Home > News > More Headlines > Mont. court accepts tribal court convictions
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

Stay Connected

On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud

More Headlines

Lakota Country Times: Governor lectures tribe about sacred lands (5/3)
Native Sun News: Navajo Nation chapter sues tribe over water deal (5/3)
Vi Waln: Rosebud Sioux Reservation plagued by abuse and assault (5/3)
James Giago Davies: Propaganda machine protects racist mascot (5/3)
Cronkite News: Sports teams turn to tribes for naming rights deals (5/3)
Steven Newcomb: Tricking the original nations into reconciliation (5/3)
Rosebud man selected as leader of South Dakota State University (5/3)
Klamath Tribes report results of election for leadership positions (5/3)
Leaders of Louisiana tribes in conflict over $48M relocation grant (5/3)
Choctaw Nation ordered to pay $11M for casino bus crash deaths (5/3)
Arizona reports 5.1 percent decline in casino revenue from tribes (5/3)
Timbisha Shoshone Tribe casino up for discussion at city meeting (5/3)
Schaghticoke Tribal Nation hoping to keep gaming lawsuit going (5/3)
Blackfeet Nation welcomes Interior Secretary Jewell to homeland (5/2)
Native Sun News: Family confronts man linked to woman's death (5/2)
Lakota Country Times: State shows cards in fight over sacred site (5/2)
Clara Caufield: Living in a state of emergency on my reservation (5/2)
Mark Trahant: Native newspapers and presidential endorsements (5/2)
Mark Charles: Politicians haven't learned from our genocidal past (5/2)
Kevin Washburn: Land buy-back program benefits Indian Country (5/2)
Ruth Hopkins: Tell indigenous youth that their lives really matter (5/2)
Peter d'Errico: Suicides are outcome of intergenerational trauma (5/2)
Indian Health Service reaches agreements for troubled facilities (5/2)
Native girl survives night alone in forest with help of three dogs (5/2)
Gathering of Nations wraps up with crowning of Miss Indian World (5/2)
University leader doesn't see seal that excludes Natives as racist (5/2)
New bill takes aim at casinos opposed by rival tribes in California (5/2)
Cloverdale Rancheria wins approval of casino land-into-trust bid (5/2)
Mashpee Wampanaog Tribe overcomes hurdles with casino plan (5/2)
Cowlitz Tribe aims to hire locals as casino construction continues (5/2)
Gathering scheduled in June at site of former BIA insane asylum (4/29)
Native Sun News: Tribal college student overcomes challenges (4/29)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Ancestors are gone but language lives on (4/29)
Mike Rounds: Eliminate 'hateful' and 'paternalistic' federal laws (4/29)
Harlan McKosato: White privilege fuels Donald Trump's fanbase (4/29)
Indian Health Service faulted for lengthy waits for patient care (4/29)
Mescalero Apache woman to compete for Miss United States (4/29)
Environmental Protection Agency pays little to tribes for spill (4/29)
Measure to declare bison as official mammal ready for Obama (4/29)
John Wayne's negative views about tribes resurface in debate (4/29)
Chumash Tribe picks Kenneth Kahn as first new leader in years (4/29)
Mille Lacs Band announces upgrades as casino marks 25 years (4/29)
Timbisha Shoshone Tribe sees warmer reception to casino bid (4/29)
Florida racks up legal bills in gaming fight with Seminole Tribe (4/29)
Rosebud Sioux Tribe sues Indian Health Service over shutdown (4/28)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee approves eight bills at meeting (4/28)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe to debut justice center (4/28)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne official fired from tribal job (4/28)
Native Sun News: Comments sought on Black Hills mine cleanup (4/28)
Editorial: Native Sun News endorses Hillary Clinton for president (4/28)
Cronkite News: EPA slammed for response to Gold King Mine spill (4/28)
Steve Russell: Donald Trump advisor accuses tribes of terror plot (4/28)
Alex Jacobs: Hillary Clinton must answer to role in Honduras coup (4/28)
Northwest tribes inch closer to reburial of Kennewick Man remains (4/28)
Santee Sioux Tribe hosts task force to address substance abuse (4/28)
Huge crowds flock to New Mexico for annual Gathering of Nations (4/28)
Muckleshoot Tribe to host $50K 'Gold Cup' for Indian relay racing (4/28)
more headlines...

Advertisement

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.