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Pascua Yaqui Court Dismisses Ethics Appeal November 5, 2007

Posted by rezjudicata in Pascua Yaqui Court of Appeals, Tribal Courts.
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Frias v. Yucupicio, et. al., No. CA-07-015 (Pas. Yaq. Ct. App., October 16, 2007)

Issue(s): Constitutional Law > Appellate Court Jurisdiction; Constitutional Law > Legislative Powers

In the summer of 2007, the Pascua Yaqui Tribal Council suspended Chairwoman Frias for alleged ethics violations while in office. Frias appealed the Council’s action directly to the Pascua Yaqui Court of Appeals persuant to 2 PYTC § 1-2-100 (A-B). The statute granted Council members the right to appeal ethics violations and also authorized the Court of Appeals to hear such appeals.

The Court held that it had no jurisdiction to hear Frias’ appeal. Explaining that Yaqui culture, customs, and values are paramount in interpretive questions, the Court went on to say that the Yaqui Constitution is the embodiment of those core ideals. Thus, the Constitution is not only supreme law when other laws conflict with it, but also in defining those laws. The Court of Appeals’ jurisdiction under Article VIII, Section 5 of the Pascua Yaqui Constitution extends to appeals from the Pascua Yaqui Tribal Court. Additionally, the Constitution does not grant the Tribal Council authority to enlarge the jurisdiction of the Court. Because Frias’ appealled a decision of the Council and not a tribal court, the Court ruled 2 PYTC § 1-2-100 (A-B) unconstitutional and dismissed the appeal.

[Note: Apologies for the late post. We were aware of this case when it was decided but were unable to obtain a copy of the opinion until now.]

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