Court bars Washington from applying state law at treaty site
The state of Washington can't enforce its criminal laws against tribal members at a treaty site on the Columbia River, the Washington Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday.

The state charged Lester Ray Jim, a member of the Yakama Nation, with the unlawful use of a net and retaining an undersized sturgeon. He had been fishing at the Maryhill Treaty Access Site during a commercial fishing season.

Even though the site is not on the reservation, Jim successfully argued that Congress set it aside for the tribe's benefit. As a result, the state lacks jurisdiction, the court ruled.

"[W]hen land is declared by Congress to be for the benefit of the Indians it is a reservation for the purposes of federal criminal jurisdiction," the decision stated, pointing to three rulings from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that addressed Yakama fishing issues.

The state is considering an appeal.

Get the Story:
Ruling limits wildlife officers’ authority over tribal fishing (The Yakima Herald-Republic 5/12)

Court Decision:
Washington v. Jim (May 11, 2010)