Eighth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of FTCA Claim involving Rosebud Sioux Tribal Police

Here is the opinion in Sorace v. United States

An excerpt:

Norma Sorace (“Sorace”), Administratix of the Estates of Melanie Sorace and Jahneva Cannaday, a minor, filed suit against the United States of America alleging a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) based upon a drunk-driving accident on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Melanie Sorace and Jahneva Cannaday were killed when an intoxicated Shad Dillon (“Dillon”) crashed his pickup into a vehicle driven by Melanie Sorace. Sorace alleges that the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s Police Department (“RST PD”) was negligent in failing to locate and arrest Dillon prior to the accident. The United States of America (“United States”) filed a motion to dismiss, which the district court1 granted. Sorace appeals, and we affirm.

Posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Research | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

New Study on American Indian School-To-Prison Pipeline Problem in Utah

Here is “Disparities in Discipline: A Look at School Disciplinary Actions for Utah’s American Indian Students.

The abstract:

A number of recent studies and reports have examined the school-to-prison pipeline (STPP) and its impact on students of color. Few, if any, of these documents have focused on the troubling and undeniable effects of the pipeline on American Indian students. Nationally, 22% of all American Indian students receive disciplinary action at school, compared to 14.1% of all white students.1 In Utah, these students are almost four times (3.8) more likely to receive a school disciplinary action compared to their white counterparts.

Posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Education, Scholarship | Tagged | Leave a comment

SCOTUS Denies Cert in Stop the Casino 101 v. California

Here is today’s order list. 

Petition here

Posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, gaming, IGRA, Research, Supreme Court | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Interior Solicitor Position Opening


From the description:

This position is located at the U.S. Department of the Interior (Department), Office of the Solicitor (Office), Division of Indian Affairs, Branch of Tribal Government Services, located in Washington, D.C. 

The selectee will serve as a legal advisor to the Secretary through representation of the Department’s bureaus, namely the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Office of Justice Services (BIA OJS). The selectee will be responsible for: (1) reviewing and preparing litigation reports, overseeing discovery, drafting pleadings and reviewing Department of Justice filings in judicial litigation on matters within assigned areas of responsibility arising out of the various programs and activities for BIA OJS including Law Enforcement, Tribal Courts, Detention, and Victim Services; and (2) providing key advice to executive-level management officials within BIA OJS. 

Posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, jobs | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Repost: Organizations and Law Professors Comment on Proposed ICWA Regulations

Here is a selection of a few of the major groups in support of the proposed ICWA regulations (as available from Regulations.gov or sent directly to us at fort [at] law [dot] msu [dot] edu):

American Bar Association
Association on American Indian Affairs
Casey Family Programs, with additional signatories including NNABA and TLPI
Children’s Defense Fund
The Donaldson Adoption Institute
ICWA Law Center
Michigan Tribal-State Judicial Forum
National Indian Child Welfare Association
National American Indian Court Judges Association
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges

Letter from:
Advocates for Children and Youth
Children’s Defense Fund
Children and Family Futures
Child Welfare League of America
Foster Family-Based Treatment Association
Generations United
National Children’s Alliance
National Crittenton Foundation
National Foster Parent Association
Nebraska Appleseed
Nebraska Families Collaborative
New Mexico Child Advocacy Networks
North American Council on Adoptable Children

Law Professors Comment. Signed by 21 clinicians, professors, and deans representing more than 15 law schools.

Times have certainly changed since the original Guidelines were issued. Administrative law and the power of the federal government have shifted considerably in the past forty years. In addition, there was no way the federal government could foresee the dramatically different applications of ICWA across the fifty states. These new regulations are necessary because without them the application of the law is arbitrary, with Indian children treated differently depending on which state’s courtroom they are in. Having disparate interpretations of ICWA was certainly not the intent of Congress in passing a federal law, and conflicts with the rationale of the Supreme Court’s decision in Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians v. Holyfield, 490 U.S. 30, 45-46 (1989) (describing the need for uniformity in defining ‘‘domicile’’ under ICWA). These regulations will provide a stronger measure of consistency in the implementation of ICWA and prevent the application of different minimum standards across the United States, contrary to Congress’ intent.

One of our second year law students at MSU Law, Whitney Gravelle, was a huge help in researching issues related to administrative authority and getting a first draft going.


Posted in Author: Kate E. Fort, Child Welfare, ICWA | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

State Comments to Proposed ICWA Regulations

Judicial Council of California

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Unpublished ICWA Indian Custodian Case out of California


The evidence that mother transferred custody of the minors to the paternal grandmother as an Indian custodian was equivocal and compromised. Although maternal grandmother took N.J. to the emergency room, she gave conflicting information regarding whether she had custody of the children. For example, while she told police that she provided care for the minors, mother had custody of them. Likewise, she told doctors that mother had custody of N.J. and that N.J. lived with mother. Indeed, maternal grandmother’s inconsistent and equivocal answers regarding who had custody of the minors was one reason that they were placed in protective custody.
Additional facts undercut any claim that maternal grandmother was an Indian custodian. L.J. was found with father at maternal grandmother’s house the day N.J. was admitted to the hospital. While the Citizen Potawatomi Nation had a specific procedure for establishing an Indian custodian, maternal grandmother did not avail herself of this procedure to establish herself as the minors’ Indian custodian. While the tribe was represented at the hearing on maternal grandmother’s request to be recognized as an Indian custodian, the tribe did not claim she was the minors’ custodian and did not object to the trial court’s ruling denying the request and reinstating the orders terminating parental rights. Finally, we find it telling that an alleged Indian custodian of the minors did not visit or request contact with the minors since October 1, 2012, five days after they were placed in protective custody.

Posted in Author: Kate E. Fort, Child Welfare, ICWA | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

News Coverage of Controversies at Lower Brule

Here is “Delegation being sent to inspect Lower Brule financial records.”

Posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, News | Tagged | Leave a comment

New Scholarship on Tribal Court Jurisdiction in Alaska

The Alaska Law Review has published “Advancing Tribal Court Jurisdiction in Alaska.”

Here is the abstract:

Extensive case law already exists in Alaska on the jurisdiction of tribal courts over domestic relations cases, with one of the seminal cases—John v. Baker—establishing that Alaska tribes have jurisdiction even in the absence of Indian country. A common assumption, though, is that Alaska tribes do not have jurisdiction over criminal offenses. This Article argues that both under the logic of John v. Baker and the development of Indian law in the Lower 48, Alaska tribes already possess inherent jurisdiction over criminal offenses within their Native villages. With the gamut of social challenges facing Alaska Natives in rural Alaska, tribes need to be empowered to exercise this jurisdiction.

Posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Scholarship, tribal courts | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Ann Tweedy on Tribal Gun Regulation

Ann Tweedy has published “Indian Tribes and Gun Regulation: Should Tribes Exercise Their Sovereign Rights to Enact Gun Bans or Stand-Your-Ground Laws?” in the Albany Law Review.

Posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Scholarship | Tagged , | Leave a comment