E-Mail Newsletter
December - 2020 Volume 6 Number 24
What is Indian Law?
October 27, 2020: By Jedd Parr, CILS Sacramento office Directing Attorney

Indian law is rooted in two main concepts – first, that Indian tribes are sovereign entities with powers which predate the U.S. Constitution, including the inherent power to make their own laws and be governed by them, and second, that there is a political relationship between the federal government and Indian tribes which generally removes tribes from state jurisdiction.

The first concept seems obvious, as tribes have occupied North America since time immemorial. The second draws largely from the Constitution’s Indian Commerce Clause, giving Congress the sole power to regulate commerce with Indian tribes. As is true in other practice areas, case law has been the most significant factor in defining exactly how Indian law is built on these bedrock concepts. Beginning with a series of Supreme Court decisions in 1823-1832, commonly referred to as the “Marshall Trilogy” since they were principally authored by then Chief Justice John Marshall, case law has laid the foundations of Indian law – one key principle being that while Indian tribes retain certain aspects of their original sovereignty, Congress can abrogate that sovereignty unilaterally.

Domestic Violence Legal Services Fundraising
CILS was not awarded an Office on Violence Against Women (OVAW) grant this year. Without financial support from the donors and the community, our DV and SA legal advocacy program is in jeopardy of closing down.
We are in immediate need of $135,000 to sustain our DV Legal Team past December 31, 2020. We are asking for contributions to keep our program going. Any amount of assistance will help us!

While the current pandemic makes our request for donations challenging, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a spike in DV making our services all the more critical, necessary, and in demand. Please help us sustain these vital legal services as we work to find more funding resources!
Indian Allotments and Co-Ownership
Will AB 3099 Create a more Uniform and Positive Response to Criminal Activities Occurring within California Indian Country?
November 9th, 2020: By Denise Bareilles, CILS Eureka office Directing Attorney

Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 3099 into law on September 25, 2020. What will it accomplish?

Under Public Law (PL) 280, passed in 1953, the state of California was granted concurrent criminal jurisdiction in all of California's “Indian Country”[1]. What this means is that the state can enforce its criminal laws on the reservation and tribes can also enforce their own laws on their lands.[2] PL 280 can and often does create jurisdictional uncertainties, inconsistencies, and confusion on when and how state and/or tribal authorities should respond to crimes in Indian Country. AB 3099 seeks to address policing issues in Indian Country.

AB 3099 will provide technical assistance to state and local law enforcement agencies with Indian lands within or near their jurisdictions as well as to tribal governments with a tribal land base, regardless of whether the tribes have law enforcement agencies.

Furthermore, AB 3099 will address missing and murdered Native Americans in California by determining how to increase state criminal justice protective and investigative resources for reporting and identifying missing Native Americans in California, particularly women and girls.

Every Day is an Opportunity to Help Change a Life
CILS presented at Sandag’s Joint Southern California Tribal Chairmen's Association (SCTCA) and Boarder Communities Committee on state cultural resource laws and consultation.
 
CILS participated in a special Working Group on the US Supreme Court's McGirt decision with a focus on extending PL 280 to Oklahoma. The Working Group is part of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development and the University of Oklahoma’s Native Nations Center. 
 
CILS is working for California Tribal Families Coalition (CTFC) on researching and collecting community comments for a comprehensive report focued on three ICWA related topics: Criminal Background Checks, Tribal Customary Adoptions in dependency cases, and Child Family Team meetings. 
 
CILS continues to work with tribes on CARES Act expenditures by providing Treasury Guidance on allowable use of their funding. 
 
CILS’ DV Staff Attorney and Advocate participated in Southern Indian Health Council’s virtual Wellness Conference in September 2020 and gave a Power Point presentation along with a video of our DV services. 
Pro Bono Attorneys for DV Cases
Escondido Directing Attorney Mark Vezzola participated on a panel titled “The POWER Act: Promoting Pro Bono Legal Services to Empower Native American Survivors of Domestic Violence” on September 17, 2020, which was sponsored by the Federal District Court in Riverside County. There has been an outpour of private attorneys who attended that want to volunteer to do pro bono representation of DV victims in tribal court.  

Estate Planning Presentation and Execution of Wills
Escondido Staff Attorney Mica Llerandi gave several estate planning presentations to Pechanga Members as part of their annual “Life Planning Course.” Escondido Directing Attorney Mark Vezzola supervised six ASU Law students as part of the two day will clinic that followed and prepared estate planning documents (powers of attorney, wills, and healthcare directives) for 13 members.

Criminal Convictions Expunged
Eureka Advocate Laura Svoboda successfully expunged several criminal convictions through the State Court, allowing our client to keep her job. We were also successful in petitioning the Court to eliminate the remainder of fines owed to the Court (the client had paid $4,158, and the Court eliminated the remainder, $5447). Additionally, the client had several arrests that did not result in the District Attorney filing criminal charges. However, they still appeared on her RAP sheet (and she was asked to explain them by her tribal employer). We have petitioned the Humboldt County Sheriff to seal and destroy these records.

Preventing Eviction Cases
Bishop Staff Attorney Mike Godbe is addressing the affordable housing shortage in the Eastern Sierra and preventing numerous eviction cases under state and federal eviction moratorium protections. 
Mono Lake Indian Community
House of Representative Paul Cook from District introduced a bill seeking federal recognition of the Tribe. The bill has been transferred to the House Natural Resource Committee.

DV Pro Bono Lawyers in Tribal Courts
Eureka Directing Attorney Denise Bareilles is working on a Continuing Education (CE) program with two local tribes, Northern California Legal Services and Federal District Court for Northern District, which involves private attorneys interested in providing pro bono representation to victims of domestic violence in Tribal Courts in northern California where the Court has an active Domestic Violence calendars. The CE program will train private attorneys on representing tribal members in Tribal Court. Included in the program will be training on Civil Protection Orders, jurisdiction, and the two participating tribes’ plans for exercising tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians committing DV on their reservations.  

Creating Tribal Court Bar Exam
The Eureka Office is working with a local Tribe in developing its Court and is finalizing a bar exam for the Court. The project involved collecting historical tribal information. We uncovered old pleadings in our CILS database from the Tillie Hardwick case, which we were able to include in the bar exam. This documentation provided a valuable historical section on the bar exam and will be part of the Tribe’s archive.    
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California Indian Legal Services