Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Indians don't need to receive full Due Process Says Judge

Who needs due process? What is this judge thinking?

Here's a story from AIRRO's President:

Judge rules Indian Housing Agency does not have to provide full due process in eviction of disenrolled Indian

Valley Center, CA- The judge for the Intertribal Court of Southern California granted a request by the All Mission Indian Housing Authority (AMIHA), a tribal housing consortium in Southern California, to evict a disenrolled member of the Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians from here home on the Santa Rosa Indian Reservation.

The AMIHA instituted the eviction of the disenrolled member based on a January 9, 2008 request by the Santa Rosa Tribal Council seeking action against the disenrolled member and other occupants of her home. Based on an investigation by the AMIHA, the disenrolled member was served with a Notice of Termination on January 23, 2008. Subsequently, the AMIHA instituted an eviction proceeding against the disenrolled member.

In the Answer to the AMIHA's Complaint for Eviction, the disenrolled member denied the grounds listed for eviction and further claimed that the AMIHA violated the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 and the Mutual Help and Occupancy Agreement (MHOA) which governs the lease agreement between herself and AMIHA. The Answer specifically pointed to procedural requirements contained in the MHOA which a housing authority must comply with before issuing a notice of termination. The procedural requirements at issue specifically protect lessees from arbitrary and unjust termination actions by requiring Indian housing authorities to follow certain steps prior to issuing a notice of eviction.

In spite of the AMIHA's failure to comply with the stated procedural requirements and case law from other tribal courts which state that a housing authority must comply with the procedural requirements set forth in the MHOA, the judge stated that it was not necessary for the AMIHA to provide due process and equal protection under all aspects of the MHOA as long as they did so after the termination.

The ruling and the judge's reasoning could have far reaching affects on all AMIHA lessees and other HUD program beneficiaries as it clears the way for tribal housing agencies to violate specific procedural requirements, without fear of legal consequences, meant to protect lessees from arbitrary termination actions.

Stay tuned for more on this story...
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