Indian Law Bulletins  |  Federal Trial Courts  |  2014

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Text highlighted in blue are links to information available on the Internet free of charge. Text highlighted in green are links to information available on Westlaw, for the convenience of those who have a Westlaw account. Please contact the National Indian Law Library if you need help obtaining legal documents.

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Last updated: March 20, 2014

Next update should be ready by: April 3, 2014

Please alert us to any cases we may have missed from the U.S. Federal Trial Court

Newest Cases:

Skokomish Indian Tribe v. United States
2014 WL 982868
No. 11–658L.
United States Court of Federal Claims, March 11, 2014

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) " This is an action for damages brought by the Skokomish Indian Tribe (the Tribe), as well as the individual members of the Tribe, deriving from the construction and operation of the Cushman Hydroelectric Project, upstream from the Tribe's reservation. Plaintiffs allege that defendant failed to protect their interests with respect to the licensing and operation of the hydroelectric project, thereby violating its obligations arising under a treaty as well as various statutes. Plaintiffs further aver that defendant's actions effectuated a temporary takings under the Fifth Amendment. Defendant has moved to dismiss plaintiffs' claims, arguing, inter alia, that 28 U.S.C. § 1500 deprives this court of jurisdiction."

* Holding: (not yet available)

Older Cases:

See the 2013 bulletin for older cases.


Davis v. Pierce
2014 WL 798033
Civil Action No. 2:12–CV–166.
S.D. Texas, Corpus Christi Division, Feb. 27, 2014

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) " In this prisoner civil rights action, Plaintiffs Teddy Norris Davis and Robbie Dow Goodman allege that Defendants have violated, and continue to violate, their right to practice their Native American religion, in violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUPIA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc, and the First Amendment. Plaintiffs seek injunctive and declaratory relief from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Criminal Institutions Division (TDCJ–CID), by and through the TDCJ–CID Director William Stephens, sued in his official capacity only, to: (1) allow Plaintiffs to smoke a communal pipe and/or a personal pipe during Native American ceremonies; (2) provide a minimum of two pipe ceremonies per month and/or otherwise increase the number of Native American services at the McConnell Unit; (3) allow Plaintiffs to grow their hair and/or grow a kouplock; and (4) allow Plaintiffs to wear their medicine bags at all times. (D.E.1, 16, 88). Plaintiffs have also sued Clint Morris, the TDCJ Program Analyst for Designated Units, claiming that he personally violated their First Amendment free exercise rights because he failed to advocate for the rights of Native American prisoners, including Plaintiffs, and as such, is liable in his individual capacity for monetary damages. (See Case No. 2:12–cv–166, Minutes Entry for 02/22/13, and D.E. 143 at pp. 1–2, Plaintiffs' SJM response)."

* Holding: (not yet available)

Picayune Rancharia of the Chukchansi Indians v. Tan
2014 WL 763170
No. 1:14–cv–0220–AWI–SAB.
United States District Court, E.D. California, Feb. 24, 2014

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) "Plaintiffs purport to be acting on behalf of the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians, a federally recognized tribe, and the Chukchansi Economic Development Authority (“CEDA”), an entity owned by the Tribe. CEDA is owner of the Chukchansi Casino (“Casino”). Plaintiffs seek to enjoin the Managerial Staff of the Casino from making any disbursements of Casino revenue to any person or entity other than the Tribal Council recognized by the February 11, 2014, Decision by the Regional Director of the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs."

* Holding: (not yet available)

Smith v. Parker
Material from Turtle Talk
2014 WL 558965
No. 4:07CV3101.
United States District Court, D. Nebraska, Feb. 13, 2014

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) "The pivotal issue in this case is whether Congress intended to "diminish" the boundaries of the Omaha Indian Reservation in Nebraska when it enacted an 1882 Act that ratified an agreement for the sale of Omaha tribal lands to non-Indian settlers. If Congress intended to diminish the Omaha Reservation, the area involved would no longer constitute Indian country, and the Omaha Tribe could not regulate and tax alcohol sales in Pender, Nebraska. Atkinson Trading Co., Inc. v. Shirley, 532 U.S. 645, 653, 121 S.Ct. 1825, 149 L.Ed.2d 889 (2001) ("An Indian tribe's sovereign power to tax—whatever its derivation—reaches no further than tribal land.")."

* Holding: (not yet available)


Oglala Sioux Tribe v. Van Hunnik
Order Granting Class Certification, 2014 WL 317693
Orders and Briefs from Turtle Talk
2014 WL 317657
Civ. 13-5020-JV.
United States District Court, District of South Dakota, Western Division, Jan. 28, 2014

*Synopsis: Native American tribes and several tribe members brought § 1983 action against state officials, alleging policies, practices, and procedures relating to the removal of Native American children from their homes during 48–hour hearings violated the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause and the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Defendants moved to dismiss.

* Holding: The District Court, Jeffrey L. Viken, Chief Judge, held that:
(1)Younger abstention did not apply;
(2)Rooker-Feldman abstention doctrine did not deprive district court of subject matter jurisdiction;
(3) tribes had parens patriae standing;
(4) allegations were sufficient to plead judge and officials were policymakers;
(5) ICWA provision provided substantive rights;
(6) allegations were sufficient to state a claim for ICWA violations; and
(7) allegations were sufficient to plead denial of their Fourteenth Amendment due process rights.
Motions denied.>

Wilson v. Bull
2014 WL 183777
No. CIV. 12–5078–JLV.
United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Western Division, Jan. 16, 2013

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) "Plaintiff Diane M. Wilson, appearing pro se, filed an amended complaint alleging she was wrongfully terminated from her employment as a Teacher Assistant for the Wanblee Head Start program operated by the Oglala Lakota College ("OLC"). (Docket 6). Defendants Thomas Shortbull and Michelle Yankton filed a motion to dismiss the action for lack of jurisdiction. (Docket 12). The court referred defendants' motion to United States Magistrate Veronica L. Duffy for a report and recommendation. (Docket 17)."

* Holding: (not yet available)

Skokomish Indian Tribe v. Goldmark
2014 WL 119022
No. C13–5071JLR.
United States District Court, W.D. Washington, at Seattle, Jan. 13, 2013

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) "In this action, Skokomish Indian Tribe seeks "to protect the privilege of hunting and gathering roots and berries on open and unclaimed lands, guaranteed by Article 4 of the Treaty of Point No Point of January 26, 1855." (Am. Compl. ¶ 2 (citing 12 Stat. 933).) The Tribe's Amended Complaint, including 13 exhibits, is more than two hundred pages long. (See generally id.) The court, however, will endeavor to summarize the salient allegations and background that are pertinent to Defendants' motions."

* Holding: (not yet available)

KG Urban Enterprises, LLC v. Patrick
2014 WL 108307
Civil Action No. 11–12070–NMG.
United States District Court, D. Massachusetts, Jan. 9, 2014

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) "In November, 2011, casino developer KG Urban Enterprises, LLC ("KG Urban") brought suit against Governor Deval Patrick ("Governor Patrick") and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission ("the Commission"), challenging the Act Establishing Expanded Gaming in the Commonwealth ("the Gaming Act") as unconstitutional. After this Court denied plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction and dismissed the case, the First Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, directing this Court to provide defendants with a "limited grace period" for a federally recognized Indian tribe to meet the requirements of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act ("IGRA"). . . . With ancillary matters resolved and the case substantially narrowed to its core equal protection issue, now pending before the Court are cross-motions for summary judgment from both parties."

* Holding: (not yet available)

Related News Stories: New Bedford casino contender KG Urban looses lawsuit (Cape Cod Online) 1/10/14


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