakota honor song wasn't out of place in Senate (11/20)
Dog attack blamed for death of eight-year-old girl at Pine Ridge (11/20)
DOI issues status report on Cobell land consolidation program (11/20)
Greg Grey Cloud explains Lakota honor song after Senate vote (11/20)
Steven Newcomb: Disestablishing the doctrines of domination (11/20)
Sen. Mark Begich: Moving forward for the first people of Alaska (11/20)
Bill Richardson: Indian Country feels effects of climate change (11/20)
Smithsonian: Sand Creek Massacre of 1864 won't be forgotten (11/20)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe sues South Dakota over sales tax (11/20)
Morongo Band distributes 10K turkeys for Thanksgiving meals (11/20)
GAO report looks at tribal implementation of Adam Walsh Act (11/20)
FBI opens background check database to tribal law agencies (11/20)
Survey shows most Americans wouldn't use R-word in person (11/20)
USDA Blog: Youth from Angoon Tribe carry on their traditions (11/20)
Editorial: County and critics must stop fighting Chumash Tribe (11/20)
Editorial: Oklahoma Indian museum benefits the entire state (11/20)
Muscogee Nation finally starts work on $365M gaming project (11/20)
Two tribes making push for off-reservation casino in California (11/20)
Mashantucket Tribe hires new executive for gaming operation (11/20)
Opinion: Catawba Nation makes a sneak attack with casino bid (11/20)
Opinion: Poarch Creek gaming deal won't help state's economy (11/20)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne activists push for change (11/19)
Mark Trahant: Historic election in Alaska with Native candidate (11/19)
Audio: Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on child trauma (11/19)
Republicans hold up action on Alaska tribal jurisdiction measure (11/19)
DOI official to give update on Cobell land consolidation program (11/19)
Center for Native American Youth hosts panel discussion in DC (11/19)
Sen. Heitkamp to host panel on child trauma in Indian Country (11/19)
Gyasi Ross: Police shootings aren't just a 'people of color' issue (11/19)
Steven Newcomb: Focusing on liberation and self-determination (11/19)
Crow Creek Sioux man arrested as Senate rejects Keystone bill (11/19)
Leader of Tunica-Biloxi Tribe hit with prescription drug charges (11/19)
Performance sheds light on 'purchase' of Lenape island in 1626 (11/19)
Alaska Supreme Court hears dispute over tribal court authority (11/19)
Editorial: Put end to 'futile' taxation dispute with Chehalis Tribe (11/19)
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.