Leech Lake driver loses state jurisdiction case
A member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe who was stopped for a traffic violation on the Mille Lacs Ojibwe Reservation can face charges in state court, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

David Michael Davis was stopped by a Mille Lacs tribal officer who was acting as a peace officer pursuant to state law. He was ticketed for speeding and failing to provide proof of insurance.

David said the state lacked jurisdiction because he is an Indian who committed an offense in Indian Country. He said he should be subject to tribal court jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court disagreed. Since Davis is not a member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, the court said tribal sovereign rights are not at issue.

"Thus, if Davis were a member of the Mille Lacs Band, the interest in tribal self-governance would be directly served through the Band's enforcement of its laws against one of its members in its tribal court for conduct that occurred on the reservation. But Davis is not a member of the Mille Lacs Band and so operation of state law to Davis' on-reservation conduct does not infringe on the Band's self-governance interest," the court said.

Justice Alan Page filed a dissent. He noted that Davis is a member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, which includes the Leech Lake Band and the Mille Lacs Band.

"The MCT is the governing unit federally recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the individual bands such as the Leech Lake Band and the Mille Lacs Band are merely 'component reservations' of the MCT. Indian Entities Recognized and Eligible To Receive Services From the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs," Page wrote. "Yet the court concludes with little explanation that the MCT has no tribal interest in self-governance. Nor does the court cite any authority for the distinction it makes between Indian tribes and Indian bands."

Get the Story:
Mille Lacs Reservation / High court rules against speeder (The St. Paul Pioneer Press 9/10)

Minnesota Supreme Court Decision:
Minnesota v. Davis (September 10, 2009)