Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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A tribe qualifies to have land taken into trust for its benefit under 25 U.S.C. 5108 of the Indian Reorganization Act if it (1) was "under Federal jurisdiction" as of June 18, 1934, and (2) is "recognized" at the time the decision is made to take land into trust. The Ninth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the Interior and the Ione Band of Miwok Indians in a case involving a dispute over a proposed casino in the County. The panel held that the Interior's reading of the ambiguous phrase "under Federal jurisdiction" was the best interpretation and the Interior did not err in adopting that interpretation for purposes of deciding whether the Ione Band was "under Federal jurisdiction" as of 1934. Finally, the Interior did not err in allowing the Band to conduct gaming operations on the Plymouth Parcels under the "restored tribe" exception of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), 25 U.S.C. 2719(a). View "County of Amador v. USDOI" on Justia Law

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The Upper Skagit filed a Request for Determination as to the geographic scope of the Suquamish's usual and accustomed fishing grounds and stations (U&A) as determined by Judge Boldt in 1975. The Upper Skagit sought a determination that the Suquamish's U&A determinations did not include Chuckanut Bay, Samish Bay, and a portion of Padilla Bay where the Upper Skagit has its own court-approved U&A determinations (the Contested Waters). The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's conclusion that Judge Boldt did not intend to include the Contested Waters in the Suquamish's U&A determinations. The panel followed the two-step Muckleshoot analytical framework to interpret Judge Boldt's U&A findings, holding that Judge Boldt intended something different from the plain text of his findings and that the Upper Skagit showed that there was no evidence before Judge Boldt that the Suquamish fished or traveled through certain contested areas. View "Upper Skagit Indian Tribe v. Suquamish Indian Tribe" on Justia Law

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The Quinault Indian Nation filed suit against defendants for engaging in a scheme to defraud the Nation of taxes. After the Nation asked the district court to dismiss the action, Edwards' Estate sought to keep the litigation alive in order to litigate counterclaims against the Nation. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the counterclaims as barred by the Nation's sovereign immunity. The panel explained that if Edward's Estate had brought its claims in a separate suit against the Nation, the suit could not proceed. In this case, the counterclaims did not change the sovereign-immunity analysis. The Nation did not waive tribal sovereign immunity where filing suit did not result in wholesale waiver; the nation has not waived immunity to individual counterclaims; and the estate has not asserted a counterclaim for recoupment. The panel also held that the district court properly denied the Estate's motion for leave to amend. View "Quinault Indian Nation v. Pearson" on Justia Law

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The Tribe filed suit seeking a declaration that it has the right to investigate violations of tribal, state, and federal law, detain, and transport or deliver a non-Indian violator encountered on the reservation to the proper authorities. The Ninth Circuit held that the first amended complaint raised a federal question that provided federal courts with subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1331; the Tribe has presented a prudentially ripe case or controversy and the case is constitutionally ripe as well; and the district court's conclusion that the Tribe's response letter mooted all controversies between the parties was erroneous. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Bishop Paiute Tribe v. Inyo County" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the dismissal of relators' qui tam action alleging that the College violated the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. 3729-3733, by knowingly providing false progress reports on students in order to keep grant monies. The panel held that the Tribe is not a "person" under the FCA. The panel remanded for further jurisdictional factfinding on whether the College was an arm of the Tribe that shares the Tribe's status for purposes of the FCA. View "United States ex rel Cain v. Salish Kootenai College, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's decision to enjoin further tribal proceedings regarding whether the Navajo tribal court has jurisdiction over public school districts' employment decisions and practices conducted on the Navajo Reservation. The panel held that the employment-related claims arose from conduct on tribal land and implicate no state criminal law enforcement interests and therefore tribal jurisdiction was colorable or plausible under the panel's interpretation of Nevada v. Hicks, 533 U.S. 353 (2001). The panel explained that well-established exhaustion principles require that the tribal forum have the first opportunity to evaluate its own jurisdiction over this case, including the nature of the state and tribal interests involved. Because the panel's caselaw leaves open the question of what state interests might be sufficient to preclude tribal jurisdiction over disputes arising on tribal land, tribal jurisdiction was plausible enough here that exhaustion was required. View "Window Rock Unified School District v. Nez" on Justia Law