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Tenth Circuit Says Tribal Certificate of Title Not Valid to Perfect Security Interest January 29, 2008

Posted by rezjudicata in 10th Circuit, Federal Circuits.
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In re Harper, No. 07-5016 (10th Cir. Jan. 24, 2008)

Issue(s): Bankruptcy > Security Interests; UCC > Secured Transactions >> Perfection >>> Oklahoma Law; UCC > Secured Transactions >> Certificates of Title >>> Priority under Tribal Law

After purchasing a truck, Harper granted a security interest to the credit union for a loan to pay off the dealer’s financing loan. The credit union noted its interest on a Muscogee (Creek) Nation certificate of title. Bankruptcy ensued and the trustee claimed that the union’s security interest was unperfected and therefore not entitled to satisfaction in the bankruptcy. Did the Nation’s certificate of title perfect the credit union’s security interest?

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Alaska Supreme Court Refuses to Enforce Tribal Adoption Resolution January 27, 2008

Posted by rezjudicata in State Courts.
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Starr v. George, No. S-12456 (Alaska, Jan. 18, 2008)

Issue(s): Full Faith and Credit > Foreign Judgments >> Enforcement; ICWA > Divorce Exception; ICWA > Full Faith and Credit >> Child Custody Proceedings

The Starrs and Georges are the maternal and paternal grandparents of two Tlingit children. After their daughter killed her husband, the Starrs took guardianship of the children. The Georges received visitation privileges. When disputes over visitation surfaced, the Georges sought custody in Alaska state court. Without informing the Georges, the Starrs then obtained Angoon tribal council authorization to adopt the children. Must the Alaska state court enforce the council resolutions and dismiss the Georges’ custody suit?

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Little River Court of Appeals Upholds Conviction of Appellate Justice January 27, 2008

Posted by rezjudicata in Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Tribal Court of App, Tribal Courts.
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Champagne v. Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, No. 06-178-AP (Little Riv. B. App. June __ , 2007)

Issue(s): Jurisdiction > Criminal Jurisdiction >> Tribal Members; Jurisdiction > Criminal Jurisdiction >> Indian Country; Incorporation of State Law > Traditional Tribal Law >> Crimes; Little River Band Constitutional Law > Right to Jury >> Punishment

As an employee of the Little River Band, Justice Champagne often used his personal vehicle to accomplish work-related errands. While on a personal detour one day, Justice Champagne collided with another motorist. Justice Champagne sought reimbursement from the Tribe for his loss claiming he was headed to a client’s home. Caught in the lie, the Tribe prosecuted and convicted Justice Champagne for attempting to defraud the Tribe. Given that the Tribe incorporated the attempt statute from the Michigan criminal code, was the conviction proper?

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Hoopa Court of Appeals Rules on Death Benefits for Volunteer Workers January 25, 2008

Posted by rezjudicata in Hoopa Valley Tribal Court of Appeals, Tribal Courts.
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Cooper v. Hoopa Valley Tribal Council, No. C-03-065 (Hoopa App. Dec. __ , 2007)

Issue(s): Tribal Sovereign Immunity > Waiver; Employee Benefits > Death Benefits >> Volunteer Workers

By resolution, the Hoopa Valley Tribal Council extended the Tribe’s Worker’s Compensation Insurance coverage to volunteer workers. The worker’s compensation statute fixes death benefits at “four times the annual earnings from the Hoopa Valley Tribal Council.” Cooper’s father worked as a volunteer firefighter for the Tribe. Responding to an emergency call one day, he died in a car accident. Does the Tribe have to pay death benefits?

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Ninth Circuit Tells Father To Exhaust Tribal Court Remedies January 19, 2008

Posted by rezjudicata in 9th Circuit, Federal Circuits.
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Atwood v. Fort Peck Tribal Court, No. 06-35299 (9th Cir. Jan. 18, 2008)

Issue(s): Federal Jurisdiction > Subject Matter Jurisdiction >> § 1331 >>> Domestic Relations Exception; Federal Jurisdiction > Exhaustion of Tribal Remedies

Federal question jurisdiction exists for challenges to tribal court jurisdiction. As a prudential matter, however, an appellant must exhaust his tribal remedies before the federal court will exercise its jurisdiction. Linda Hanson sought custody of her niece in the Fort Peck Tribal Court. While this case was pending, Atwood sued to enjoin the tribal court action in federal court. Did the district court have jurisdiction over Atwood’s suit? Even so, did Atwood need to exhaust his tribal court remedies?

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Ninth Circuit Says Karuk Defendant Failed To Establish Individual Aboriginal Title January 19, 2008

Posted by rezjudicata in 9th Circuit, Federal Circuits.
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United States v. Lowry, No. 06-10469 (9th Cir. Jan. 16, 2008).

Issue(s): Criminal Law > Criminal Procedure >> Burden of Proof >>> Elements; Criminal Law > Criminal Procedure >> Defenses >>> Individual Aboriginal Title

The Forest Service prohibits permanent human occupation of National Forest lands. The doctrine of individual aboriginal title, however, may prevent application of the regulation. Lowry, a Karuk Indian, and her family have lived on sections of the Klamath National Forest since at least the turn of the century. It is unclear, however, whether the family occupied Lowry’s parcel for an unbroken period of time. At Lowry’s trial for violating the regulation, did Lowry have to raise individual aboriginal title as an affirmative defense? If so, did she present enough evidence to establish title?

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Wyoming Supreme Court Rules 1905 Act Diminished Wind River Reservation January 18, 2008

Posted by rezjudicata in State Courts.
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Yellowbear v. Wyoming, 2008 WY 4 (Wyo. Jan. 14, 2008)

Issue(s): Indian Country Crimes > State Jurisdiction >> Diminishment

When Congress, through legislation, diminishes an area of Indian Country, the State may gain jurisdiction over that area. An 1868 treaty established the Wind River Indian Reservation in northern Wyoming. In 1905, a surplus land act purported to cede a large area of the Reservation. Wyoming prosecuted Yellowbear for a crime committed in the ceded area. Did the 1905 act diminish the Wind River Indian Reservation, thus allowing Wyoming to exercise jurisdiction over Yellowbear?

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7th Circuit Upholds Jurisdiction in Suit Against Ho-Chunk Nation January 18, 2008

Posted by rezjudicata in 7th Circuit, Federal Circuits.
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Wisconsin v. Ho-Chunk Nation, No. 07-1584 (7th Cir. Jan. 14, 2007)

Issue(s): Federal Jurisdiction > Appellate Jurisdiction >> Interlocutory Appeals >>> Collateral Orders Doctrine; Federal Jurisdiction > Congressional Enlargement >> IGRA; Federal Jurisdiction > Supplemental Jurisdiction >> State Law Claims; Tribal Sovereign Immunity > Abrogation or Waiver; Tribal Sovereign Immunity > Waiver >> Reciprocal Revocation

For federal courts to have jurisdiction over a case, the plaintiff’s cause of action must arise under federal law. A subsection of the IGRA grants jurisdiction over state lawsuits to enjoin class III gaming that violates an IGRA-negotiated Tribal-State compact. Wisconsin claimed that the Ho Chunk Nation refused to pay amounts due under a revenue-sharing agreement or submit to arbitration, which were provisions of the compact. Does the federal law grant jurisdiction over Wisconsin’s suit? If so, does the court also have supplemental jurisdiction over Wisconsin’s state law claims? And even if there is jurisdiction, does tribal sovereign immunity bar any of Wisconsin’s claims?

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Tenth Circuit Affirms Kiowa Cockfighter Conviction January 12, 2008

Posted by rezjudicata in 10th Circuit, Federal Circuits.
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United States v. Gachot, No. 07-6061 (10th Cir. Jan. 10, 2008)

Issue(s): Federal Jurisdiction > Criminal Law >> Indian Country; Federal Jurisdiction > Mootness >> Dismissed Indictment

On appeal, defendants may only challenge the specific charge that led to a specific conviction. A federal grand jury indicted Gachot for his involvement in a cockfighting ring located in Indian country. After the district court denied his jurisdictional challenges, Gachot reached a plea agreement with the government. In exchange for his guilty plea, the government dismissed the original indictments and substituted a one count information alleging violations of a federal gaming law. Can Gachot challenge the district court’s jurisdiction over the original indictments on appeal? If not, did the district court lack jurisdiction over the one count information?

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Navajo Supreme Court Says Navajo Housing Authority Must Satisfy Judgment January 10, 2008

Posted by rezjudicata in Navajo Supreme Court, Tribal Courts.
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Tso v. Navajo Housing Authority, No. SC-CV-20-06 (Nav. Sup. Ct. Dec. 28, 2007)

Issue(s): Navajo Bill of Rights > Retroactive Legislation >> Ex Post Facto Laws; Federal Programs > Satisfaction of Judgments; Navajo Law > Diné bi’ ó’ool’iil

The Navajo Bill of Rights prohibits ex post facto legislation that strips individuals of their fundamental rights. After Tso won a judgment against the Navajo Housing Authority, the Navajo Council amended the code to expressly extend immunity to the Navajo Housing Authority and exempt it from execution. When Tso sought to enforce the judgment, the Housing Authority claimed the amended legislation prevented enforcement. As applied, is the amended legislation a prohibited ex post facto law? If so, do federal guidelines nevertheless prevent the Housing Authority from satisfying the judgment from federal funds?

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