2016 Tribal Courts Cases

December

Carter v. Creek Casino Montgomery
Case No. SC-16-01 OB
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians Tribal Supreme Court

Legal Topics: Civil Procedure

Becenti-Aguilar v. Begay
13 Am. Tribal Law 486
No. SC–CV–51–16.
Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation.
Dec. 16, 2016.

*Synopsis: Following an election for vacant position of delegate to Navajo Nation Council, one losing candidate filed grievance alleging that winning candidate was not eligible for the vacant position at time he filed to run for the office. The Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA), Richie Nez, Chief Hearing Officer, dismissed, and appeal was taken. The Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation reversed, ordering OHA to hold a hearing. On remand, OHA determined that winning candidate was eligible to run. Losing candidate appealed.

*Holdings: The Supreme Court held that winning candidate's election was void.
Reversed and remanded.

Guertin v. Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation
2016 WL 7508161
MPTC–CV–AA–2016–126.
Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court.
Dec. 15, 2016.

*Synopsis: Tribal employee brought action, under the Mashantucket Administrative Procedure Act (MAPA), for review of disciplinary action taken against him by tribal Fire Department. Tribe moved to dismiss.

*Holdings: The Tribal Court, Edward B. O'Connell, Chief Judge, held that Tribal Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over petition.
Motion granted.

Deserly v. Fort Peck Tribes
13 Am. Tribal Law 459
No. AP # 735.
Fort Peck Court of Appeals
Dec. 13, 2016.

*Synopsis: Defendant, charged with, inter alia, felony unlawful possession of dangerous drugs with enhancements, unlawful possession of dangerous drugs with intent to sell, and endangering the welfare of children, entered into a Fort Peck Healing to Wellness Court Participation Agreement. When the prosecutor filed a motion to continue trial, defense counsel filed petition for writ of habeas corpus.

*Holdings: The Fort Peck Court of Appeals held that Court of Appeals lacked jurisdiction to review petition.
Remanded with instructions.

Smith v. Smith
13 Am. Tribal Law 456
No. AP 725.
Fort Peck Court of Appeals.
Dec. 12, 2016.

*Synopsis: Former husband appealed decision of the Fort Peck Tribal Court, Marvin Youpee, J., which ordered execution of judgment as to alimony ordered in divorce decree.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals held that:
1) substantial evidence did not support Tribal Court's calculation as to amount of alimony payments that former husband was required to make, and
2) Tribal Court abused its discretion by ordering former husband to pay alimony that had not yet come due.
Remanded with directions.

In re S.B.H.
13 Am. Tribal Law 450
No. AP 701.
Fort Peck Court of Appeals
Dec. 07, 2016.

*Synopsis: On petition to modify custody, the Fort Peck Tribal Court, Marvin Youpee, J., calculated child support, established a schedule for parenting time, and allowed father to claim children for income tax purposes. Mother appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals held that:
1) mother's due process rights were not violated by manner in which trial court conducted hearing on motion to modify custody;
2) mother's request that father be restricted from seeking child support until mother had been employed for one year automatically triggered a need for trial court to address child support;
3) it was within trial court's discretion on mother's motion to modify custody to impute income to mother; and
4) remand was warranted for trial court to articulate precisely how it determined amount of monthly child support owed by mother as non-custodial parent.
Remanded in part.

November

Crofford v. Baker
13 Am. Tribal Law 383
SC–15–08.
Cherokee Nation Supreme Court.
Nov. 22, 2016.

*Synopsis: Plaintiffs, former Cherokee Nation employees, brought action against the Nation and officials, bringing claims for violations of Due Process, breach of contract, breach of a covenant of good faith dealing, fraud, and officious intermeddling. The District Court granted Nation's motion for summary judgment, and plaintiffs appealed.

*Holdings: The Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation held that no contested issues of material fact existed.
Affirmed.

In re T. J. M.
13 Am. Tribal Law 445
No. AP 698.
Fort Peck Court of Appeals.
Nov. 21, 2016.

*Synopsis: Mother filed appeal of child support order issued in the Fort Peck Tribal Court, Marvin Youpee Jr., J., ordering mother to pay $1,150 per month in child support.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals held that:
1) child support order could take into account revenues mother derived from trust property, and
2) requirement that mother pay $1,150 per month in child support was not excessive.
Affirmed; Remanded.

Venter v. Fort Peck Tribes
13 Am. Tribal Law 419 (Mem)
No. AP 727.
Fort Peck Court of Appeals.
Nov. 14, 2016.

Legal Topic: Criminal Law - Evidence

Luond v. Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise
2016 WL 6946909
CV–AA–2012–168.
Mashantucket Pequot Court of Appeals.
Nov. 07, 2016.

*Synopsis: Casino bartender initiated challenge of decision of the Board of Review to uphold his termination for violating Gaming Enterprise's standards of conduct, including theft and misappropriation of property and violating the lost and abandoned property policy. The Tribal Court, Edward B. O'Connell, C.J., 6 Mash.Rep. 116, reversed decision of Board of Review. Gaming Enterprise appealed.

*Holdings: The Mashantucket Pequot Court of Appeals, Gregory Bigler, J., held that:
1) there was substantial evidence to support finding that slot redemption ticket was not intended by patron to be a tip or a gift for bartender;
2) there was substantial evidence to support finding that bartender knew that slot redemption ticket was lost or stolen; and
3) inclusion of bartender's prior discipline in record was harmless error.
Reversed.

Martine-Alonzo v. Jose
13 Am. Tribal Law 481
No. SC–CV–37–16.
Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation.
Nov. 3, 2016.

*Synopsis: Challengers to school board candidate appealed decision of the Office of Hearings and Appeals, Richie Nez, Chief Hearing Officer, dismissing complaint seeking to disqualify candidate on grounds that New Mexico criminal charge had been dismissed upon candidate's successful completion of a deferred sentencing program.

*Holdings: The Supreme Court held that candidate's dismissed criminal charge was not "conviction" for purposes of candidate qualifications under Navajo Election Code.
Affirmed.

October

Navajo Nation v. Tso
13 Am. Tribal Law 466
No. SC–CR–03–16.
Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation.
Oct. 25, 2016.

*Synopsis: Defendant, a judge, was convicted, in a bench trial in the Shiprock District Court, Genevieve Woody, J., of abuse of office, and sentenced to forfeiture of his office. He appealed.

*Holdings: The Supreme Court held that:
1) defendant was not deprived of due process by the Nation's disclosure of evidence under the "open file" rule;
2) testimony regarding a monetary offer for dismissal of the charges against defendant's relatives was properly admitted;
3) evidence was sufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt element that defendant acted or purported to act in an official capacity; and
4) conviction automatically required permanent forfeiture of office.
Affirmed.

September

McLean-McNabb v. Peltier
13 Am. Tribal Law 377
No. TUL–CV–AP–2016–0020.
Tulalip Tribal Court of Appeals.
Sept. 9, 2016.

*Synopsis: Father moved, in child custody case, to modify parenting plan and relocate child to Arizona. The Tribal Court denied motion, father appealed, and the Tribal Court of Appeals, 12 Am. Tribal Law 307, remanded with instructions. On remand the Tribal Court, after conducting evidentiary hearing, again denied father's motion. He appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Kilmer, J., held that substantial evidence supported determination that there was insufficient evidence to warrant change in primary residential parent and relocation of child, but sufficient evidence to warrant new parenting plan.
Affirmed, and remanded for further proceedings.

Martinez v. Colville Confederated Tribes
13 Am. Tribal Law 388
No. AP16–001.
Colville Tribal Court of Appeals.
Sept. 1, 2016.

*Synopsis: Defendant pleaded guilty, in the Tribal Court, to two counts of battery DV, and was sentenced to consecutive sentences totaling 720 days' incarceration with 360 days suspended. He appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Nelson, J., held that Trial Court erred in imposing, in a single criminal proceeding, consecutive sentences which exceeded one year.
Vacated and remanded for resentencing.

August

Crocker v. Tribal Council for Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Community of Oregon
13 Am. Tribal Law 369
No. A–15–001.
Tribal Court of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community.
Aug. 5, 2016.

*Synopsis: Tribe member appealed Tribal Council's decision to approve Enrollment Committee's recommendation to remove member from membership in tribe. The Trial Court of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community, David D. Shaw, J., 13 Am. Tribal Law 58, denied the appeal, and member appealed.

*Holdings: The Tribal Court of Appeals, Paul, J., held that member was not entitled to equitable relief.
Affirmed.

Stoplman, et al. v. St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin Tribal Council
Case Nos. 16-CV-500, 501, 502, 503 and 504
St.Croix Tribal Court
August 11, 2016

Legal Topics: Enrollment

Alexander v. Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde
13 Am. Tribal Law 353
No. A–15–008.
Court of Appeals of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community.
Aug. 5, 2016.

*Synopsis: Tribe members brought action appealing decision to remove them from tribal membership. The Trial Court of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community, David D. Shaw, J., 13 Am. Tribal Law 91, affirmed decision to disenroll members. Tribe members appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community, Miller, J., held as an issue of first impression that:
1) Tribe, Enrollment Committee, and staff were prevented from proceeding with disenrollment action under doctrine of laches, and
2) Tribe, Enrollment Committee, and staff were equitably estopped from proceeding with disenrollment action.
Reversed.

July

Calflooking v. Tulalip Tribes
13 Am. Tribal Law 491
No. TUL–CV–AP–2015–0406.
Tulalip Tribal Court of Appeals.
July 26, 2016.

*Synopsis: Defendant was convicted, in the Tribal Court, of violating an order of exclusion. He appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Daniel A. Raas, C.J., held that defendant could not be convicted of knowingly or purposefully entering onto reservation in violation of Exclusion Order.
Reversed.

General Council Agency v. Ho-Chunk Nation Ethics Review Bd.
13 Am. Tribal Law 247
No. SU 16–01.
Ho–Chunk Nation Supreme Court.
July 13, 2016.

*Synopsis: Ethics Review Board instituted administrative proceeding upon receipt of ethics complaint. General Council Agency filed action in the Trial Court to enjoin investigation against it, and Board filed motion to dismiss. The Trial Court dismissed the action, and Agency appealed.

*Holdings: The Supreme Court held that as a matter of first impression in the Ho–Chunk Nation Courts, the public interest required vacation of Trial Court's substantive ruling issued after Board's dismissal of underlying complaint.
Reversed and remanded with instructions.

June

Daddis v. Navajo Arts and Crafts Enterprise
13 Am. Tribal Law 372
No. SC–CV–22–12.
Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation.
June 2, 2016.

*Synopsis: Former employee brought action against a Navajo Nation Enterprise, alleging that her termination violated the Navajo Preference in Employment Act (NPEA). The Navajo Nation Labor Commission, Chairperson Richie Nez, presiding, dismissed, and appeal was taken.

*Holdings: The Supreme Court, Sloan, C.J., and Shirley, J., held that Navajo Nation Labor Commission erred by dismissing complaint as untimely without holding an evidentiary hearing.
Reversed and remanded with instructions.

May

Melchert v. Oneida Tribe of Indians Wis. Div. of Land Mgmt
2016 Oneida Trial LEXIS 1
Case No: 16-TC-029
Oneida Judiciary, Trial Court.
May 12, 2016.

Legal Topics: Jurisdiction

April

Palmer v. Hrd-Benefits
2016 Oneida Trial LEXIS 2
Case No: 16-TC-011
Oneida Judiciary, Trial Court.
April 14, 2016.

Legal Topics: Worker's Compensation

 

March

Barton v. Lee
13 Am. Tribal Law 336
No. SC–CV–68–15.
Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation.
March 31, 2016.

*Synopsis: Domestic abuse protection order was issued in the Shiprock Family Court, Genevieve Woody, J., and appeal was taken.

*Holdings: The Supreme Court held that as a matter of first impression, an uncertified transcript could not be included as part of the official record on appeal.
Ordered accordingly.

Rogers v. Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise
2016 WL 1224224
CV–PI–2014–157.
Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court.
March 17, 2016.

*Synopsis: After he allegedly fell in bathroom of his hotel room, hotel guest brought negligence action against Gaming Enterprise. Gaming Enterprise's summary judgment motion was denied, 6 Mash.Rep. 259.

*Holdings: Thereafter the Tribal Court, Edward B. O'Connell, J., held that:
1) guest's wife had apparent authority to bind guest to terms of release agreement, and
2) wife's signature on release agreement precluded recovery.
Judgment for Gaming Enterprise.

Ruffo v. Craft Worldwide Holdings, LLC
2016 WL 1132744
MPTC–CV–PI–2013–107.
Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court.
March 10, 2016.

*Synopsis: Following entry of judgment, 2015 WL 9673844, in favor of casino patron in negligence action brought after she was injured when she tripped over one of a series of raised light fixtures in floor of a passageway leading out of casino restaurant, Gaming Enterprises moved to alter or amend judgment or for reconsideration.

*Holdings:The Tribal Court, Edward B. O'Connell, J., held that amount of judgment could not be altered or amended so as to reflect a collateral source/equitable setoff.
Motion denied.

 

February

Hadley v. Navajo Nation Dept. of Public Safety, Chinle Police Department
13 Am. Tribal Law 330
No. SC–CV–20–15.
Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation.
Feb. 10, 2016.

*Synopsis: Police officer brought harassment complaint against police department, alleging that police department failed to comply with Navajo Preference in Employment Act (NPEA). The Navajo Nation Labor Commission dismissed complaint, and officer appealed.

*Holdings: The Supreme Court held that burden of proof was on police department in Navajo Nation Labor Commission to show compliance with provisions of NPEA.
Reversed and remanded.

Hazard v. Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation
2016 WL 589519
MPTC–CV–PI–2009–210.
Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court.
Feb. 3, 2016.

*Synopsis: Food vendor and his wife and children brought negligence action against tribe, seeking damages for injuries vendor sustained in propane explosion at festival.

*Holdings: Following bench trial, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court, Thomas J. Londregan, J., held that tribe's conduct in ordering food vendor to reposition propane tank to back of vendor's truck did not proximately cause vendor's injuries in propane explosion.
Judgment for Tribe.

 

January

 

 

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