Scott Wheat joined Crowell Law Office – Tribal Advocacy Group as an associate in 2007. Prior to Joining Crowell Law Offices, Scott served as in-house counsel for the Office of the Suquamish Tribal Attorney (1996-2002) and for the Office of the Spokane Tribal Attorney (2005-2007). Scott, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, has worked in Indian Country throughout his legal career. In addition to serving as in house counsel for tribes, Scott has served as a tribal court prosecutor, a tribal court public defender, a tribal court judge, a tribal court appellate justice, and an adjunct professor of Indian law and policy at Eastern Washington University. Scott has a broad range of experience that varies from overseeing the varied, day to day legal needs of tribes as in house counsel, to extensive experience representing tribes in complex government to government negotiations, to representing tribes in complex litigation involving gaming, treaty fishing rights, natural resource protection, land use, taxation, federal recognition, and PL 638 contract disputes.
Since joining Crowell Law Office – Tribal Advocacy Group, Scott has assisted in negotiating Class III Gaming Compacts and Compact Amendments for clients in three western states. He has played a key litigation support role in Rincon v. Schwarzenegger, Duwamish v. United States, MM&A v. Yavapai Apache Nation, and United States v. Texas (Kickapoo).
Scott Wheat graduated from Seattle University School of Law, magna cum laude, in 1995. Scott is admitted to the Bar of the State of Washington, the United States District Court for the Eastern and Western Washington Districts, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and several Tribal Courts in the Pacific Northwest.
Scott attended Seattle University School of law from 1992 to 1995 where he earned his Juris Doctorate, magna cum laude, graduating in the top 3% of his class. At the invitation of the Dean, Scott served a member of the Law School’s Inn of Court. Scott served a judicial externship with the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division II, in Tacoma, Washington. Scott also performed an externship in which he served as a public defender for the Nisqually and Squaxin Island tribal courts during his third year of law school.
Scott completed his undergraduate education at The Evergreen State College, which consistently receives top ratings for its undergraduate liberal arts program. Scott graduated with a liberal arts degree, with an emphasis on political science, history, and economics.
Scott Wheat – BACKGROUND/EXPERIENCE
• After law school, Scott went to work as a tribal court prosecutor for the Northwest Intertribal Court System (NICS), a circuit court system serving several Pacific Northwest Tribes. During his tenure with NICS, Scott became familiar with, and continues to maintain bar membership for, several tribal courts in the Puget Sound region of Washington State.
• In January 1996, Scott accepted a position as the tribal prosecutor for the Suquamish Indian Tribe. Washington is a partial Public Law 280 state, and there remains substantial non-Indian owned fee lands within the Tribe’s Reservation, creating a jurisdictional crazy quilt. During his one and one half year tenure as the Tribe’s prosecutor, Scott was consistently confronted with complex jurisdictional issues that so frequently arise in Indian country.
• In 1997, Scott transferred from the Tribal Prosecutor’s Office, to the Office of the Suquamish Tribal Attorney. As a staff attorney, Scott advised the Suquamish Tribal Council on the broad range of legal issues that tribal governments typically confront, such as personnel matters, tribal code revisions, grant and PL 638 contract compliance issues, and land leases. While working for the Suquamish Tribe, Scott gained invaluable litigation experience in the areas of environmental law, land use law, tribal jurisdictional disputes, and treaty fishing rights.
From 1999-2001, with the permission of the Suquamish Tribe, Scott served as an Appellate Justice for the Puyallup Tribal Court of Appeals and a Judge Pro Temp for the Puyallup Tribal Court. Scott Served on several appellate panels during his tenure with the court, typically in matters involving complex litigation.
In 2005, Scott joined the Office of the Spokane Tribal Attorney, where he provided a broad range of legal advice to the Tribal Business Council. During his tenure with the Spokane Tribe, Scott became increasingly involved in complex tribal gaming matters, including Class III Compact negotiations, compliance matters involving the National Indian Gaming Commission, Johnson Act proceedings, and successfully defending the Spokane Tribal Gaming Commission against a $30.6 million dollar lawsuit filed in Spokane Tribal Court. Scott also served as lead litigation counsel for the Tribe in fuel tax litigation between the Tribe and the State of Washington, which resulted in a consent decree in which the Tribe receives 75% of all fuel tax revenues for all fuel sold at tribal fuel stations.
Since joining Crowell Law Offices in 2007, Scott has assisted in negotiating Class III Gaming Compacts and Compact Amendments for clients in three western states. Scott has also provided key litigation support role in Rincon v. Schwarzenegger, Duwamish v. United States, MM&A v. Yavapai Apache Nation, and United States v. Texas (Kickapoo).