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June 2016                                                                                         Volume 2, Number 6
Mark Radoff, Escondido Senior Attorney, at the California Supreme Court.
On May 3, 2016, the California Supreme Court held argument on two Indian Child Welfare Act Cases-only the third and fourth times that the high court has accepted an ICWA case since 1991. California Indian Legal Services has participated in all four cases:  Slone v. Inyo County (1991); In re W.B. (2012) and filed amicus briefs in the two 2016 disputes. In both of this term's cases,  Abbigail A.  and  Isaiah W.,  CILS presented oral argument before the state Supreme Court.

At issue in  Abbigail A.   was whether Social Services has an obligation to assist an Indian child with her enrollment application after the Cherokee Tribe acknowledged her eligibility, but her father had not yet enrolled. Sacramento County Social Services opposed assisting, and objected to application of the ICWA while Abbigail's application was pending.  Isaiah W.  addressed whether a mother forfeited her right to raise ICWA notice violations by not appealing at the early-stage dispositional hearing. 
One overarching goal of the CTCJA is to bring greater awareness to state and federal governments of the unique legal needs of the tribal communities that Tribal Courts serve.
March 22, 2016:  California has the largest Native American population in the country, with over 100 sovereign Indian Nations within its borders. With over twenty active Tribal Courts, California is the home to numerous innovative Tribal Court systems that seek to provide transparent, efficient and effective justice to tribal members throughout the state.  Yet, many of these Tribal Courts face common challenges, ranging from lack of funding and resources to problems with state recognition of their orders. California Indian Legal Services (CILS), with the encouragement of a number of California Tribal Court judges, has formed the California Tribal Court Judges' Association (CTCJA) to provide a forum for Tribal Court professionals to exchange ideas, address common opportunities, promote the independence and recognition of Tribal Courts, and project a unified voice on state and federal actions that impact tribal jurisdiction.

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In March 2016, Supervisor Dave Roberts visited CILS' Escondido office. Supervisor Roberts was interested in the 18 tribes located in San Diego County and how CILS serves these populations with legal assistance.

CILS Staff in photo: Directing Attorney Mark Vezzola; Director of Development Nicole Scott; Supervisor Dave Roberts; and CILS Chairman Mark Romero.
CILS Promotes and Adds New Attorneys and Staff 
Several personnel changes have occurred in our Sacramento office. Jedd Parr, Eureka Staff Attorney, has been promoted to Sacramento Directing Attorney. CILS welcomes Blake Atkerson, new Sacramento Staff Attorney. Blake is a former law clerk in the Sacramento Office and after graduation worked for Sonoma County Counsel Office in their Groundwater Management Division. Blake is an enrolled member of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma. Kimberly White is our new Legal Assistant in the Sacramento Office. Kim has extensive legal secretarial experience and joined the staff at the end of April. 

In the Bishop office, Jasmine Andreas, Bishop Staff Attorney, has been promoted to Bishop Directing Attorney.
CILS Welcomes Intern Anna Hohag 
CILS is pleased to host this summer Anna Hohag a law clerk from Seattle University School of Law's Center for Indian Law & Policy to perform will drafting services for a local tribe. Originally from Bishop, Anna is a second year student at the University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law, where she is president of the Native American Law Students Association. Welcome Anna!
 CILS Welcomes California Bar Foundation Fellow,
Laura Neacato, to Bishop Office 
Growing up in Southern California, Laura Neacato received her B.A. in Philosophy from the University of California, Los Angeles. Throughout her undergraduate career, she focused on providing education and resources to underserved communities in both Africa and the United States.

As a recent law school graduate of the University of San Francisco, Laura's work focused on International Human Rights and Bankruptcy law. As an American Bankruptcy Institute Medal of Excellence Recipient, and a United States Bankruptcy Court judicial extern for the Honorable Elaine M. Hammond, Laura found Bankruptcy as another means to provide access and justice to underserved communities.
BISHOP: Jasmine Andreas, Directing Attorney, has been holding senior presentations throughout the Bishop service area on Durable Power of Attorney, Advanced Health Care Directives, simple wills and other estate planning tools.

ESCONDIDO: Mark Vezzola, Directing Attorney, successfully had the State Forestry Service dismiss its citation against our client for burning on his allotment without a fire permit. The Forestry Service dismissed the case the day of argument on our motion to Dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. 

The client said, "Mark Vezzola was very professional, he did a great job. The trial was to the point and had a lot of legal points, I knew we would win before we even went to court. Thank you for giving up a day to go to court."

EUREKA: Delia Parr, Directing Attorney, and Elizabeth Pacheco, Staff Attorney, have been traveling and presenting ICWA Tribal Advocates Training throughout the state. These trainings are part of a project funded by State of California, Department of Social Services. They also created a series of ICWA Training webinars available here.

SACRAMENTO: Nic Mazanec, Directing Attorney, made  American Indian Probate Reform Act  ( AIPRA ) and estate planning presentations at Big Sandy Rancheria.
Supreme Court Amicus Submitted in Little River Band of Ottawa Labor Dispute 
The Amicus Brief asks the high court to resolve a split amongst the Federal Circuit Courts.
March 18, 2016:  California Indian Legal Services filed an Amicus Brief with the Rincon Band of Mission Indians requesting the United States Supreme Court review the National Labor Relation Board's decision against the Little River Band of Ottawa and Soaring Eagle Casino. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a decision invalidating both tribes' Tribal Labor Relations Ordinance, or TLRO. The NLRB, or Board, ruled that the tribal labor laws were pre-empted by the federal law, the National Labor Relations Act. The specific issue had to do with labor organizing and strike prohibitions, but the larger issue affecting California tribes is whether one agency, the Board, can contradict another federal agency, the Department of Interior, who had approved California tribes' gaming compacts that included a TLRO as a component part.

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To Whom It May Concern,

The Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians has had the opportunity and pleasure to hire California Indian Legal Services to assist the Tribe with some legal matters.

The Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians was extremely pleased with the professional manner in which CILS handled the Tribe's matters and would recommend CILS to anyone or Other organization seeking professionalism, courtesy and timely work.

Virgil F. Oyos
Tribal Chairmen 
Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians

We encourage you to think about CILS while you are shopping on Amazon. Smile because you are making a difference for California Indians that needs low cost and no cost legal aid. We are here to provide this legal assistance and with your help, we can.
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