Adams v Elfo et al

Filing 74

ORDER. Petitioner's objections to the R&R (Dkt. No. 70 ) are OVERRULED. The Court ADOPTS the Judge Peterson's third R&R (Dkt. No. 69 ) and DENIES Petitioner's motion for reconsideration (Dkt. No. 56 ). Signed by U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour. (PM)

Download PDF
THE HONORABLE JOHN C. COUGHENOUR 1 2 3 4 5 6 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT SEATTLE 7 8 9 ELILE ADAMS, 10 11 12 v. CASE NO. C19-1263-JCC Petitioner, ORDER BILL ELFO, et al., 13 Respondents. 14 15 This matter comes before the Court on Petitioner Elile Adams’ objections (Dkt. No. 70) 16 to the third Report and Recommendation (R&R) of the Honorable Michelle Peterson, United 17 States Magistrate Judge (Dkt. No. 69). Having thoroughly considered the parties’ briefing and 18 the relevant record, the Court finds oral argument unnecessary and hereby OVERRULES 19 Petitioner’s objections and ADOPTS the R&R for the reasons explained herein. 20 The Court described the facts of this case in prior orders, (see Dkt. Nos. 43, 54), and will 21 not repeat them here, except as relevant to the instant R&R and related objections. Following 22 Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration (Dkt. No. 56), the Court referred the matter to Judge 23 Peterson to consider the following issue: “whether the fact that Public Law 280 predates federal 24 recognition of the Nooksack Tribe impacts [Judge Peterson’s] determination that the Nooksack 25 Tribal Court did not plainly lack jurisdiction over the Suchanon allotment at the time of 26 [Petitioner’s] arrest.” (Dkt. No. 62 at 2.) Following supplemental briefing, Judge Peterson issued ORDER C19-1263-JCC PAGE - 1 1 a third R&R (Dkt. No. 69). In it she concluded that, even if Public Law 280 predated federal 2 recognition of the Nooksack Tribe, the Tribal Court did not plainly lack jurisdiction over the 3 Suchanon allotment at the time of Petitioner’s arrest. (See id. at 10–11.) Petitioner again objects 4 to Judge Peterson’s recommendation. (Dkt. No. 70.) 5 A district court reviews de novo those portions of a report and recommendation to which 6 a party objects. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3). Objections are required to 7 enable the district court to “focus attention on those issues—factual and legal—that are at the 8 heart of the parties’ dispute.” Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 147 (1985). General objections, or 9 summaries of arguments previously presented, have the same effect as no objection at all, since 10 the Court’s attention is not focused on any specific issues for review. See United States v. 11 Midgette, 478 F.3d 616, 622 (4th Cir. 2007). “The district judge may accept, reject, or modify 12 the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate 13 judge with instructions.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3). 14 Petitioner lodged a number of general objections to Judge Peterson’s third R&R, which 15 the Court need not address. See Ali v. Grounds, 236 F. Supp. 3d 1241, 1249 (S.D. Cal. 2017) 16 (citing Goney v. Clark, 749 F.2d 5, 7 (3d Cir. 1984)). At issue is Petitioner’s specific objection 17 that Judge Peterson erred in failing to consider that Congress’s 1970 amendment to Public Law 18 280 granted state governments “exclusive jurisdiction” over Indian crimes on enumerated Indian 19 lands. (Dkt. No. 70 at 4 (citing 18 U.S.C. § 1162(c).) Petitioner is correct that Washington does 20 have jurisdiction over the Suchanon allotment. See State v. Cooper, 928 P.2d 406 (Wash. 1996). 21 But the notion that this jurisdiction is exclusive of the Nooksack Tribal Court’s is not supported 22 by the legislative history of Public Law 280 or courts’ interpretations of the statute. 23 The legislative history of Public Law 280 indicates that its purpose was a jurisdictional 24 transfer between the state and federal government, not between the state and tribal governments, 25 and it was done to supplement tribal authority, not divest it. See, e.g., S.Rep. No. 699, 83d Cong., 26 1st Sess., reprinted in 1953 U.S. Code Cong. & Admin. News 2409, 2412 (“[T]here has been ORDER C19-1263-JCC PAGE - 2 1 created a hiatus in law-enforcement authority that could best be remedied by conferring criminal 2 jurisdiction on States indicating an ability and willingness to accept such responsibility.”) As the 3 Assistant Secretary of the Interior stated to Congress in 1970, “[the] new language . . . [was] not 4 intended . . . to have any bearing on actual or potential arrangements between States and the 5 tribes which [sic] respect to the allocation of law enforcement responsibility between them . . . 6 [and] no effect on whatever inherent jurisdiction particular tribes may have retained in states 7 which were given or have assumed jurisdiction pursuant to . . . [Public Law 280] as amended.” 8 116 H. Cong. Rec. 37,354 (1970) (emphasis added). 9 Similarly, the Supreme Court has consistently emphasized that Public Law 280 is not a 10 divesture statute. See Bryan v. Itasca County, 426 U.S. 373, 383–390 (1976); California v. 11 Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, 480 U.S. 202, 222 (1987). In addition, the Ninth and Eigth 12 Circuits have held that Public Law 280 establishes concurrent jurisdiction between tribes and 13 states. Native Village of Venetie I.R.A. Council v. State of Alaska, 944 F.2d 548 (9th Cir. 1991) 14 (“Public Law 280 was designed not to supplant tribal institutions but to supplement them.”); 15 Walker v. Rushing 898 F.2d 672, 675 (8th Cir. 1990) (“Public Law 280 did not divest Indian 16 tribes of their sovereign power to punish their own members for violations of tribal law. Nothing 17 in the wording of Public Law 280 or its legislative history precludes concurrent tribal 18 authority.”). This view has also been professed by the Washington State Supreme Court, which 19 indicated that “both the state and tribe may have jurisdiction in any given criminal case, and 20 prosecution by one does not bar the other from also charging an offender with a crime arising out 21 of the same conduct.” State v. Shale, 345 P.3d 776 (Wash. 2015) (citing State v. Moses, 37 P.3d 22 1216 (Wash. 2002)). 23 Accordingly, Judge Peterson did not err in concluding that the Nooksack Tribal Court did 24 not plainly lack jurisdiction over the Suchanon allotment, irrespective of whether federal tribal 25 recognition predated Public Law 280. This is because Public Law 280 has no impact on the 26 ORDER C19-1263-JCC PAGE - 3 1 Tribe’s authority over the allotment, regardless of the “exclusive” language presently contained 2 in the statute. 3 For the foregoing reasons, Petitioner’s objections to the R&R (Dkt. No. 70) are 4 OVERRULED. The Court ADOPTS the Judge Peterson’s third R&R (Dkt. No. 69) and DENIES 5 Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration (Dkt. No. 56). 6 7 DATED this 3rd day of June 2021. A 8 9 10 John C. Coughenour UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 ORDER C19-1263-JCC PAGE - 4

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?