Articles Posted in Native American Law

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Defendant Darren Rose, a member of the Alturas Indian Rancheria, ran two smoke shops located in Indian country but far from any lands governed by the Alturas Indian Rancheria. In those smoke shops, Rose sold illegal cigarettes and failed to collect state taxes. California brought an enforcement action to stop illegal sales and collect civil penalties. Rose appealed, arguing: (1) California and its courts did not have jurisdiction to enforce California’s civil/regulatory laws for his actions in Indian country; and (2) the amount of civil penalties imposed was inequitable and erroneous. The Court of Appeal concluded: (1) federal law and tribal sovereignty did not preempt California’s regulation and enforcement of its laws concerning sales of cigarettes; and (2) the superior court’s imposition of civil penalties was proper. View "California v. Rose" on Justia Law

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Defendant Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians (the Tribe) appealed a judgment after trial in favor of plaintiff Sharp Image Gaming, Inc. (Sharp Image), in plaintiff’s breach of contract action stemming from a deal to develop a casino on the Tribe’s land. On appeal, the Tribe argued: (1) the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because Sharp Image’s action in state court was preempted by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA); (2) the trial court erred in failing to defer to the National Indian Gaming Commission’s (NIGC) determination that the disputed Equipment Lease Agreement (ELA) and a promissory note (the Note) were management contracts requiring the NIGC’s approval; (3) Sharp Image’s claims were barred by the Tribe’s sovereign immunity; (4) the trial court erred in denying the Tribe’s motion for summary judgment; (5) the jury’s finding that the ELA was an enforceable contract was inconsistent with its finding that the ELA left essential terms for future determination; and (6) substantial evidence does not support the jury’s verdict on the Note. After the parties completed briefing in this case, the United States was granted permission to submit an amicus curiae brief in partial support of the Tribe on the questions of preemption and lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Court of Appeal concluded IGRA preempted state contract actions based on unapproved “management contracts” and “collateral agreements to management contracts” as such agreements are defined in the IGRA regulatory scheme. Thus, the trial court erred by failing to determine whether the ELA and the Note were agreements subject to IGRA regulation, a necessary determination related to the question of preemption and the court’s subject matter jurisdiction. Furthermore, the Court concluded the ELA was a management contract and the Note was a collateral agreement to a management contract subject to IGRA regulation. Because these agreements were never approved by the NIGC Chairman as required by the IGRA and were thus void, Sharp Image’s action was preempted by IGRA. Consequently, the trial court did not have subject matter jurisdiction. View "Sharp Image Gaming v. Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians" on Justia Law

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Officials of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (the Department) challenged the trial court's order granting a petition for writ of habeas corpus filed by Gregory Rhoades, a Native American prisoner incarcerated at Calipatria State Prison (Calipatria). In granting Rhoades's petition, the trial court concluded that the prohibition on the use of straight tobacco during prisoners' Native American religious ceremonies violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) and it ordered the California Department of Corrections to "formulate and implement policies permitting and reasonably regulating the possession and use of straight tobacco" during those ceremonies. The Court of Appeals concluded the trial court improperly granted relief in favor of Rhoades without holding an evidentiary hearing on disputed factual issues, and reversed and remanded matter with directions that the trial court hold an evidentiary hearing. View "In re Rhoades" on Justia Law

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K.B. appealed a judgment terminating her parental rights to her two children, Jc.L. and Ja.L. K.B. contended the juvenile court erred in terminating her parental rights because the court failed to comply with "the inquiry/notice requirements" of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). After review of the trial court record, the Court of appeals concluded the trial court properly determined that the Agency did not violate ICWA's inquiry and notice provisions. View "In re J.L." on Justia Law

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Petitioner County of Riverside (the County) challenged Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) findings that the application for adjudication of claim by respondent Peter Sylves was timely filed, and that Labor Code section 5500.5(a) did not bar liability on the County’s part. Sylves was employed by the County as a deputy sheriff. He took a service retirement and then worked for the Pauma Police Department on a reservation belonging to the Pauma Band of Luiseno Indians, a federally recognized tribe. Sylves’ employment with the Pauma Police Department lasted from 2010, through 2014. Sylves filed an application for adjudication of claim on July 16, 2014. He claimed a continuous trauma for “hypertension, GERDS [gastroesophageal reflux disease], left shoulder, low back and both knees.” In 2015, the WCJ found: “Pursuant to Labor Code section 5500.5, applicant’s continuous trauma is limited to the last year of injurious exposure, even if it is with the Pauma Tribal Police.” The WCJ found that Sylves’s knee and left shoulder injuries, his GERDS, and his sleep disorder were not compensable injuries arising in and out of employment. However, he also found that Sylves’ hypertension and back injury were compensable and arose from employment with the County. With respect to the statute of limitations, the WCAB explained that the time in which to file a claim did not begin to run until a doctor told him the symptoms for which he had been receiving treatment were industrially related; since medical confirmation did not occur until 2013, Sylves’ 2014 application was timely. The WCAB further found that section 5500.5 “is not a Statute of Limitations but provides for a supplemental proceeding in which multiple defendants have an opportunity to apportion liability.” Finally, it agreed with Sylves that section 5500.5 could not limit liability to the Pauma Police Department in this case because the WCAB lacked jurisdiction over the tribe. Essentially, the WCAB determined that the County “failed to meet its burden of proof on the Statute of Limitations defenses raised herein.” Finding no reversible error in the WCAB's decision, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "Co. of Riverside v. WCAB" on Justia Law

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The Mendocino County Department of Social Services filed a Welfare and Institutions Code section 3001 petition concerning three minors, alleging their mother was unable to care for them, and that Father’s whereabouts were unknown. Mother and Minors were enrolled members of the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians. The case was governed by the Indian Child Welfare Act (25 U.S.C. 1901). The Department located Father in a Florida jail. He requested services. Father was released and submitted evidence that, while incarcerated, Father had completed substance abuse classes and a dog training program. The court sustained an allegation that Father “has a pattern of criminal behaviors that includes a drug-related arrest and conviction in 2014 that severely impairs his ability to care for” his children. He had not seen Minors in more than five years nor spoken to them in two years. At a six-month hearing, Father argued reasonable services were not provided, citing a delay in creating Father’s case plan and failure to provide drug testing or regular phone visitation. The court found reasonable services had been provided; that Father had not complied; and the Department made active efforts to prevent the Indian family's breakup. The court ordered continued services with weekly telephone visits. The court of appeals reversed, finding that, although the likelihood of reunification may be low, the Department was obliged to provide services, regardless of Father’s out-of-state location View "In re T.W." on Justia Law

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Mother and presumed father challenged the juvenile court's order under Welfare and Institutions Code section 366.26 terminating their parental rights to Breanna and David, and identifying adoption as the permanent plan for the children. The court concluded that the Department failed to comply with the notice requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), 25 U.S.C. 1901 et seq. In this case, the Department conceded that it omitted required information from the ICWA notice, and the omission of information mandated by federal law requires that ICWA notices be resent. Therefore, the court remanded to allow the Department and the juvenile court to remedy the violation of federal and state law. The court otherwise conditionally affirmed the order. View "In re Breanna S." on Justia Law

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In July 2015, plaintiff-respondent San Bernardino County Children and Family Services (CFS) was contacted by the maternal grandmother of five children whose mother, defendant-appellant M.G. (mother), had “left the children with her” and then “took off.” The juvenile court declared J.R. and M.R. to be dependents of the court, placing them with the maternal grandmother, and ordering reunification services for mother, but not their father, defendant-appellant R.R. With respect to Ro.R., the juvenile court found two men, R.R., and defendant-respondent S.H., to be presumed fathers. The juvenile court initially took jurisdiction over Ro.R., but subsequently dismissed his dependency petition, awarded sole legal and physical custody to S.H., and set the terms of visitation for mother and R.R. to remain in effect until modified by the family court. Mother argued on appeal that the juvenile court erred by failing to comply with the notice requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), requiring reversal of its orders terminating jurisdiction over Ro.R. and its custody and visitation orders, and remand for compliance with ICWA. R.R. argued ICWA notice was deficient with respect to J.R. and M.R., as well as Ro.R. R.R. also asserted the jurisdictional findings against him under Welfare and Institutions Code section 300, subdivision (g) with respect to the three children were unsupported by substantial evidence. Additionally, R.R. challenged the trial court's finding that S.H. was a presumed father of Ro.R. and contested the custody and visitation orders issued by the juvenile court with respect to Ro.R. upon termination of its jurisdiction. After review, the Court of Appeal reversed the jurisdictional findings against R.R.; the trial court‟s exercise of jurisdiction over Ro.R., J.R. and M.R. on other bases, and all other orders appealed were affirmed. View "In re M.R." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs challenged the Governor’s authority to concur in the decision of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (18 U.S.C. 1166-1167; 25 U.S.C. 2701, to take 305 acres in Madera County into trust for the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians for the purpose of operating a class III gaming casino. The Governor’s concurrence was necessary under federal law for the granting of permission to operate the casino. While the case was pending, the legislature ratified a compact previously negotiated and executed with North Fork by the Governor concerning the terms and conditions for gambling. Plaintiffs then initiated Proposition 48, a referendum by which, at the 2014 general election, the voters disapproved the ratification statute. North Fork alleged that the ratification statute was not subject to referendum. The complaint and cross-complaint were dismissed, so that the land remained in trust for North Fork, but the compact was not ratified, so gaming on the land was not approved. Subsequently, after federal litigation between North Fork and the state, a set of procedures designed to function as an alternative to a state-approved compact was approved by the Secretary of the Interior. The court of appeal concluded that the Governor’s concurrence is invalid in this situation. View "Stand up for California v. State of California" on Justia Law

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Mother appeals from the termination of her parental rights over her daughter, Charlotte V., on the ground the juvenile court failed to comply with the strict notice requirements specified in the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), 25 U.S.C. 1901 et seq. A juvenile dependency petition alleged that Mother repeatedly rammed her car into Father's while Charlotte was sitting in the back seat of Mother's car; Mother also brandished a loaded handgun at Father; the handgun was within Charlotte's reach inside the car; Mother and Father wrestled for the handgun; and Father was arrested for concealing a firearm and Mother was arrested for child endangerment. The court concluded that the record contains substantial evidence of proper notice to the Blackfeet Nation where DCFS provided two notices by certified mail to the tribe containing information about Mother, Father, and Charlotte's grandmother and uncle; the Blackfeet Nation was given a copy of Mother's tribal identification card and number as well as information about Mother's time at the reservation and Charlotte's health care at a health clinic on the reservation; and, because Charlotte claims Indian ancestry from Mother, that information would be sufficient for meaningful review. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "In re Charlotte V." on Justia Law