Notable Cases

Crowell Law Office – Tribal Advocacy Group has been involved in many noteworthy cases

Some of the most noteworthy where we were instrumental in effectuating change for our clients are:

Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians v. Schwarzenegger

• Several major decisions have been issued in this case.

• Most notably, In April, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals affirmed the 2008 decision of the District Court, which found that the Governor negotiated in bad faith for demanding an illegal tax in exchange for expanding the number of machines in negotiations to amend the Tribe’s Compact.

• In August, 2008, the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court ruled that the State could not avoid judicial resolution of the number of gaming devices licenses available in the state-wide pool under the provisions of the compacts entered into by sixty-two tribes and the State of California.

• In March, 2010, the District Court ruled that an additional 23,801  gaming device licenses over and above the number alleged by the State.

• In June, 2012, the Court –Appointed Mediator, former State Supreme Court Justice, Edward A. Panelli selected the Tribe’s “last-best-offer” of a Tribal-State Compact without state revenue sharing.

The Spokane Tribe of Indians v. United States in which the Tribe successfully argued that enforcement action by federal authorities may not be taken against Indian tribes operating  Class 3 gaming in the absence of a tribal/state compact when the state fails to abide by IGRA’s good-faith negotiation/mediation process and is the reason the Tribe lacks a tribal/state compact.

Pueblo of Pojoaque v. New Mexico, in which the Tribe successfully obtained an injunction against the members of the New Mexico Gaming Control Board from threatening or taking any action against the licenses of vendors doing business with the Pueblo’s gaming operations over the objection of the State.

Colorado River Indian Tribes v. National Indian Gaming Commission. The United States Appeals Court for the District of Columbia struck down as unlawful the regulations of the National Indian Gaming Commission imposing minimum internal controls standards, or MICS, on class III gaming operations. On behalf of a number of Tribes, we authored amicus briefs through all stages of this litigation, and co-authored the amicus brief for the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) to the Appeals Court.

Spokane Tribe of Indians v. Washington State in which the Tribe successfully argued to the 9th Circuit Appeals Court that the 11th Amendment does not constitute a bar to actions brought by tribes against states.  This opinion was later vacated in the wake of The Seminole Tribe decision of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Shoshone & Bannock Tribes  v. United States in which the Tribe successfully argued to a federal Magistrate Judge that the United States should be enjoined from pursuing enforcement action against a Tribe’s class 3 gaming when the Tribe is likely to prevail in a bad faith action pending against the State of Idaho.

Shoshone & Bannock Tribes v. Idaho in which a successful final judgment was obtained entitling the Tribe to offer Class III gaming devices without being subject to a 5% revenue share and limits on growth agreed to by other Idaho Tribes (note – as of July 12, 2004 the time for the State to appeal the decision has not expired).

• MM&A Productions v. Yavapai Apache Nation in which a six million dollar damages claim was based on a breach of a written contract signed by a Tribal official including language waiving the Tribe’s sovereign immunity from lawsuits. The Trial Court dismissed the case on the grounds that the Doctrine of Apparent Authority cannot be applied to diminish tribal sovereign immunity from suit. The Arizona Appeals Court affirmed.

Redding Rancheria v. Department of the Interior, in which the Ninth circuit vacated a District Court decision that would have prevented the Rancheria from relocating its gaming facility on lands that were acquired after 1988 as part of the restoration of the Rancheria’s land base.

Polanco v. Wilson in which a successful State Court injunction was obtained against Governor Pete Wilson voiding the infamous Pala Compact.

Rincon Band v. Rincon Mushroom Corporation of America/ Rincon Band v. Donius is ongoing multi-faceted and multi-jurisdictional litigation all involving the core issue of the Tribe’s authority to exercise civil regulatory jurisdiction over non-Indian individuals and entities activities on non-Indian lands within the reservation boundaries. To date, this dispute has resulted in favorable tribal court decisions enabling the Tribe to remove structures on the Reservation developed in violation of tribal law, and favorable state-court decisions and dismissing for failure to exhaust tribal administrative and court decisions claims made against the Tribe. Most recently, in July, 2012, the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court affirmed the USDC decision that the Tribe had made a colorable argument for tribal jurisdiction such that the non-Indian individuals and entities must exhaust their remedies in Tribal Court.

Knox v. Salazar in which an action brought against the United States challenging the validity of the four compacts between Tribes and the State of Idaho on the grounds that they violated the Idaho Constitution. After the Shoshone & Bannock Tribes submitted a “friend of the court” brief informing the court of disparity amongst the positions of the Idaho Tribes and that the Plaintiffs had been excluded from the Tribe’s facility, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit.

Tribal/State Compacts – Scott was the lead negotiator in the successful compact negotiations: 1) between the Shoshone & Bannock Tribe and the State of Idaho; and,  2) between the Coquille Tribe and the State of Oregon , 3) between the Shoalwater Bay Tribe and Washington State.  4) between the Spokane Tribe and Washington State, 4) In California, Scott was one of only four attorneys selected to negotiate the United Tribes, a coalition of more than 70 tribal governments negotiating with the Administration of Gray Davis in the spring of 1999, and was the lead negotiator for the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians, the Tule River Tribe, the Susanville Rancheria and the Alturas Rancheria when the Proposition 1A compacts were negotiated and executed. Scott has also served as a consultant to many other compact negotiations.

NCAI/NIGA Task Force –  Scott has served as an active member of the NCAI/NIGA Task Force which was active from 1993 to 1999. He was a member of the national negotiation team representing tribal governments on behalf of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) in negotiations with the National Governors Association (NGA) and the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) all of which was overseen by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee from 1993 to 1995.