Articles Posted in Native American 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

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Doe and C.C.’s mother (Mother) are the biological parents of C.C., who was born in 2008. Doe, Mother, and C.C. are all members of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation (Tribes). Doe and Mother were never married, but lived together sporadically during the initial portion of C.C.’s life until Mother ended the relationship in 2010. In July of 2010, Doe shot Mother in front of C.C. Doe pleaded guilty to Attempted First Degree Murder and was sentenced to serve fifteen years, with nine years fixed. He was not eligible for parole until July of 2019. Mother married C.C.’s stepfather on October 15, 2010. Stepfather was also a member of the Tribes. The issue in this case presented for the Supreme Court's review centered on a magistrate court’s judgment terminating John Doe’s parental rights and allowing C.C. to be adopted. Doe argued that the magistrate court did not have jurisdiction to hear the case. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Termination of Parental Rights of John Doe (2014-25)" on Justia Law

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Jane Doe appealed an order terminating her parental rights to her son, TSD. Because TSD was an "Indian child" as defined by the Indian Child Welfare Act, the magistrate court was required to make findings in addition to those required by Idaho law. Among other findings, the Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) was required to satisfy the court that it made "active efforts" to "prevent the breakup of the Indian family." On appeal, Doe argued that the magistrate court erred in finding that DHW made such efforts and erred in failing to make that finding by clear and convincing evidence. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the magistrate court's decision terminating Doe's parental rights. View "In re Termination of Parental Rights of Jane (2014-23) Doe" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from Native Wholesale Supply Company's (NWS) cigarette sales to Warpath, Inc. NWS is an Indian retailer organized under the tribal laws of the Sac and Fox Nation. It operates on the Seneca reservation in New York. Warpath is an Idaho corporation that operates on the Coeur d'Alene reservation. The State of Idaho brought suit against NWS for acting as a cigarette wholesaler without a permit and for selling cigarettes that are unlawful for sale in Idaho. The district court enjoined NWS from selling wholesale cigarettes in Idaho without a wholesale permit and assessed civil penalties in the amount of $214,200. NWS appealed that decision, arguing the State did not have subject matter jurisdiction or personal jurisdiction. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded to the district court for further proceedings. The Court found that NWS's sales to Warpath were exempt from Idaho taxation, and NWS was not required to obtain a wholesale permit. Furthermore, the State had subject matter over NWS's importation of non-compliant cigarettes into the State of Idaho, and that the State could validly exercise personal jurisdiction over NWS. View "Idaho Tax Commission v. Native Wholesale Supply" on Justia Law