Articles Posted in Native American Law

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This case involved the practice of short-term deferred deposit lending, often referred to as “payday” or “cash advance” lending. After the Legislature enacted the California Deferred Deposit Transaction Law (the Law), which limits the size of each loan and the fees that lenders may charge, some deferred deposit lenders sought affiliation with federal recognized Indian tribes, which are generally immune from suit on the basis of tribal sovereign immunity. In this case, a pair of federally recognized tribes created affiliated business entities, which provide deferred deposit loans through the internet to borrowers in California under terms that allegedly violated the Law. At issue in this case was whether these tribally affiliated entities were immune from suit as “arms of the tribe.” The Supreme Court clarified the legal standard and burden of proof for establishing arm-of-the-tribe immunity and held that the entities in this case failed to show by a preponderance of the evidence that they were entitled to tribal immunity as an arm of its affiliated tribe. Remanded for the trial court to address the issue of whether the parties had the opportunity to fully litigate their claims under that standard. View "People ex rel. Owen v. Miami Nation Enterprises" on Justia Law

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This was an appeal from a child dependency proceeding involving two minors. The children were eligible for tribal membership but were not Indian children as defined in the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Rule 5.482(c) of the California Rules of Court requires a juvenile court in this scenario to “proceed as if the child is an Indian child” and to take steps “to secure tribal membership for the child.” The juvenile court in this case directed the Department of Health and Human Services to make efforts to secure tribal membership for the children. While the applications were pending, the court proceeded as if ICWA applied, held a hearing, and adjudged the children to be dependents of the court and ordered them placed with their maternal grandmother. The Court of Appeal reversed, concluding that Rule 5.482(c) conflicted with state law. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeal to the extent it held that related Rule 5.484(c)(2) was invalid and affirmed in all other respects, holding (1) Rule 5.482(c) is invalid because it conflicts with the Legislature’s intent to enforce ICWA by codifying its provisions, including the federal definition of Indian child; and (2) Rule 5.484(c)(2) is consistent with state law and valid. View "In re Abbigail A." on Justia Law

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The juvenile court removed Isaiah W., a newborn, from the care of his parents and placed him in foster care. The court found the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) inapplicable and did not order the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services to notify any tribe or the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Mother did not appeal from the order placing Isaiah in foster care. More than one year later, the juvenile court terminated Mother’s parental rights. Mother appealed from the second order, arguing that the juvenile court erred by failing to order the Department to comply with ICWA’s notice requirements. The Court of Appeal denied relief. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a parent may challenge a finding of ICWA’s inapplicability in the course of appealing from a subsequent order terminating parental rights, even if the parent did not raise such a challenge in an appeal from the initial order; and (2) in this case, the fact that Mother did not allege ICWA notice error in an appeal from the original dispositional order did not preclude her from raising the claim in this appeal. View "In re Isaiah W." on Justia Law

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The Minor in this case was the subject of several delinquency petitions. Minor was eventually placed in foster care. Minor appealed, arguing the dispositional order placing him in foster care had to be reversed because the juvenile court had failed to comply with the notice requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act (INCA). The court of appeals affirmed, holding notice was not required because federal law specifically excludes delinquency cases from ICWA, and any interpretation of California law that would expand ICWA's application to delinquencies would be invalid under federal preemption principles. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) California law requires the court to inquire about a child's Indian status at the outset of all juvenile proceedings, but ICWA's additional procedures are not required in most delinquency cases; (2) a delinquency court must ensure that notice is given and other ICWA procedures are complied with only under certain circumstances; and (3) assuming Minor was an Indian child, the juvenile court did not err in failing to give notice under ICWA in this case. View "People v. W.B." on Justia Law