2015 Federal Courts of Appeal Cases

Last updated: January 8, 2016

December

Jones v. Norton
809 F.3d 564
No. 14–4040
United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit.
Dec. 29, 2015
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis: Parents, on behalf of themselves and estate of deceased son, a tribal member, brought state court action against law enforcement officers, their government employers and private mortuary for claims arising from son's death. Action was removed. The United States District Court for the District of Utah, 3 F.Supp.3d 1170, entered summary judgment for defendants. Parents appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Briscoe, Circuit Judge, held that:
1) suspect was not seized due to officers' actions during encounter;
2) police officers did not use excessive force that shocked conscience, precluding excessive force claim;
3) treaties did not give parents private right of action enforceable through section 1983;
4) officers did not conspire to obstruct justice or violate son's civil rights;
5) mortuary apprentice did not intentionally inflict emotional distress (IIED) upon parents by making incision to draw blood from son's body; and
6) District Court did not abuse its discretion by denying request for sanction for alleged spoliation of numerous forms of evidence.

So ordered.

Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida v. Cypress
2015 WL 9310571
No. 14–12115
United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
Dec. 23, 2015.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought action alleging that former tribal chairman, director of finance, chief financial officer, tribe's former attorneys, and investment firm violated Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and state law by embezzling tribal funds for their personal use, charging excessive fees, and managing tribe's funds in manner allowing suspicious financial transactions to occur. Investment firm moved to compel arbitration. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, 2013 WL 2158422, granted motion. The remaining defendants moved to dismiss. The District Court, 975 F.Supp.2d 1298, granted motion. Tribe appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Melloy, Circuit Judge, held that:
1) alleged fraud upon authority of former chairman of tribe was issue to be raised in arbitration;
2) intra-tribal dispute doctrine was not triggered, and federal question jurisdiction existed; and
3) tribe failed to state RICO or RICO conspiracy claim.
Affirmed.

Flute v. U.S.
808 F.3d 1234
No. 14–1405
United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
Dec. 23, 2015.
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis: Descendents of victims of United States Army's 1864 massacre of certain bands of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indian tribes brought putative class action against federal government, Department of Interior (DOI), and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), alleging breach of trust and seeking accounting of reparation payments promised to their ancestors by treaty and award of funds found still owing. The United States District Court for the District of Colorado, Philip A. Brimmer, J., 67 F.Supp.3d 1178, dismissed the action. Descendents appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, McHugh, Circuit Judge, held that:
1) Department of Interior (DOI) Appropriations Act of 2009 that tolled running of applicable statute of limitations for claims “concerning losses to or mismanagement of trust funds” did not relieve descendents of independent obligation to identify unequivocal waiver of immunity or express consent to be sued;
2) Treaty of Little Arkansas and 1866 Appropriations Act did not create ongoing fiduciary obligations to descendents; and
3) descendents were not entitled to accounting.
Affirmed.

Pauma Band of Luiseno Mission Indians of Pauma & Yuima Reservation v. California
2015 WL 9245245
Nos. 14–56104, 14–56105
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Dec. 18, 2015.
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought suit against State of California, asserting claims of mistake and misrepresentation regarding amendment to tribal-state gaming compact entered under Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), and seeking injunctive relief. Indian tribe moved for summary judgment. The District Court for the Southern District of California, Cathy Ann Bencivengo, J., granted motion on misrepresentation claim. Tribe moved to vacate to request further relief, which was denied. State appealed, and tribe cross-appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Tallman, Circuit Judge, held that:
1) State misrepresented to tribe that no further licenses were available;
2) amendment was voidable and appropriate remedy was rescission and restitution;
3) State was not entitled to setoff for profits tribe gained from operating machines it would not have had absent amendment;
4) State's misrepresentation was innocent not fraudulent;
5) State waived sovereign immunity; and
6) language of IGRA precluded bad faith claim against State.
Affirmed.

Hopland Band of Pomo Indians v. Jewell
2015 WL 8610281
No. 14–15112
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Dec. 14, 2015.

Legal Topics: Indian Self–Determination and Education Assistance Act, Public Law 280

November

Sanders v. Anoatubby
2015 WL 7423038
No. 15–6116
United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
Nov. 23, 2015.

*Synopsis: Citizen of Chickasaw Nation, pro se, brought action against Nation's Division of Housing, asserting claims under Title VI and Title VII, based on allegations that she was wrongfully discharged and that she was being retaliated against, in her application for housing assistance, for having filed grievance against her supervisor. The United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, Vicki Miles–LaGrange, Chief Judge, granted Division's motion to dismiss. Citizen appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Terrence L. O'Brien, Circuit Judge, held that
(1) claims were barred under doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity, and
(2) Ex Parte Young doctrine did not apply to action.

Affirmed.

Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians v. Caballero
2015 WL 7293034
No. 13–15411
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Filed Nov. 19, 2015.

*Synopsis: Tribe brought action against alleged infringer, asserting claims of trademark infringement under the Lanham Act, and violation of the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, John A. Mendez, J., 2013 WL 504808, granted summary judgment in favor of tribe. Alleged infringer appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals held that:
1) tribe failed to provide evidence to maintain infringement claim, and
2) tribe failed to provide evidence to maintain cybersquatting claim.
Reversed and remanded.

Tohono O’odham Nation v. City of Glendale
2015 WL 6774044
Nos. 13–36165, 13–36166
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Filed Nov. 6, 2015

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought action against city and State of Arizona, challenging the constitutionality of a law that allowed a city or town within populous counties to annex certain surrounding, unincorporated lands, as preempted by the Gila Bend Indian Reservation Lands Replacement Act. The United States District Court for the District of Arizona, David G. Campbell, J., 2011 WL 2650205, granted summary judgment to the tribe. City and State appealed and tribe cross-appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, M. Smith, Circuit Judge, held that the Gila Bend Indian Reservation Lands Replacement Act preempted the Arizona annexation law.
Affirmed.

Related News Stories: U.S. appeals court, in latest ruling, upholds tribe's plan to open W.V. casino (YourWestValley) 11/6/15

October

Shinnecock Indian Nation v. New York
628 Fed.Appx. 54
Nos. 14–4445(L), 14–4447(CON).
United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.
Oct. 27, 2015.

Legal Topics: Nonintercourse Act; Waiver of Indian Tribe Sovereign Immunity

Pauma Band of Luiseno Mission Indians of the Pauma & Yuima Reservation v. California
2015 WL 6445610
Nos. 14–56104, 14–56105
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Filed Oct. 26, 2015.
Amended Dec. 18, 2015
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought suit against California, asserting claims of mistake and misrepresentation regarding amendment to tribal-state gaming compact entered under Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), and seeking injunctive relief. Indian tribe moved for summary judgment. The District Court for the Southern District of California, Cathy Ann Bencivengo, J., granted motion on misrepresentation claim. Tribe moved to vacate to request further relief, which was denied. California appealed, and tribe cross-appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Tallman, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) California misrepresented to tribe that no further licenses were available;
(2) amendment was voidable and appropriate remedy was rescission and restitution;
(3) California was not entitled to setoff for profits tribe gained from operating machines it would not have had absent amendment;
(4) California's misrepresentation was innocent not fraudulent;
(5) California waived sovereign immunity; and
(6) language of IGRA precluded bad faith claim against California.

September

U.S. v. Old Horn
626 Fed.Appx. 695
Nos. 14–30124, 14–30126, 14–30127
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Sept. 23, 2015.

*Synopsis: Defendants were convicted in the United States District Court for the District of Montana, Susan P. Watters, J., of mail fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, theft from an organization receiving federal funding, theft from an Indian tribal organization, extortion, and income tax fraud. Defendant appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals held that:
[1] evidence was sufficient to support defendants' conviction for mail fraud;
[2] sevidence was sufficient to support defendants' convictions for theft;
[3] evidence was sufficient to support conclusion that defendant intentionally falsified his expenses; and
[4] any error in failing to instruct jury on bona fide wages defense was harmless.

Affirmed.

Cobell v. Jewell
2015 WL 5474186
No. 14–5119
United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit
Decided Sept. 18, 2015.

*Synopsis: Class representatives petitioned for an award of class counsel's fees, expenses, and costs, and for an incentive award for class representatives themselves, following congressionally-approved $3.4 billion settlement in class action arising out of the Department of the Interior's misadministration of Native American trust accounts. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia granted petition in part and denied in part, and, Thomas F. Hogan, Senior District Judge, 29 F.Supp.3d 18, denied reconsideration. Class representatives appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Millett, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) district court order with respect to attorneys' fees and incentive awards did not become final and thus appealable until district court's denial of reconsideration;
(2) appeal was ripe for judicial review;
(3) district court properly compensated class representative for personal costs as part of representative's incentive award; and
(4) class representatives' claim that settlement authorized incentive award to compensate them for third-party costs was not procedurally barred.

Citizens Against Casino Gambling in Erie County v. Chaudhuri
802 F3d. 267
Nos. 11–5171, 11–5466, 13–2339, 13–2777
United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
Decided: Sept. 15, 2015.
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis: Organizations and individuals opposed to operation of Indian casino brought actions challenging National Indian Gaming Commission's (NIGC) approval of ordinance and amendments to ordinance that permitted Seneca Nation to operate casino on land it owned. The United States District Court for the Western District of New York, William M. Skretny, J., vacated ordinance approval and remanded ordinance to NIGC in first action, 471 F.Supp.2d 295, vacated amended ordinance in second action, 2008 WL 2746566, and dismissed case in third action, 945 F.Supp.2d 391. Parties filed cross-appeals.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Droney, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) Seneca Nation had jurisdiction over parcel;
(2) parcel constituted "Indian lands" within meaning of Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA); and
(3) parcel did not fall within scope of IGRA's gaming prohibition.

Cascadia Wildlands v. Bureau of Indian Affairs
2015 WL 5306321
Briefs and other Materials from Turtle Talk
No. 14–35553
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Filed Sept. 11, 2015.

*Synopsis: Environmental organizations brought action against Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) challenging approval of timber sale in national forest under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Coquille Restoration Act (CRA), which indian tribe intervened in as a defendant. The United States District Court for the District of Oregon, Michael J. McShane, J., 2014 WL 2872008, granted summary judgment to BIA and tribe. Environmental organizations appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Raymond C. Fisher, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) it was permissible for BIA to aggregate past and reasonably foreseeable future actions to create baseline from which to consider incremental impact of project, and
(2) objective listed in forest management plan, to protect an endangered species, was not a standard or guideline that BIA was required to comply with pursuant to CRA, and thus BIA did not violate CRA by failing to ensure project was consistent with recovery plan for endangered species.

United States v. Aubrey
2015 WL 5201800
No. 13–10510
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Filed Sept. 8, 2015

*Synopsis: Defendant, a general contractor on tribal construction project, was convicted of conversion or misapplication of property belonging to Indian tribal organization by the United States District Court for the District of Nevada, Kent J. Dawson, Senior District Judge, and he appealed both from his conviction and from sentence imposed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, N.R. Smith, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) as matter of first impression, tribal funds disbursed to general contractor on project to construct housing for members of tribe, even funds that were disbursed for completed construction work, continued to be "property belonging to any Indian tribal organization," as long as tribe maintained title to, possession of, or control over these funds
(2) evidence was sufficient to support defendant's conviction;
(3) forensic auditor who was called as witness to establish foundation for charts detailing the passage of funds through contractor's accounts did not have to be certified as expert;
(4) district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting summary charts; and
(5) defendant occupied "position of trust," as defined by the abuse-of-trust Sentencing Guideline.

Alabama v. PCI Gaming Authority
801 F.3d 1278
No. 14–12004
United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
Sept. 3, 2015.

*Synopsis: State brought action in state court against Indian tribal officials and gaming authority that was wholly owned by Indian tribe to enjoin gaming at casinos on Indian lands within state borders, which state argued were a public nuisance. Gaming authority and tribal officials removed action to federal court. The United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, W. Keith Watkins, Chief Judge, 15 F.Supp.3d 1161, dismissed. State appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Jill Pryor, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) gaming authority shared tribes immunity from suit;
(2) Congress did not intend to displace Ex Parte Young doctrine in Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), and thus tribal officials were not immune from suit;
(3) Indian casino was not located on state land, and thus tribal officials were immune from state's nuisance claim;
(4) amendment of state's complaint to challenge Secretary of Interior's taking of land into trust on behalf of tribe would have been futile; and
(5) as a matter of first impression, Congress did not intend to create an implied right of action that would have given states the right to sue tribal officials to enjoin a certain class of gambling on tribal land under IGRA.

August

Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Stranburg
799 F.3d 1324
Briefs and other materials from Turtle Talk
No. 14–14524
United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
Aug. 26, 2015.
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought action against executive director of state department of revenue challenging state's imposition of rental tax on rent paid to tribe by non-Indian lessees for use of commercial space at tribe's casinos and of utility tax on electricity delivered to tribe on tribal reservations. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Robert N. Scola, Jr., J., 49 F.Supp.3d 1095, granted tribe's motion for summary judgment. Director appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, N.R. Smith, Circuit Judge, held that:
1)The Court of Appeals, Rosenbaum, Circuit Judge, held that: 1 Indian Reorganization Act precluded state's imposition of rental tax on reservation land;
2) federal regulatory scheme preempted state's imposition of rental tax;
3) it lacked jurisdiction over argument that district court should have abstained, on comity grounds, from reaching merits;
4) district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to dismiss, on comity grounds, claim that tribe was exempt from state's imposition of rental tax;
5) legal incidence of state's tax on gross receipts from utility services fell on utility company; and
6) utility tax was not preempted.
Affirmed in part and reversed in part.

Related News Story: Seminole Tribe won't get to argue taxation case at Supreme Court (Indianz) 6/13/16, Seminole Tribe asks Supreme Court to hear tax case (Indianz) 4/8/16, 11th Circuit Decision Could Have Nationwide Effects (Law Week Colorado) 9/10/15

United States v. Decker
2015 WL 4999644
No. 14–10132
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Filed Aug. 24, 2015.
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis: Following denial of his motion for judgment of acquittal, 2014 WL 584991, Defendant was convicted in the United States District Court for the District of Nevada, Howard D. McKibben, Senior District Judge, of attempted aggravated sexual abuse and was sentenced to a 190-month prison term. Defendant appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals held that:
(1) indictment was not constructively amended;
(2) submission of jury instruction regarding alleged lesser-included offense of attempted sexual aggravated assault was proper; and
(3) obstruction of justice sentencing increase was warranted.

United States v. Webster
2015 WL 4760273
No. 14–1819
United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
Filed: Aug. 13, 2015.

*Synopsis: Defendant was convicted in the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska, Lyle E. Strom, J., of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, and was sentenced to 30 years' imprisonment. Defendant appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Benton, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) any variance with "on or about" date-range in defendant's indictment was harmless;
(2) indictment's failure to allege victim's Indian status did not render it defective; and
(3) as a matter of first impression, absence of tribal prosecution is not an element of statute providing federal jurisdiction for crimes occurring within Indian country between an Indian and a non-Indian.

Harvey v. Ute Indian tribe of the Uintah and Ouray reservation
2015 WL 4758958
No. 14–4089
United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
Aug. 13, 2015.

*Synopsis: Owners of non-Indian businesses brought Utah state-court action, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief with respect to Indian tribe's authority over such businesses operating on certain categories of land, and alleging that individuals affiliated with tribe's employment rights office had harassed and extorted owners, in violation of state law. Defendants removed action. The United States District Court for the District of Utah, Dee Benson, J., 2014 WL 2967468, granted owners' motion for remand to state court. Tribe appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Lucero, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) Court of Appeals declined to investigate further district court's characterization of its decision to remand;
(2) Court of Appeals could not examine whether district court was correct in determining that unanimity was lacking; and
(3) district court's remand order could be colorably characterized as based on lack of unanimity.

United States v. Escalanti
2015 WL 4747310
No. 10–10465
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Submitted Aug. 12, 2015.

*Synopsis: Defendant was convicted in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, Susan R. Bolton, J., of first-degree murder, felony murder, and kidnapping under the Indian Major Crimes Act (IMCA). Defendant appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals held that:
1) evidence was sufficient to support finding that defendant was Indian within meaning of IMCA at time of his crimes;
2) failure to instruct jury on test for Indian status under IMCA was not plain error; and
3) evidence was sufficient to establish that murder took place on tribal land, as required to support defendant's convictions of first-degree and felony murder under IMCA.
Affirmed.

Knight v. Thompson
797 F.3d 934
United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
No. 12–11926
Aug. 5, 2015
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis: Native American inmates brought action against Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC), challenging its male short-hair policy under Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). After bench trial, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, Nos. 2:93–cv–01404–WHA–CSC, 2:96–cv–00554–WHA–CSC, W. Harold Albritton III, Senior District Judge, 2012 WL 777274, adopting the report and recommendation of Coody, United States Magistrate Judge, entered judgment for Department. Inmates appealed. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court granted certiorari, vacated the judgment, and remanded for further consideration in light of Holt v. Hobbs.

*Holdings: On remand, the Court of Appeals, Harvey E. Schlesinger, District Judge, sitting by designation, held that:
(1) challenged policy furthered compelling interests, and
(2) challenged policy was least restrictive means of further those compelling interests.

Related News Stories: Native Americans lose fight for long hair in prisons (Dailynews724) 8/7/15

Cressman v. Thompson
798 F.3d 938
No. 14–6020
United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
Aug. 4, 2015.

*Synopsis: Citizen brought action against Oklahoma state officials, alleging that depiction of Native American shooting arrow towards sky on Oklahoma state vehicle license plates compelled citizen to communicate pantheistic message in violation of his First Amendment rights. After decision granting officials' motion to dismiss was reversed and remanded on appeal, 719 F.3d 1139, and after bench trial, the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, Joe Heaton, J., 2014 WL 131715, entered judgment in favor of officials. Citizen appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Holmes, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) citizen alleged injury in fact;
(2) even if license plate conveyed government message, citizen's First Amendment rights could still be implicated;
(3) image on license plate was not protected as pure speech;
(4) image qualified as symbolic speech on its reasonably observable message that Oklahoma's history and culture had been strongly influenced by Native Americans; and
(5) citizen did not disagree with message conveyed by image.

July

Organized Village of Kake v. United States Department of Agriculture
795 F.3d 956
No. 11–35517
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Filed July 29, 2015.
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis: Village and others brought action against Department of Agriculture, alleging that exemption of national forest from roadless rule violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and the state of Alaska intervened as a defendant. The United States District Court for the District of Alaska, John W. Sedwick, J., 776 F.Supp.2d 960, granted summary judgment to village. Alaska appealed. The Court of Appeals, Bea, Circuit Judge, 746 F.3d 970, reversed and remanded.

*Holdings: On rehearing en banc, the Court of Appeals, Andrew D. Hurwitz, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) Alaska demonstrated that it would suffer an injury in fact if roadless rule was implemented;
(2) Department did not provide substantial justification or a reasoned explanation for its change in policy; and
(3) roadless rule would remain in effect.

Tulalip Tribes v. Suquamish Indian Tribe
2015 WL 4509235
No. 13–35773
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Filed July 27, 2015.

*Synopsis: Tulalip Indian Tribes filed request for determination that the inland marine waters east of Admiralty Inlet but west of Whidbey Island, as well as Saratoga Passage, Penn Cove, Holmes Harbor, Possession Sound, Port Susan, Tulalip Bay, and Port Gardner, were not within Suquamish Indian Tribe's "usual and accustomed fishing grounds," as established by treaty between United States and Indian tribes in Western Washington under which tribes reserved the right to fish at all usual and accustomed grounds. The United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, Ricardo S. Martinez, J., 2015 WL 3504872, 2013 WL 3897783, granted Tulalip's summary judgment motion in part. Tulalip appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Paez, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) Suquamish Indian Tribe's treaty right of taking fish at "usual and accustomed fishing grounds and stations" was not intended to exclude waters east of Whidbey Island, and
(2) Suquamish Indian Tribe's treaty right was not intended to exclude waters west of Whidbey Island.

U.S. v. Zander
2015 WL 4503264
No. 13–4174
United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
July 24, 2015.

*Synopsis: Defendant was convicted in the United States District Court for the District of Utah, David Nuffer, J., 2013 WL 7394877, of mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and willful failure to file federal tax returns. Defendant appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, McKay, Circuit Judge. held that:
(1) evidence was sufficient to support defendant's conviction for mail fraud;
(2) evidence was sufficient to support defendant's conviction for wire fraud; and
(3) there was no evidence victim's payment of unemployment benefits was connected to defendant's convictions, as required to be included in restitution order.

Idaho v. Coeur D'Alene Tribe
2015 WL 4461055
Briefs and other Materials from Turtle Talk
No. 14–35753
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Filed July 22, 2015.

*Synopsis: State brought action to prevent Indian tribe from offering poker at its casino. The United States District Court for the District of Idaho, B. Lynn Winmill, Chief Judge, 49 F.Supp.3d 751, denied tribe's motion to dismiss and granted state's motion for preliminary injunction. Tribe appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Hawkins, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) tribe's sovereign immunity was abrogated by Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA);
(2) compact between state and tribe did not require that dispute be submitted to arbitration; and
(3) preliminary injunction was warranted.

Pit River Tribe v. Bureau of Land Management
2015 WL 4393982
No. 13–16961
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Filed July 20, 2015.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe and environmental organizations brought actions alleging that Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) continuation of geothermal leases violated Geothermal Steam Act, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), and federal government's fiduciary trust obligation to Indian tribes. After cases were consolidated, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, John A. Mendez, J., entered judgment on pleadings in BLM's favor, and plaintiffs appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Christen, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) tribe had standing to bring private cause of action under Geothermal Steam Act, and
(2) fact issues remained as to whether BLM used improper legal standard in continuing leases.

United States v. Zepeda
2015 WL 4080164
Briefs and other Materials from Turtle Talk
No. 10–10131
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Filed July 7, 2015.
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis: Defendant was convicted in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, Roslyn O. Silver, Senior District Judge, of conspiracy to commit assault with dangerous weapon and to commit assault resulting in serious bodily injury, assault resulting in serious bodily injury, assault with dangerous weapon, and use of firearm during crime of violence. Defendant appealed. The Court of Appeals, 738 F.3d 201, reversed and remanded, but subsequently granted rehearing en banc.

*Holdings: On rehearing en banc, the Court of Appeals, William A. Fletcher, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) under the Indian Major Crimes Act (IMCA), government had to prove only that the defendant has some quantum of Indian blood, whether or not traceable to a federally recognized tribe, overruling United States v. Maggi, 598 F.3d 1073;
(2) a defendant must have been an Indian at the time of the charged conduct under the Indian Major Crimes Act;
(3) a tribe's federally recognized status is a question of law to be determined by the trial judge;
(4) evidence at trial was sufficient to support the finding that defendant was an Indian within the meaning of the IMCA at the time of his crimes; and
(5) Defendant's prison term of 90 years and three months was reasonable.

United States of America v. Bryant
2015 WL 4068824
No. 12–30177
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
July 6, 2015.
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis: In prosecution for domestic assault within Indian country by habitual offender, the United States District Court for the District of Montana, Jack D. Shanstrom, Senior Judge, denied defendant's motion to dismiss indictment, and he appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Paez, Circuit Judge, held that defendant's prior uncounseled tribal court domestic abuse convictions could not be used as predicate offenses.

Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort v. National Labor Relations Board
2015 WL 3981378
Briefs and other Materials from Turtle Talk
Nos. 14–2405, 14–2558
United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
Decided and Filed: July 1, 2015.
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis: Casino operated by Indian tribe on reservation land petitioned for review of National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) order, 2014 WL 5426873, finding that casino's no-solicitation policy was unfair labor practice and ordering casino to cease and desist from maintaining no-solicitation rule and to reinstate employee discharged for violating that rule through union solicitation to her former position with back pay and benefits. NLRB cross-applied for enforcement of its order.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Kathleen M. O'Malley, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) neither 1855 and 1864 treaties nor federal Indian law and policies prevented application of the NLRA to tribal-owned casino operated on trust land within a reservation, and
(2) casino fell within scope of the NLRA, and NLRB had jurisdiction to regulate casino's employment practices.

June

Pistor v. Garcia
2015 WL 3953448
No. 12–17095
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Filed June 30, 2015.

*Synopsis: "Advantage gamblers" brought 1983 action against tribal police chief, tribal gaming office inspector, and general manager of casino, which was owned and operated by tribe on tribal land, for detaining gamblers and seizing their property in violation of gamblers' Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The United States District Court for the District of Arizona, Frederick J. Martone, Senior District Judge, 2012 WL 3848453, denied defendants' motion to dismiss. Gamblers appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Berzon, Circuit Judge, held that tribal police chief, tribal gaming office inspector, and general manager of casino were not entitled to invoke the tribe's sovereign immunity from liability in their individual capacities.

Pueblo of Jemez v. United States
790 F3d. 1143
Briefs and other Materials from Turtle Talk
No. 13–2181
United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
June 26, 2015.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought action against the United States, seeking to quiet its allegedly unextinguished and continuing aboriginal title to lands under the federal common law and the Quiet Title Act (QTA). The United States District Court for the District of New Mexico, Robert C. Brack, J., dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Indian tribe appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Seymour, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1)United States' grant of land to private landowners did not extinguish a tribe's aboriginal right of occupancy;
(2) there was no evidence that private landowners' use of the land was inconsistent with tribe's occupancy of the land;
(3) tribe sufficiently put the United States on notice of its claim to aboriginal title; and
(4) the Preservation Act did not extinguish the tribe's aboriginal title.

Related News Stories: Appeals court revives Jemez Pueblo's claim to Valles Caldera (Albuquerque Journal) 6/26/15

Robinson v. Jewell
2015 WL 3824658
Briefs and other Materials from Turtle Talk
No. 12–17151
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Filed June 22, 2015.

*Synopsis: Non-federally recognized Native American tribe and its elected chairperson sued Secretary of Department of Interior (DOI), county, and ranch owners asserting title to ranch. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, Barbara McAuliffe, United States Magistrate Judge, 885 F.Supp.2d 1002, dismissed complaint, and plaintiffs appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Thomas, Chief Judge, held that:
(1) tribe's failure to present claim pursuant to California Land Claims Act of 1851 extinguished its title to property;
(2) Congress's ratification of 1849 Treaty with Utah did not give tribe any enforceable rights to property;
(3) treaty that was never ratified by Senate carried no legal effect;
(4) reservation for tribe was not created pursuant to Act of Congress of 1853; and
(5) any rights to property that tribe possessed as result of Acts of 1853 and 1855 were extinguished by Act of 1864.

Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation v. Utah
2015 WL 3705904
Briefs and other Materials from Turtle Talk
Nos. 14–4028, 14–4031, 14–4034
United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
June 16, 2015.
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought action alleging that state and local governments were unlawfully trying to displace tribal authority on tribal lands. State and counties filed counterclaims alleging that tribe infringed their sovereignty. The United States District Court for the District of Utah denied tribe's motion for preliminary injunction to halt tribal member's prosecution for alleged traffic offenses on tribal land, tribe's claim of immunity from counterclaims, and county's claim of immunity from tribe's suit.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Gorsuch, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) county's prosecution of tribal member constituted irreparable injury to tribal sovereignty;
(2) Anti-Injunction Act did not bar federal court from issuing preliminary injunction;
(3)Younger abstention was not warranted;
(4) mutual assistance agreement between state and tribe did not waive tribe's sovereign immunity from suit in state court;
(5) doctrine of equitable recoupment did not apply to permit state and county to assert counterclaims; and
(6) county attorneys were not entitled to sovereign immunity.

Two Shields v. Wilkinson
2015 WL 3634541
No. 13–3773
United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
Filed: June 12, 2015.

*Synopsis: Native Americans, which were allotted interests in land by United States under Dawes Act that United States held in trust, filed putative class action against companies and affiliated individuals which leased oil and gas mining rights on their allotments, alleging companies aided, abetted and induced United States to breach its fiduciary duty by approving leases. The United States District Court for the District of North Dakota, Daniel L. Hovland, J., dismissed action on basis that United States was required party which could not be joined, but without which action could not proceed. Native Americans appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Murphy, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) United States was required party which should be joined if feasible, and
(2) District Court did not abuse its discretion by dismissing action, on basis that United States was required party that could not be joined due to lack of waiver of sovereign immunity.

National Labor Relations Board v. Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Tribal Government
2015 WL 3556005
Briefs and other Materials from Turtle Talk
No. 14–2239
United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
Filed: June 9, 2015.
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis: The National Labor Relations Board, 361 NLRB No. 45, 200 L.R.R.M. 2005, 2014 WL 4626007, filed application for enforcement of order for Indian tribe to cease and desist from enforcing provisions of ordinance regulating employment and labor-organizing activities of its employees that conflicted with National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Julia Smith Gibbons, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) Board's determination that NLRA's definition of "employers" extended to Indian tribes was not entitled to Chevron deference, and
(2) NLRA applied to tribe's operation of casino.
Application granted. Briefs and other Materials from Turtle Talk

Sixth Circuit Denies En Banc Petition (Turtle Talk) 9/21/15

Big Lagoon Rancheria v. State of California
2015 WL 4100062
Briefs from Turtle Talk blog
Nos. 10–17803
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Filed: June 4, 2015.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought action alleging that state violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) by failing to negotiate in good faith for a casino on tribal trust land. The United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Claudia Wilken, P.J., granted summary judgment for tribe, 759 F.Supp.2d 1149, but, subsequently, granted state's motion for stay pending appeal, 2012 WL 298464. Both parties appealed. The Court of Appeals, Block, District Judge, sitting by designation, 741 F.3d 1032, reversed and remanded. On remand, the District Court, Wilken, Chief Judge, denied state's motion for continuance to conduct additional discovery. Parties cross-appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, O'Scannlain, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) state's claim that tribe lacked standing to bring the action was a prohibited collateral attack on administrative proceedings;
(2) any claim under Administrative Procedure Act (APA) challenging administrative decision was governed by six-year statute of limitations;
(3) District Court was within its discretion in denying state's motion for continuance to conduct additional discovery; and
(4) tribe's cross-appeal was moot.
Affirmed.

Related News Stories: Northern California tribe wins right to develop casino (LA Times) 6/10/2015. En Banc Ninth Circuit rejects untimely, collateral challenge to legal status of tribe's trust lands and federal recognition (Lexology) 6/5/2015

United States v. Billie
2015 WL 3450537
No. 14–13843
D.C. Docket No. 1:14–mc–20938–CMA
United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
June 1, 2015.

*Synopsis: Government filed petition to enforce Internal Revenue Service (IRS) administrative summons against the chairman of the general council of a Native American tribe. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Cecilia M. Altonaga, J., 2014 WL 4370329, entered enforcement order. Chairman appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals held that summons was enforceable.

May

Luckerman v. Narragansett Indian Tribe
2015 WL 3440320
No. 14-1106
United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit
May 29, 2015.

*Synopsis: Attorney filed state court action alleging that Indian tribe failed to fully compensate him for his services. After removal, the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island, William E. Smith, J., 965 F.Supp.2d 224, denied tribe's motion to dismiss and attorney's motion to remand, and later denied tribe's motion for reconsideration. Tribe appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Kayatta, Circuit Judge, held that denial of tribe's motion for reconsideration was not immediately appealable collateral order.

Sorace v. United States
2015 WL 3396641
Nos. 14–2683
United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
Filed: May 27, 2015.

*Synopsis: Administratrix of estates of two individuals killed in drunk-driving accident on Indian reservation brought action against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), alleging that tribe's police department was negligent in failing to arrest drunk driver prior to the accident. The United States District Court for the District of South Dakota, Roberto A. Lange, J., 2014 WL 2033149, granted United States' motion to dismiss. Administratrix appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, White, J., held that:
(1) allegation that tribe's police department was negligent for failing to stop drunk driver's vehicle was insufficient to state a negligence claim;
(2) third party's alleged contact with police department was insufficient to show reasonable reliance, as required to establish that police department owed a special duty to individuals;
(3) federal and tribal regulations, handbooks, and laws were not relevant in determining whether police department owed a special duty;
(4) South Dakota's nuisance and driving under the influence laws did not impose a special duty; and
(5) administratrix failed to allege that individuals were in a worse position than before drunk driver's erratic driving was reported to police department because of an official action, as required to establish a special duty.
Affirmed.

Longo v. Seminole Indian Casino-Immokalee
110 F.Supp.3d 1252
No. 2:14-cv-01939-TLN-CKD
United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
Filed May 21, 2015

*Synopsis: Former employee of tribe-owned casino brought action against casino, alleging claims under Title VII and Florida Civil Rights Act. Casino moved to dismiss.

*Holdings: The District Court, Sheri Polster Chappell, J., held that Indian tribe was immune from claims alleged by former employee of tribe-owned casino.

Motion granted.

Related News Stories: Federal list is final word on Indian tribe's immunity from suit - 11th Circuit (Reuters) 2/25/16

La Cuna de Aztlan Sacred Sites Protection Circle Advisory Committee v. U.S. DOI
603 Fed.Appx. 651
Briefs and other Materials from Turtle Talk
Nos. 13–56799
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Filed: May 19, 2015.
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

Legal Topic: Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Fort Yates Public School District #4 v. Murphy
2015 WL 2330317
Briefs and other Materials from Turtle Talk
Nos. 14–1549, 14–1702
United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
Filed: May 15, 2015.

*Synopsis: After parent of student who was a tribe member filed tribal-court complaint alleging tort claims against nonmember public school district, school district filed federal-court complaint seeking declaration that tribal court lacked jurisdiction. The United States District Court for the District of North Dakota, Ralph R. Erickson, Chief Judge, 997 F.Supp.2d 1009, granted parent's motion to dismiss. School district appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Smith, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) agreement between tribe and school district was not a consensual relationship that conferred jurisdiction on tribal court over parent's suit;
(2) parent's suit did not involve conduct that threatened or had some direct effect on political integrity, economic security, or health or welfare of the tribe, as would have given tribal court jurisdiction;
(3) sovereign immunity barred school district's suit against tribal court; and
(4) school district was not required to exhaust its tribal remedies before commencing suit.
Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded

Belcourt Public School District v. Davis
2015 WL 2330293
Briefs and other Materials from Turtle Talk
Nos. 14–1541, 14–1542, 14–1543, 14–1545, 14–1548
United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
Filed: May 15, 2015.

*Synopsis: School district and its employees brought action seeking a declaration that Indian tribal court lacked jurisdiction over tribe members' claims against district and employees for defamation, excessive use of force, and various employment related-claims. District moved for default judgment against one tribe member. The United States District Court for the District of North Dakota, Ralph R. Erickson, Chief Judge, 997 F.Supp.2d 1017, denied motion and held that tribal court had jurisdiction. District and employees appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Smith, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) even if district could agree to expand tribal court jurisdiction under North Dakota law, agreement between district and tribe was not a "consensual relationship" within meaning of exception to general rule that a tribe may not regulate activities of nonmembers, and thus tribal court lacked jurisdiction over tribe members' action;
(2) tribe members' claims did not involve conduct that threatened or directly effected the political integrity, economic safety, or health or welfare of the tribe, and thus tribal court lacked jurisdiction over claims; and
(3) district court did not abuse its discretion in denying school district's motion for default judgment.

Colbert v. United States
2015 WL 2119080
Briefs and other Materials from Turtle Talk
No. 14–12007
United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
May 7, 2015.

*Synopsis: The estate of an occupant of a car killed in an accident and an occupant injured in the accident brought a wrongful death and negligence claims against an attorney for the Navajo Nation Department of Justice (NNDOJ) and the United States, after the attorney drove the wrong way down a one-way road, causing the accident. After finding that the attorney was a federal employee acting in the scope of his employee, pursuant to a self-determination contract with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the District Court dismissed the attorney and substituted the United States as the party defendant under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). Following a bench trial, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Harvey E. Schlesinger, J., found the United States 80% at fault for the accident. The government appealed.

*Holdings: In a matter of first impression, the Court of Appeals, Voorhees, District Judge, sitting by designation, held that the attorney was covered as an employee of the BIA under the FTCA.

Yurok Tribe v. Department of the Interior
785 F.3d 1405
Briefs and other Materials from Turtle Talk
No. 2014–1529
United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit
May 8, 2015.

*Synopsis: Civilian Board of Contract Appeals, 2014 WL 718420, dismissed claim by Indian tribe that it had justice services contract with Bureau of Indian Affairs of Department of Interior and that it was entitled to payment under it, and denied reconsideration, 2014 WL 2457394. Tribe petitioned for judicial review.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Moore, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) letter from tribe triggered 90 day response deadline;
(2) self-determination contracts are not limited to funding for programs the government currently provides to the requesting tribe; and
(3) claim by tribe presented pre-award dispute that Civilian Board of Contract Appeals could not review.

City of Duluth v. Fond Du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
2015 WL 2151774
Briefs and other Materials from Turtle Talk
No. 13–3408.
United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
Filed: May 8, 2015.

*Synopsis: City sued band of Native American tribe, alleging breach of contractual obligations created when city and band agreed to establish casino in city's downtown, and also seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. After it was compelled to arbitrate amount of withheld taxes owed to city, tribe moved for relief from final order. The United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, Susan Richard Nelson, J., entered summary judgment barring tribe from challenging agreement's validity, 708 F.Supp.2d 890, entered order compelling tribe to arbitrate amount of rent to be paid to city for extension term, 2011 WL 1832786, and granted in part and denied in part tribe's motion for relief, 830 F.Supp.2d 712. Tribe appealed. The Court of Appeals, 702 F.3d 1147, affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. On remand, tribe moved for relief from judgment. The District Court, 977 F.Supp.2d 944, denied motion. Tribe appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Murphy, Circuit Judge, held that district court was required to consider intent of Congress in Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) to ensure that primary beneficiaries of Indian gaming operations were to be tribes.

April

Wisconsin v. Ho-Chunk Nation
2015 WL 1918506
Briefs and other Materials from Turtle Talk
No. 14–2529
United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.
Decided April 29, 2015.
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis: Wisconsin brought action against Indian tribe to stop the tribe from offering electronic poker at its gaming facility. Parties cross-moved for summary judgment. The United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, Barbara B. Crabb, J., granted state's motion. Tribe appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Wood, Chief Judge, held that Wisconsin could not interfere with tribe's decision to conduct nonbanked poker on tribal lands.

Schlemm v. Wall
784 F.3d 362
No. 14–2604
United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.
Decided April 21, 2015.

*Synopsis: Prisoner, a Navajo Tribe member, brought action under Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) against Wisconsin Department of Corrections, seeking an order requiring the state prison system to accommodate some of his religious practices. The United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, William M. Conley, Chief Judge, 2014 WL 2591879, granted prison's summary judgment motion. Prisoner appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Easterbrook, Circuit Judge, held that:
1) genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether prisoner's inability to eat game meat for a religious feast substantially burdened his religious exercise, precluding summary judgment on prisoner's RLUIPA claim, and
2) genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether prisoner's inability to wear a multicolored headband while praying in his cell and during group religious ceremonies substantially burdened his religious exercise, precluding summary judgment on prisoner's RLUIPA claim.
Affirmed in part and reversed in part.

Tulalip Tribes of Washington v. Washington
2015 WL 1740895
No. 13–35464
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Filed April 17, 2015.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought action against the State of Washington, seeking a declaration that the State had breached the "most-favored tribe" clause of a Tribal-State Indian gaming compact. The United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, Richard A. Jones, J., 2013 WL 2253668, granted summary judgment to the State. The Indian Tribe appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, McKeown, Circuit Judge, held that the State was not required to amend its Tribal-State Indian gaming compact to provide an alternative mechanism for a Tribe to obtain additional video player terminals.

Tremblay v. Mohegan Sun Casino
599 Fed.Appx. 25
No. 14–2031–CV
United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
April 7, 2015.

Legal Topics: Age Discrimination; Casinos

Shinnecock Indian Nation v. The United States
2015 WL 1529231
No. 2014–5015
United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit
April 7, 2015.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought action against federal government, alleging that government, acting through federal court system, denied any and all judicial means of effective redress for unlawful taking of lands currently comprising New York town from tribe and its members. Government moved to dismiss tribe's claims as unripe and outside court's jurisdiction. The United States Court of Federal Claims, Emily C. Hewitt, Chief Judge, 112 Fed.Cl. 369, granted motion. Tribe appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Mayer, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) tribe's breach of trust claims against United States were not ripe for adjudication, and
(2) Court of Federal Claims lacked jurisdiction over tribe's judicial takings claim.

The Hopi Tribe v. The United States
2015 WL 1474727
No. 2014–5018
United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit.
April 2, 2015.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought action against federal government, alleging that Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) failed to ensure that water supply on tribe's reservation contained safe levels of arsenic, and seeking to recover damages for breach of trust. The United States Court of Federal Claims, Lawrence J. Block, J., 113 Fed.Cl. 43, dismissed the action. Tribe appealed.

*Holdings:The Court of Appeals, Hughes, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) neither Executive Order of 1882 nor Act of 1958 established any enforceable substantive right;
(2) by holding reserved water rights in trust under Act of 1958, fiduciary duty could not be inferred under Winters doctrine that Congress intended United States to be responsible for providing water infrastructure and treatment needed to eliminate naturally occurring contaminants such as arsenic on Indian reservation; and
(3) Congress did not expressly accept common-law fiduciary duty to manage water resources of Indian reservation through statutes that only required United States to assist in provision of safe drinking water, but did not restrict tribe from managing resource itself.

Quechan Tribe of Fort Yuma Indian Reservation v. United States
599 Fed.Appx. 698 (Mem)
No. 11–16334
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Filed April 1, 2015.

Legal Topics: Fiduciary Duty - Health Care

March

Crow Tribal Housing Authority v. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
2015 WL 1344760
Briefs and other Materials from Turtle Talk
No. 13-35284.
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Argued and Submitted October 9, 2015.
Filed March 26, 2015.

*Synopsis: Tribal housing authority brought action to challenge action by Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to recoup alleged overpayments of grant funds to housing authority under Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA). The United States District Court for the District of Montana, Richard F. Cebull, Senior District Judge, 924 F.Supp.2d 1217, ruled that HUD violated Tribe's right to NAHASDA's notice and hearing and remanded case to HUD for hearing. HUD appealed.

*Holdings:The Court of Appeals, Christen, Circuit Judge, held that: (1) on-site review triggered opportunity for hearing, and (2) HUD was not required to hold hearing.

In re Torres
599 Fed.Appx. 650
No. 13–56066
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Filed March 24, 2015.
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis: Following disallowance of Indian tribe's proof of claim, Chapter 11 debtor, a licensed contractor who had been hired to make certain infrastructure improvements on tribal lands, filed motion for sanctions, arguing that tribe had filed and pursued an allegedly fraudulent and false claim. The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California, Robin Riblet, J., denied the motion, and debtor appealed. The District Court, Michael W. Fitzgerald, J., 2013 WL 1248640, affirmed. Debtor appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals held that the bankruptcy court did not abuse its discretion in denying debtor's motion for sanctions.

Rojas v. Heimgartner
604 Fed.Appx. 692
No. 14–3178
United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
March 20, 2015.

*Synopsis: Kansas state prisoner brought § 1983 action against prison warden, alleging violations of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The United States District Court for the District of Kansas, J. Thomas Marten, Chief Judge, 2014 WL 3880999, dismissed action. Prisoner appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Carlos F. Lucero, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) prison regulations, prohibiting prisoners from wearing colored bandanas and white bandanas outside of group worship services, did not violate prisoner's First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion, and
(2) regulations did not violate equal protection even though they allowed Muslim and Rastafarian prisoners to wear close-fitting hemispheric black caps.

Allen v. Smith
2015 WL 1138391
No. 13-55552.
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Submitted March 6, 2015.
Filed March 16, 2015.

Legal Topics: Disenrollment

February

U.S. v. Brown
2015 WL 528207
Briefs from Turtle Talk
Nos. 13-3800, 13-3801, 13-3802, 13-3803.
United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
Submitted: October 9, 2014. Filed: February 10, 2015.

*Synopsis: Members of Chippewa Indian tribe were indicted under the Lacey Act, which makes it unlawful to sell any fish taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any Indian tribal law. Tribal members moved to dismiss indictments on the ground that their prosecution violated fishing rights reserved under the 1837 Treaty between the United States and the Chippewa. The United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, John R. Tunheim, J., 2013 WL 6175202, granted motion. United States appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Murphy, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) tribal members had usufructuary rights protecting their right to fish and sell fish, and
(2) Lacey Act did not abrogate tribal members' usufructuary rights to sell fish caught on Indian reservation.
Affirmed.

U.S. v. Martin
2015 WL 451118
Nos. 13-2410, 13-3221, 14-1039.
United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
Submitted: Nov. 13, 2014. Filed: Feb. 4, 2015.

*Synopsis: Defendants were jointly tried in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. Two defendants were convicted of murder and robbery in Indian country, and a third was convicted only of robbery in Indian country.
Defendants appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Murphy, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) any error in district court's ex parte communication with jury venire was harmless;
(2) defendant's stipulation established that he was an Indian under statute governing crimes committed in Indian country;
(3) defendant's stipulation was voluntary and knowing;
(4) district court properly denied defendant's motion to sever trial;
(5) prosecutor did not impermissibly comment on defendant's failure to testify;
(6) refusal to give defendant's proposed instruction for lesser-included-offense of theft was not abuse of discretion; and
(7) district court properly imposed 6-level enhancement because defendant should have foreseen that robbery would result in permanent or life threatening bodily injury.
Affirmed.

January

Brooks v. Roy
2015 WL 327713
No. 14-1301.
United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
Jan. 27, 2015.

*Synopsis: Native American inmate brought action against state prison official under s1983, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA), and he Minnesota Constitution, alleging that his required chemical-dependency program conflicted with his religious beliefs. The United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, Susan Richard Nelson, J., 2014 WL 127024, adopted the opinion of Janie S. Mayeron, United States Magistrate Judge, and dismissed some claims and granted summary judgment to the officials on remaining claims. Inmate appealed.

* Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Kelly, Circuit Judge, held that inmate's complaint did not sufficiently put the officials on notice of the basis for his free exercise claims.
Affirmed.

Rancheria v. Jewell
776 F.3d 706
No. 12-15817.
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Argued and Submitted April 8, 2014. Filed Jan. 20, 2015.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe sued Department of Interior (DOI), challenging decision that, pursuant to DOI's regulations, tribe's parcels of undeveloped riverfront lands, located several miles outside tribe's reservation, were ineligible for gaming if DOI took parcels into trust by which parcels would become Indian lands under restored lands exception to general prohibition in Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) against gaming on Indian lands taken into trust after date of IGRA's passage. The United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Samuel Conti, Senior District Judge, granted summary judgment for DOI. Tribe appealed.

* Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Schroeder, Senior Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) Secretary reasonably implemented restored lands exception;
(2) canon did not apply that statute had to be interpreted liberally in favor of Indians to extent that it was not clear;
(3) Secretary provided sufficient explanation for its alleged change of policy; and
(4) remand was warranted.
Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

 

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