Justia Native American Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Kelsey, a member of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, was convicted in tribal court of misdemeanor sexual assault for inappropriately touching a tribal employee at the Band’s Community Center. The Community Center is located on land owned by the Band but is not located within tribal reservation boundaries. Kelsey appealed his sentence in tribal court, arguing that the Band lacked criminal jurisdiction over his off-reservation conduct. After his sentence was affirmed, he filed a petition for federal habeas relief, arguing that the Band lacked jurisdiction over his off-reservation conduct and that his appeal in tribal court violated due process protections afforded by the Indian Civil Rights Act, 25 U.S.C. 1302(a)(8). The district court granted habeas relief, holding that the Band lacked criminal jurisdiction to try and punish Kelsey’s off-reservation conduct but declined to rule on Kelsey’s due process challenge. The Sixth Circuit reversed, holding that the Band has jurisdiction because it has not been expressly or implicitly divested of its inherent sovereign authority to prosecute members when necessary to protect tribal self-government or control internal relations. The court held that Kelsey’s due process challenge under the Indian Civil Rights Act failed. View "Kelsey v. Pope" on Justia Law