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March 2018                                                                               Volume 4, Number 13
Save the Date
25th Annual Indian Child Welfare Act Conference
"Weaving Traditions to Defend, Protect & Honor Indian Children, Families, and Tribes"

Hosted by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria and Co-Sponsored by California Department of Social Services, California Tribal Families Coalition, California Indian Legal Services, and Office of Tribal Affairs.
June 4-6, 2018 at
Graton Resort & Casino
288 Golf Course Drive West
Rohnert Park, CA 94928

Learn More
In 2017, CILS Senior Staff Attorney Mark Radoff, who also serves as the Chief Judge of the Chemehuevi Tribal Court, assisted the Tribe in securing over $200,000 in funding for court-related expenses from the Tribal Justice Support Unit of the BIA-Office of Justice Services. Tribal courts, while essential to promoting justice and sovereignty on reservation land, are costly. Grants from the TJS can be vital to the continued existence and expansion of tribal judicial systems.
  Bishop Tribe v. Inyo County et. al. Update
Oral argument on the Defendants' Motions to Dismiss was held October 17th before District Judge Dale A. Drozd in the Federal District Court Central District in Fresno. The Judge denied all three Motions to Dismiss on January 10, 2018. The parties have engaged in early settlement discussions but further litigation is very possible.

Escondido, CA -  February 5, 2018:  Mica Llerandi joins the CILS team as a Staff Attorney providing legal assistance to tribes and Indian organizations.

"After clerking with CILS in 2010, I am excited to return to the Escondido office as a staff attorney," Llerandi said.

Mica Llerandi, a member of the Navajo Nation, joined CILS as a Staff Attorney in January 2018. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from Yale University and her Juris Doctor and a Certificate in Indigenous People's Law and Policy from the University of Arizona, James E Rogers College of Law. During law school, Mica was selected to be a Morris K. Udall Foundation Native American Congressional Intern, interning at the Department of Defense with the Army Corps of Engineers. The following summer, Mica clerked with CILS in its Escondido office. As part of her law school coursework, she assisted Professor S. James Anaya in his capacity as the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and helped with tribal code development for the White Mountain Apache Tribe. After law school, Mica worked on multiple Indian reservations in both state and tribal courts in Arizona. First on the Navajo Nation as a Staff Attorney and Domestic Violence Project Director with DNA- People's Legal Services, then on the Gila River Indian Community as a Deputy Community Prosecutor, and lastly on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community as a Guardian ad Litem. She moved to California in 2016 and, before joining CILS, represented children in San Diego County dependency proceedings. In her spare time, she likes to read, cook, crochet, and hike with her husband and dogs.

Davina Whitethorne joins the CILS team as a Senior Administrative Assistant providing support to both the marketing and development department and the accounting department.

"I am very fortunate and thankful for the opportunity to provide support in any way to CILS. I look forward to utilizing my experiences and education to promote CILS' vision of protecting Indian rights," Whitethorne said.

Davina Whitethorne is a Senior Administrative Assistant at the Escondido office. As a member of the Dine' (Navajo) Tribe, she was born and raised on the reservation. Davina moved to San Diego fifteen years ago. She studied Criminal Justice at the University of Phoenix and is working on her Masters of Law in Indigenous People's Law from the University of Oklahoma. She brings twelve years of administrative experience to CILS. Passionate about Indian rights, working at CILS was a natural fit. In her free time, Davina enjoys spending time with her 15-year-old daughter Meah. She just recently started volunteering for Meals on Wheels.
  CILS Program Highlights 
CILS and the Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians completed three one-day trainings for tribes with little or no economic development on their lands. The training focused on how to form a tribal economic development entity.

CILS gave a P.L. 280 presentation at Cal Western School of Law to the Cultural and Criminal Justice Class

CILS presented at the Owens Valley Career Development Center to a Native American class on "Tribal Law/Policy/History."

CILS presented on American Indian Probate Reform Act at Big Valley Rancheria.

CILS participated in the Cal Western School of Law "Pro Bono & Public Service Fair".

  Free Walk-in Legal Clinics at Indian Health Councils in San Diego County
CILS offers two free walk-in legal clinics from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm on the second Wednesday of each month at Indian Health Council on the Rincon Indian Reservation and fourth   Wednesday of each month at the Southern Indian Health Council in Alpine. These clinics are staffed by a Legal Advocate and Attorney who will assist with issues pertaining to domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and sex trafficking. Services can include helping with safety planning and crisis intervention; assistance with filling out Restraining Orders; Restraining Order Hearing preparation; and other legal consultations relating to victimization.  

The walk-in clinics operate on a first come, first served basis. There are no income guidelines for assistance. The Legal Advocate and Attorney are very experienced in these areas of law, and they will provide trauma victims with informed, confidential, and culturally appropriate services.

Good News Stories
ICWA Successes:
1.  Recently, a tribe retained CILS to represent its interests in a child dependency case where the child was an enrolled member which triggered the application of the Indian Child Welfare Act. The child was initially detained because she was a habitual runaway, who did not take her medication prescribed for a life threatening disease on the run. She was removed from both the tribal-member parent and non-tribal member parent based on allegations of failure to protect. The Tribe's social services department worked with the non-offending tribal-member parent to offer support and services which allowed the child to stabilize in the parent's care. CILS was able to effectively argue to close the case without the Court taking jurisdiction, alleviated the tribal-member parent's concern about having an open CWS case when the parent had the goal of being a foster parent in the future. The parent was very happy the petition was dismissed and the child stabilized with the Tribe's support and CILS's assistance.

2.  A tribe retained CILS to represent its interest in a guardianship where the guardians had negotiated a Cultural Agreement before finalizing the guardianship orders which requested the child visit the Tribe and participate in ceremonies and other cultural activities every year. The guardians, however, moved out of state without addressing the Cultural Agreement and how they would ensure the child would return on to participate. CILS was able to negotiate a stipulated agreement the guardians would pay for the child to return on a yearly basis and participate in a certain amount of cultural activities to ensure the child's connection to the Tribe. This past year, the guardian paid to fly the child out for the entire summer so the child could spend time with relatives and participate in cultural activities. 
Tribal Exclusion of Non-Member
During the summer of 2017, a tribe in San Diego County retained CILS to exclude a non-member from its reservation under the Tribe's Exclusion Ordinance. The individual, who lived on the Tribe's reservation, had a long history with tribal law enforcement. This time he was accused of threatening to kill a tribal member living nearby. After reviewing the applicable tribal law, collecting evidence, and conducting interviews, CILS Directing Attorney Mark Vezzola filed a motion in tribal court to exclude the individual from the reservation. Following a trial that included witness testimony from the tribal members and tribal police officers, as well as video evidence of the incident, the Court granted the motion, ensuring the safety of the tribal community.

Helping a Tribal Elder
Last year a retired tribal elder on a fixed income sought assistance from CILS to challenge a notice of proposed tax assessment from the state Franchise Tax Board (FTB.) The FTB claimed the man owed more than $3,700 in state income taxes for a distribution from an employment retirement plan received two years earlier. By documenting the client's Tribal enrollment status, residency and employment on the reservation both at the time he contributed to the plan and when he received the distribution, CILS succeeded in showing the client was entitled to a state income tax exemption. The FTB abated the tax assessment and issued the client a refund of $2,900, money he paid towards the erroneous tax bill. Suffice to say the client was very pleased with the outcome.
Administrative Assistant Position Available - Eureka Office 
Job Description:
Under the supervision of the Directing Attorney, the Administrative Assistant will be responsible for providing administrative and clerical support for the Eureka Office staff, as well as a broad range of program activities. Specific duties may vary considerably over time, but are likely to include:

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California Indian Legal Services