Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil

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Kenneth and Donna Johnson appealed a district court judgment recognizing a tribal judgment from the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Court (Tribal Court). The Johnsons owned land within the Coeur d’Alene Reservation (Reservation) on the banks of the St. Joe River and had a dock and pilings on the river. The Coeur d’Alene Tribe (Tribe) initiated an action in Tribal Court to enforce a tribal statute which required a permit for docks on the St. Joe River within the Reservation. The Johnsons did not appear and a default judgment was entered against them. The judgment imposed a civil penalty of $17,400 and declared that the Tribe was entitled to remove the dock and pilings. On January 2016, the Tribe filed a petition to have the Tribal Court judgment recognized in Idaho pursuant to the Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act. I.C. sections 10-1301, et seq. The district court held the Tribal Judgment was valid and enforceable, entitled to full faith and credit. However, the Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court was incorrect in holding the Tribal Judgment was entitled to full faith and credit, and the civil penalty was not entitled to recognition in Idaho courts. However, the Idaho Supreme Court held the Tribal Court had jurisdiction over the Johnsons and the subject matter of this case; the Johnsons did not meet their burden of establishing the Tribal Court did not have jurisdiction, and the Johnsons were afforded due process in Tribal Court. In this case the judgment comprised two parts: (1) the civil penalty of $17,400; and (2) the declaration that the Tribe had the right to remove the offending encroachment. The civil penalty was not enforceable under principles of comity. However, the penal law rule does not prevent courts from recognizing declaratory judgments of foreign courts. Therefore, the Idaho Supreme Court vacated the district court’s judgment to the extent that it recognized the Tribal Court’s judgment imposing the civil penalty of $17,400. The Court affirmed the judgment recognizing the Tribal Court judgment regarding the Tribe’s right to remove the dock and pilings. View "Coeur d' Alene Tribe v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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Appellant the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes intervened in the adoption proceedings of a minor child (Child). While the adoption itself was not at issue on appeal, disputes that arose during the adoption proceedings were. Respondents Jane and John Doe (Does) initiated adoption proceedings for Child after the rights of Child’s parents were terminated. Because Child might have qualified for protection under the laws protecting an Indian child’s welfare, the Tribes were given notice and intervened in the adoption proceeding. The trial court appointed an independent attorney for the child whose costs were to be split by the Tribes and the Does. Discovery disputes arose during the proceedings, and the trial court issued sanctions against the Tribes. The trial court found the facts before it insufficient to establish that Child was an Indian child, and thus concluded that the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) did not govern the proceeding. Despite this conclusion, the court applied the ICWA’s placement preferences out of concern for Child’s best interests. The Does prevailed in the adoption, and the court granted them attorney fees as the prevailing party. The Tribes contested the discovery rulings, sanctions, failure to find Child an Indian child, and the grant of attorney fees against them, claiming sovereign immunity and a misapplication of the law. The Idaho Supreme Court did not reach the issue of the trial court’s failure to find that Child was an Indian child because it concluded any error was harmless. However, the Court found that trial court’s order compelling discovery was an abuse of discretion. The trial court’s order preventing the Tribes from processing or filing any enrollment for tribal membership on behalf of Child was also an abuse of discretion. Further, the additional order granting attorney fees in the Does’ favor as the prevailing party violated the Tribes’ sovereign immunity. The Court reversed on these latter issues and remanded the case for further proceedings. The Court affirmed the trial court in all other respects. View "John Doe v. Shoshone-Bannock Tribes" on Justia Law