Ninth Circuit Affirms Indian Country Capital Murder Conviction

Kinda, somewhat interesting case arising on the Colville Reservation, where the defendant wasn’t indicted for more than 10 years after the crime — United States v. Gallaher. Here is the court’s take:

The Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994 conditionally eliminated the death penalty for Native American defendants prosecuted under the Major Crimes Act or the General Crimes Act, subject to the penalty being reinstated by a tribe’s governing body. See 18 U.S.C. § 3598. In 2005, a federal grand jury indicted defendant-appellant James H. Gallaher, Jr., for first degree murder, more than 14 years after he killed Edwin Pooler on the Colville Indian Reservation in eastern Washington. Because the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation have not reinstated the death penalty, Gallaher argues that he is not subject to the death penalty and thus the five year federal statute of limitations for noncapital crimes applies to his offense. See id. §§ 3281-82. We disagree and hold that first degree murder remains a capital offense, regardless of whether capital punishment can be imposed in a particular case.

There was a dissenter (Judge Tashima), who argued:

In my view, the Federal Death Penalty Act removes first degree murder committed within the boundaries of “Indian country” from the realm of offenses punishable by death and delegates to the tribes the authority to determine the availability of the death penalty. See 18 U.S.C. § 3598. The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation has not elected to make the death penalty available for first degree murder on the Colville Reservation. Thus, capital punishment has been clearly eliminated for the crime for which Gallaher was indicted. Because Gallaher has not been indicted for an “offense punishable by death,” see 18 U.S.C. § 3281, the five-year statute of limitations applies, see 18 U.S.C. § 3282.

Here are the materials:

Gallaher Opening Brief

US Appellee Brief in Gallaher

Gallaher Reply Brief

This entry was posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Criminal, Research, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Ninth Circuit Affirms Indian Country Capital Murder Conviction

  1. Pingback: Ninth Circuit Panel Issues Amended Order in Colville Death Penalty Case « Turtle Talk

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