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March 2020                                                              Volume 6, Number 21
Criminal Background Checks and Job Searches 
Scaramento, CA - February 18, 2020:  Communities of color experience disproportionate contact with the law. (Read: racial profiling.) This excessive law enforcement contact results in a similarly disproportionate number of criminal records in the form of arrests, custodial detentions, and convictions. Employers use these records to deny people of color jobs. This means criminal records are used to deny a disproportionate number of Native people jobs. Any Native person can attest to this collective experience in the job market. Today, however, criminal records should not deter anybody from applying for a job in California.

Social science research makes it abundantly clear that criminal records present a considerable barrier to gainful employment. Criminal records provide easily accessible but arbitrary screening mechanisms for employers when they are evaluating potential hires. More often than not, disclosure of a criminal record prompts the prospective employer to disqualify a job applicant automatically and to discard an employment application altogether.

a screening mechanism, criminal records artificially limit individual job prospects and earnings potential but are often justified on the assumption these records predict future job performance. Criminal records are not reliable predictors of future job performance. An extensive study of United States military hiring practices shows that there are no measurable differences in attrition rates based upon poor work performance between military enlistees with and without criminal records.

Hemp Update for California Tribes
Escondido, CA - February 4, 2020:  Until recently, hemp was considered a Schedule I controlled substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Also included under the Schedule I list of controlled substances is heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and you guessed it... peyote. Even methamphetamine is a lower level Schedule II substance. To this day, marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance, and it wasn't until recently that hemp was clearly defined and taken out of that same category.

(Maja Dumat, Flickr/Creative Commons)
If you aren't familiar with the term "hemp," it is technically non-psychoactive cannabis. "Non-psychoactive," meaning cannabis with a less than .3% tetrahydrocannabinol (more commonly known as THC), concentration. Prior to the removal hemp from Schedule I, done under the 2018 Farm Bill, which requires promulgation of both state and federal regulations, hemp continued to live in a legal gray zone as federal and state law in California were conflicting.

Brackeen v. Bernhardt Case Update

Oral argument was held on January 29,2020 before the 5th Circuit Court en banc (sixteen judges heard the case). From the summary of the argument from those in attendance it appears that only about 5 or 6 judges asked questions and dealt with both parties even-handedly. The arguments addressed: (1) the standing of the plaintiffs who are individual adoptive parents; (2) is being "Native American" a racial or political classification; (3) is Congress overstepping its authority by legislating in an area that is reserved to the states i.e. Family Law; and (4) is Congress violating the "Presentment Clause" by allowing tribes to write or rewrtie federal law (using tribal placement preferences) without congressional approval and the President's signature. A decision is not likely for months.

  CILS Program Highlights 

On February 10th CILS provided a law enforcement  training to to the Bear River Public Safety Officers on the Bear River Reservation.

CILS presented on financial scams targeted at elders on February 28th at the Cahuilla Band of Mission  Indians.

Good News Stories
Guardianship Moved to California
CILS' Sacramento office was successful in having a court: (1) terminate guardianship of a tribal child that wasn't working; (2) order that dependency jurisdiction be resumed; and (3) that the child be returned to California. The child had been placed in a guardianship in North Dakota, and things went badly for both the child and the guardians due to lack of and access to services for the child's special needs and issues. California had been unwilling to help - basically saying that it was North Dakota's and the guardians' problem now. But they changed their position after CILS filed the Request for Change in Order.

Tribal Court Enforcement
Our Eureka office is assisting a tribe's Tribal Court and Public Safety Department by working with them to develop their civil citation process on the reservation. The Public Safety Department is currently citing individuals on the reservation and bringing civil enforcement actions against those individuals in the Tribal Court. There have 
been some tensions between the Tribal Public Saftey officers and the local Sheriff with regards to tribal authority on certain lands within the reservation. CILS is working with both the tribe and the county to develop an agreeable protocol.

Termination of Parental Rights
CILS' Eureka Office is working on a termination of parental rights (TPR) case in the Family Law Court. CILS successfully advocated that the ICWA applies in the Family Law Court, not just dependency proceedings. We are arguing that the petitioner does not meet the basic requirements of the ICWA in the TPR case and that it is not culturally appropriate to terminate the rights of the child to the parent and his/her extended tribal family members. Tribal culture provides that the paternal grandparents step up to support and maintain their relationship with the child and continue to connect him/her to the extended family and their Tribe. A contested hearing will be coming up in the next few months.

We encourage you to think about CILS while you are shopping on Amazon. Give us a big smile because you are making a difference for California Indians that need low cost or free legal services. With your donation through Amazon we can continue to provide legal services to California Indians.

California Indian Legal Services