Justia Native American Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Professional Malpractice & Ethics
Northern Arapaho Tribe v. Baldwin, Crocker & Rudd, P.C.
The Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part the judgment of the district court in favor of Baldwin, Crocker & Rudd, P.C. and Kelly Rudd (collectively, BCR) in this action brought by the Northern Arapaho Tribe and the Wind River Hotel & Casino (collectively, the Tribe), holding that the district court's order imposing sanctions on the Tribe was erroneous.The Tribe brought this action seeking injunctions for the return of tribal funds and documents, an accounting, and damages for conversion and civil theft. The district court granted summary judgment for BCR on the accounting and injunctions claims and, after a jury trial, entered final judgment on the conversion and civil theft claim. The Tribe appealed, arguing, among other things, that the district court erred by awarding sanctions under Wyo. R. Civ. P. 11. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that (1) the district court erred in imposing sanctions because BCR failed to comply with the procedural requirements of Rule 11; (2) the district court did not err when it granted summary judgment for BCR on the Tribe's accounting claim; and (3) the Tribe failed to show the verdict would have been more favorable if racially charged evidence had not been admitted. View "Northern Arapaho Tribe v. Baldwin, Crocker & Rudd, P.C." on Justia Law
United States v. Mee
Appellant, the finance officer for the Standing Rock Housing Authority of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, pleaded guilty to theft concerning programs receiving federal funds and was sentenced to the statutory maximum of 120 months imprisonment. At issue was whether the district court committed procedural error when it departed upwards from the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines range, U.S.S.G. 4A1.3, and when it considered ethnicity and other improper factors during sentencing. Also at issue was whether the sentencing was substantively unreasonable. The court held that the district court did not engage in impermissible double counting by departing upwards to criminal history category IV where the district court discussed the nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and characteristics of appellant, the need to avoid unwarranted sentencing disparities between similar defendants, and the need to provide restitution for the victims. The court also held that the sentence was substantively reasonable where any comments regarding race or national origin were not offered as an explanation for imposing sentence but reflected the district court's disagreement with appellant's counsel that the Guidelines were "fair" and that a Guidelines sentence of 70 to 87 months imprisonment was appropriate as a matter of law; where the district court's statements expressed its frustration about its inability to order restitution for an amount closer to the total loss of money rather than a comment on appellant's socio-economic status; and where the district court did not use appellant's lack of an addiction to justify the sentence, but rather to describe his state of mind as he carried out the embezzlement scheme.