Thursday, December 24, 2009

U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals REJECTS Lawsuit against The Pechanga Band on 2-1 vote

The Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, well known for terminating 25% of their tribe, violating civil rights of their people and using the threat of more disenrollments to control the vote of their people, have won another round in court.

Pechanga has terminated the Hunter Family, a portion of the Apis descendents and are keeping hundreds of others from their rightful enrollment of the tribe. Disenrolled members lose shares in casino profits as well as access to paid health care, life insurance and other benefits.

At the time of their 2006 dismissal from the tribe, every adult Pechanga member received a per capita benefit of more than $250,000 per year, court papers noted. The remaining tribal members now make $360,000 per year, after stripping the last family of their membership. The tribe claims it's "not about the money".

The group did not directly challenge the decision by the tribe's enrollment committee, which was upheld by the Tribal Council.

Instead, they contend their disenrollment was "tantamount to an unlawful detention," under the Indian Civil Rights Act. Habeas corpus.

In a rare move, the dissenting opinion was published

Judge Claudia Wilken dissented. She said she did not believe invocation of the Indian Civil Rights Act before a federal court was limited to criminal procedures.

"The act of stripping Appellants' Tribal citizenship and the current and potential restrictions placed upon Appellants constitute a severe restraint on their liberty," the judge wrote. "... Appellants have been detained."

The group can seek to have Tuesday's decision re-heard by a larger group of 9th Circuit judges. They can ultimately appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The majority of the three-judge panel disagreed and upheld a lower court's dismissal of the lawsuit.


t'eetilawuncha! said...

Very close opinions, and yes the dissenting opinion is open record. Maybe the appeal will bring up the dissenting reasoning, and ring new light on this wicked problem.

Merry Christmas to all :)

Anonymous said...

All the more reason to keep sharing the story with more people.

And the court only ruled on the habeas corpus action. There is still reason for optimism.

They never said Pechanga was right in their action.

'aamokat said...

Well, I am sure Pechanga will keep parroting the line that the courts have spoken but we are not done yet by any stretch of the imagination.

Things like this Hunter lawsuit, while a set back with the appeals court decision, and also Joe Liska's suit(s) are chipping away at the stone and creating cracks in its foundation.

Merry Christmas everyone and a bold prediction from me?

That by next Christmas, maybe sooner, there will be major breakthroughs and quite possibly total justice for all of us.

You are right anonymous, no court has ever said Pechanga is in the right and I also agree that the opposing opinion is huge and is something we can build on.

I don't get how the majority opinion can say the Indian Civil Rights Act is limited to criminal proceedings and not civil as can't people's rights be violated in a civil case?

Anonymous said...

Maybe a look into the background of the two judges in the majority is beneficial?

Anonymous said...

A look into the background of the two enrollment committee persons is alarmming, to say the least.

Allen L. Lee said...

The very title of the act Indian "CIVIL" Rights Act, should bear some weight in the courts determination that it is not merely reserved for criminal complaints.

Anonymous said...

Or the fact that the UNCONSTITUTIONAL disenrollment was criminal in itself.

Or the conspiracy between the CPP and the council?

Anonymous said...

I was gambling at Pala and a tribal member from Pechnaga was at the same table and someone asked him if it was true that they get $30,ooo a month and he said that they have taken a big drop per 8 or 9 thousand...any truth to this?..that the biz is way bad at Pechnaga...

Anonymous said...

why no answer about per capita?...if the general population really knew the amount the give themselves...there would be hell to pay...but there doesnt seem to be a true figure that they get??..the above poster says they took a big hit..your site says they get 30,000 a month..which is the truth? would help if the truth is out on what they really it a big secret???

'aamokat said...

Well officially it is supposed to be a secret as when we were tribal members we were told over and over again not to tell anyone outside of the tribe how much we were getting.

But word does leak out as there is always someone who likes to brag about how much he is getting.

Personally I don't know how they are getting now.

Anonymous said...

I have a question. Why is each family fighting their own fight? Would it not be more beneficial to fight as one?