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September 2017                                                                          Volume 3, Number 11
CILS Completes Renovation of Escondido Office Building
Escondido, CA - September 10, 2017: CILS completed renovation of the Escondido office building in August. The exterior of the building was renovated with the goal of providing a welcoming and comfortable space.

The Escondido office is centrally located near several Indian reservations and provides legal assistance to individuals and tribes in Southern California. CILS purchased the building in 1998 to ensure legal services would be available for decades to come. This is the first time the Escondido office has been updated.

When starting the project, using Native-owned businesses was important to CILS, and CILS turned to California Indian Chamber of Commerce's Tracy Stanhoff and Cheri Myron for help. The renovation was completed by GC Green Incorporated, an Indian- woman- and veteran-owned company. The project spanned eight months and cost $118,000 including painting, updated safety features, landscaping, lighting, new entry doors, and signage.

Elizabeth Perez, President of GC Green Incorporated, stated, "We were excited to assist CILS in their extensive plans to upgrade their building. Being an Indian-owned construction company allowed us to understand their vision of a native environment. They were insistent about using Indian vendors, and so were we."

Photos of the front of the Escondido office building. Small photo is before and the large photo is after. Fresh paint, updated safety features, landscaping, LED lighting, new entry doors, and signage were all part of the renovation project. 

Anna Hohag Starts Fellowship in Bishop Office

"I am a citizen of the Bishop Paiute Tribe and from the Payahuunadu (Owens Valley). I am grateful and excited for the opportunity to work as a CILS fellow. I know CILS will provide me with a broad variety of cases which will help me develop the skills needed as a future attorney advocating for tribal rights. Finally, I hope to give back to my community and serve as a role model to local Native youth while I'm a CILS fellow," said Anna Hohag about her fellowship.
August 28, 2017: Anna Hohag will start a one-year Legal Fellowship in September at our CILS Bishop office. The California Bar Foundation awarded CILS a Public Interest Legal Fellowship Grant which made it possible for Anna to join the CILS team. Anna will focus on Tribal Court development which includes providing training for tribes in the local area on how to establish a  Justice System. She will also help provide legal education, consultation, and advocacy to tribes and Native American individuals, work to protect tribal sovereignty and the rights of tribes, and the civil rights of Native American individuals. 

Anna Hohag is a recent Arizona law school graduate and a member of the Bishop Paiute Tribe. We are honored to have her joining our Bishop office.

American Indian Probate Reform Act (AIPRA) and Indian Wills

For years CILS has prioritized the preservation and enhancement of the 
California Indian land base in California. 
Part of this work correlates with assisting individuals that have an Indian allotment or an interest in an allotment to better understand their rights and sometimes their responsibilities to future generations. As part of this work, CILS has conducted numerous presentations over the years regarding the impact of the AIPRA and the need for executing an Indian Wills or estate planning of Indian trust assets.   

Update on AB 233: the Feather Bill
September 9, 2017: Assembly Bill 233 passed the Senate by a unanimous vote of 40-0, then passed the Assembly on concurrence on a 52-0 vote. The bill was sent to the Governor for signing.

 AB233 will protect the right to wear religious, ceremonial, or cultural adornments at graduation ceremonies.

 Staff Attorney Position Available - Sacramento Office 
Job Description:
Supervised by the Directing Attorney, the Staff Attorney will work collaboratively with other staff to provide exceptional legal services in all areas of federal Indian law.  Our fast-paced office provides legal services on issues of jurisdiction, tax, estate planning, trust assets, environmental law, natural resource development, tribal governance, employment and the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).  The Staff Attorney will assume a varied case load that may include: brief counsel and services to low-income Indian individuals; state and federal court litigation; contract negotiation; advising tribal clients; developing and implementing constitutions, codes, and policies for tribal clients; making presentations; and ICWA- related dependency cases.
 Ninth Circuit Allows Bishop Paiute Law Enforcement Case to Proceed 
July 19, 2017: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals  handed a victory to the Bishop Paiute Tribe in its federal suit against Inyo County, the County Sheriff, and District Attorney.  The lower district court dismissed the Tribe's suit against the defendants on July 13, 2015, for lack of jurisdiction, finding there was no "justiciable case and controversy." 

The Tribe appealed the lower court's dismissal, and on July 19, 2017 the 9th Circuit reversed and remanded the case to lower court allowing the Tribe to move forward on the merits. Please see the decision for a complete summary of the facts and procedural history of the Tribe's suit leading up to appeal.
Good News Stories
Mother Gets Custody
On August 10, 2017,  at Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta the Court terminated dependency jurisdiction over six children with the mother getting full legal and physical custody. It was a tough case; the mother struggled with substance abuse which led to removal. We intervened in 2015 on behalf of the Bishop Paiute Tribe. 
There were lots of bumps in the road along the way. A number of relatives were considered but ultimately denied for placement due to criminal histories or live in relatives with a criminal record. To its credit the County made active efforts throughout the life of the case. The Tribe also supported her. Despite one relapse early on the mother completed a parenting course, attended AA meetings, found a sponsor and formed a support network. After a stint in rehab, where the children slowly transitioned back to her care, she found an apartment and a job and remains clean today. The judge commended her efforts from the bench.

Family Placement for Child
This summer CILS successfully obtained a transfer to tribal court for a child who had been in the foster care system for more than six years, cycling through numerous placements.  The Tribe was located in Alaska and had identified a highly-qualified extended family placement.  A transfer to tribal court was the fastest way to put that placement into effect.  The other parties showed significant resistance to the transfer at first, but in the end we were able to get the court to order it, and the Tribe reports that the child is doing extremely well in his new home.  We are told that if we ever make it up to Alaska, we have a travel guide waiting. 
Expungement for Trespass
This Spring CILS worked  with a client who is a career home health aide. Under assignment with home health care agencies she cares for elders, infirm and disabled patients. Her work allows them to stay in their homes. In early 2015, our client participated in peaceful protest and as a result was charged with misdemeanor trespass. Our client pleaded guilty, paid a fine and completed a twelve month probationary sentence. In July 2016, she expunged her misdemeanor trespass conviction.
Later that year, her application to the home health aide registry was denied because of her 2015 conviction. The Home Care Services Bureau of the California Department of Social Services determined she needed a criminal records exemption to qualify for listing with the registry but denied her exemption request because not enough time had elapsed since her 2015 plea. 
The Department determined that she needed more time to establish sufficient rehabilitation. The exemption denial forced her to quit work immediately and prevented her from getting any other job with a licensed agency. CILS challenged the Department's action through the State's Administrative hearing process and were able to obtain a three year conditional exemption for her that becomes permanent at the end of the three-years. She can return to work for a licensed agency immediately.
Our client is income eligible for our services even when employed. Many people rely on home health care services work to support their families. CILS provides more than legal services for our community members.

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