Justia Native American Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in California Court of Appeal
Co. of Riverside v. WCAB
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
In re T.W.
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
In re Breanna S.
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
In re M.R.
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
Stand up for California v. State of California
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
In re Charlotte V.
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
In re: O.C.
The children, ages two and four, were detained after their parents‘ residence was raided by the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force. Both parents allegedly had substance abuse problems. Father was in Mendocino County jail. Months later, the court ordered the children to be returned to Mother under a family maintenance plan. Weeks later, Mother was arrested in another raid; drug paraphernalia and honey oil were found within the children‘s reach. The children were detained. Father‘s reunification services were later terminated for lack of compliance. Mother’s services were terminated for lack of compliance and inability to have the children returned to her by the 12-month review. Over mother‘s objection, visitation was later terminated, due to distance. The court eventually terminated parental rights. The parents appealed, arguing failure to comply with the notice requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 U.S.C. 1901. The minors‘ possible Wailaki Native American ancestry was first noted in the initial petition. Father‘s attorney informed the court that Father had provided to the social worker a completed ICWA-020 form indicating he had both Wailaki and Pomo heritage. The court of appeal reversed the termination of parental rights. Not all of the Pomo Indian Bands were noticed. View "In re: O.C." on Justia Law
United Auburn Indian Community of Auburn Rancheria v. Brown
In 2002 the Enterprise Rancheria of Maidu Indians of California (Enterprise Tribe) submitted a request to the United States Department of the Interior (Department) to acquire a site in Yuba County for the purpose of establishing a casino/hotel resort complex. Pursuant to statute, the Secretary was authorized to acquire land, within or without an existing reservation, for the purpose of providing land for Indians. Land so acquired after October 17, 1988, could not, with some exceptions, be used for gaming. The exception at issue here was where the Secretary “after consultation with the Indian tribe and appropriate State and local officials, including officials of other nearby Indian tribes, determines that a gaming establishment on newly acquired lands would be in the best interest of the Indian tribe and its members, and would not be detrimental to the surrounding community, but only if the Governor of the State in which the gaming activity is to be conducted concurs in the Secretary’s determination.” The Governor indicated his official concurrence with the Assistant Secretary’s determination. Plaintiff Auburn Tribe owned and operated the Thunder Valley Resort and Casino, approximately 20 miles from the Yuba County site. The Auburn Tribe filed a petition for writ of mandate and complaint for declaratory relief, alleging: (1) the Governor was required to comply with California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) before concurring in the Secretary’s decision to take lands into trust for the Enterprise Tribe; and (2) the Governor performed a legislative act when he concurred with the Secretary and when he negotiated and executed the compact with the Enterprise Tribe, in violation of the constitutional mandate of separation of powers. After review, the Court of Appeals concluded the CEQA did not apply here, and that the Governor’s concurrence did not violate the separation of powers clause. Accordingly, the Court affirmed. View "United Auburn Indian Community of Auburn Rancheria v. Brown" on Justia Law
In re Michael V.
Mother appeals the juvenile court's order terminating her parental rights to Alissa and K.C., and identifying adoption as the permanent plan for her two daughters. The court concluded that the Department did not adequately investigate Mother's claim of Indian ancestry pursuant to the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA), 25 U.S.C. 1901 et seq. Therefore, the court remanded for the juvenile court to direct the Department to conduct a meaningful investigation into Mother's claim of Indian ancestry, including making genuine efforts to locate other family members who might have information bearing on the children's possible Indian ancestry. The court conditionally affirmed the order and remanded for compliance with the inquiry and notice provisions of the ICWA. View "In re Michael V." on Justia Law
Findleton v. Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians
The Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians and Findleton entered into the Construction Agreement for a gaming facility. In 2008 (10 months later), the Tribe suspended construction because the financial meltdown had adversely affected its ability to secure financing. In 2012, Findleton sought to compel ADR under the Agreement The Tribe asserted that it had not waived its sovereign immunity or consented to suit in the state court and that Findleton’s failure to exhaust his tribal administrative remedies deprived the court of jurisdiction. Findleton cited resolutions by the Tribal Council, waiving immunity. The Tribe has a General Council, consisting of all tribal members 18 years or older, and the Tribal Council, an elective body consisting of seven members of the General Council whose powers are more narrowly circumscribed. The Tribe’s constitution does not permit the Tribal Council to waive sovereign immunity without the General Council’s “consent” and “prior approval.” The court of appeal reversed the trial court’s dismissal of the action, finding that the Council was authorized to waive the Tribe’s immunity and did so in resolutions adopted in 2008 and on June 2, 2007, “in order to attract other individuals and entities to do business with the Tribe.” View "Findleton v. Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians" on Justia Law