E-Mail Newsletter
December - 2019 Volume 5 Number 20
CILS Hires Two New Attorneys
Debra Avenmarg joins CILS as a Staff Attorney in the Eureka office. Debra will assist the tribes, Indian organizations, and native populations in Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino, Siskiyou, and Trinity.

Debra received her J.D. from Golden Gate University School of Law in 2010 and received a B.S. in Business and B.A. in Economics from Humboldt State University in 2005.

Alexis Lindquist joins CILS as a Staff Attorney in the Escondido office. Alexis will assist the tribes, Indian organizations, and native populations in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties.

“Through my clerkship with CILS, I learned the importance of providing legal aid services to low-income Native Americans,” Alexis said. “The services that CILS offers to these individuals give a sense of support to Native Americans when they don’t know where to start in their legal journey.”


As you may know, the plaintiffs in the  Brackeen et al. v. David Bernhardt et al.  case are challenging the constitutionality of the ICWA. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a majority decision on August 9, 2019, reversing the lower court’s decision that had ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and struck down the ICWA as unconstitutional. Unfortunately, this was not the end of the case.


CILS Board and Staff Retreat
California Indian Legal Services held our Board and Staff Retreat at the new Sycuan Casino Resort on December 6th and 7th. It was a fantastic weekend of strategic planning for CILS with the Board and Staff. Looking at what the next five years of federal Indian law will bring and reflecting on all the excellent work that has been done. Sycuan Casino Resort generously hosted it in their beautiful new facility. Tribal support is essential to CILS and contributes to our success. Thank you, Sycuan!

Pictured from left to right are our Principle Office Staff and Board Members: Executive Director Dorothy Alther, Board Member Joe Ayala, Board Member Merri Lopez-Keifer, Board Member Sheila Quinlan, Board Chairman Mark Romero, Board Member Robert Gonzalez, Board Member Gabe Cayton, Board Member Victorio Shaw, Director of Administration Patricia De La Cruz-Lynas, and Director of Marketing and Development Nicole Scott.
CILS gave a "Life Planning" workshop at the Pechanga Tribal Hall on September 12th.

CILS presented at the Santa Ynez Tribal Hall to their elders on "Estate Planning" on September 19th.

CILS supervised a Will Clinic at Pechanga on September 23rd - 25th. 

CILS gave a Sex Trafficking and Social Media Exploitation of Minors and Adults presentation at Cahuilla Tribal Hall.

"CILS and Fee for Service Model" was presented at the 16th Annual Indigenous Law Conference in Lansing, Michigan, on October 11th.

CILS was an exhibitor at the Los Angeles Indigenous People's Day Pow Wow on October 13th.

CILS presentation on "Issues in California Indian Country" of the Southern California Tribal Chairmen's Association in Las Vegas on October 22.

CILS tabled at Sherman Indian High School Career Day in Riverside on October 25th. 

On November 12th CILS presented to the Juvenile Court attorneys in San Diego on 2019 ICWA updates. 

CILS participated in an ICWA panel at the Native Truth & Healing: California Genocide Conference 2019 at San Diego State University on November 24th. 

CILS gave two trainings on Tribal Customary Adoption and Public Law 280 on November 25th at the Pit River Tribal Office. 

On December 5th CILS presented "Senior Scams" at Pechanga Tribal Hall.
Franchise Tax Board Reversal
Our Escondido office worked with a Quechan elder who lives and works on the Quechan reservation. Franchise Tax Board (FTB) assessed $2,900 against her for taxes owed from 2012-2016. CILS wrote a letter on her behalf and submitted documents to FTB back in July. On November 18, 2019, she faxed us a copy of a Lien Release Notice from the FTB. After checking her FTB account, we found that all of her tax liabilities for 2012-2016 had been zeroed out. 

Dependency Case Transferred to Tribal Court
Our Sacramento office was successful in having a highly contested dependency case transferred from Fresno County state court to Tribal Court. One of the de facto parents was an appellate attorney in the Fifth District and was raising the same arguments that the ICWA was unconstitutional as those raised in Brackeen. The county and the de facto parents were opposing the transfer, and comments from the judge showed that he was not particularly well-
disposed towards the Tribe's position either. However, to the judge's credit, he treated the Tribe's request for the transfer fairly. There was only one child involved. The transfer to Tribal Court was to avoid adoption, which was achieved.

Overview of Federal Indian and Elimination of Bias in Tribal Court
Educated San Diego City Attorneys on the basics of federal Indian law in recognition of Native American Heritage Month. The presentation covered the early treatment of Indian nations as sovereign governments, their inclusion in the U.S. Constitution, early Supreme Court case law, and the drastic shifts in federal Indian policy that followed over the next two centuries. The program concluded with a brief discussion of how tribal courts deal with non-Indians appearing before them and best practices for dealing with such situations.
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