Justia Minnesota Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Native American Law
In re Welfare of Children of S.R.K. & O.A.K.
In a proceeding to terminate parental rights that is governed by the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and the Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act (MIFPA), qualified expert witness testimony is required to support the determination that continued custody of the child by the parent is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child.The district court terminated the parental rights of Mother and Father, concluding that ICWA and MIFPA applied to the proceedings and that the laws’ requirements had been satisfied. The court of appeals reversed in part, holding that the district court erred in failing expressly to find under ICWA and MIFPA that continued custody of the child by the parent was likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child. On appeal, the district court stated as much in a one-sentence addendum to its findings of fact and conclusions of law. The court of appeals affirmed the district court’s termination decision. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the district court erred in terminating Father’s parental rights because the qualified expert witness’s testimony did not support the court’s determination that continued custody of the children by Father would likely result in serious damage to the children. View "In re Welfare of Children of S.R.K. & O.A.K." on Justia Law
City of Duluth v. Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
In 1986, the City of Duluth and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (the Band) entered into several agreements establishing a joint venture to operate gaming activities in Duluth. The agreements required that the Band seek approval before creating any additional Indian Country. In 1994, the Band and the City created a series of new agreements and amendments to the 1986 agreements. In 2010, the Band acquired a plot of land. The Band sought to have the plot placed in trust but did not seek the City’s approval to do so, as required by the 1986 agreements. The City commenced this action in state district court seeking a court order requiring the Band to withdraw its trust application. The district court dismissed the lawsuit, concluding that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the Band had only consented to suit in federal court in the 1994 agreements. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals’ decision and reinstated the district court’s judgment for the Band, holding that the Court lacked jurisdiction to decide the issue of whether the Band breached the 1986 agreements because it required interpretation of the 1994 agreements, which was a matter vested in the federal courts. View "City of Duluth v. Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa" on Justia Law
Beaulieu v. Dep’t of Human Servs.
Appellant, an enrolled member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, was civilly committed to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP). Appellant appealed, challenging his indeterminate civil commitment by asserting three substantive claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court had jurisdiction to indeterminately civilly commit an enrolled member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe; (2) the doctrines of collateral estoppel and res judicata did not preclude the State from presenting in the civil commitment proceeding evidence of conduct alleged in earlier criminal cases that ended in acquittals; and (3) Appellant waived his to right appellate review of his claim that the State violated the Minnesota Constitution when it committed him without a trial by jury. View "Beaulieu v. Dep't of Human Servs." on Justia Law
In re R.S.
After parental rights to an Indian child were involuntarily terminated in district court, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe (the Band) petitioned for transfer of the ensuing preadoptive placement proceedings to its tribal court. The district court granted the Band's motion even though the child did not reside and was not domiciled within the tribe's reservation. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that with respect to an Indian child not residing or domiciled on the child's tribe's reservation, (1) the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) permits transfer to tribal court of only foster care placement and termination of parental rights proceedings; and (2) Rule 48 of the Minnesota Rules of Juvenile Protection Procedure, providing for transfer of the juvenile protection matter to an Indian child's tribe, is limited to foster care placement and termination of parental rights proceedings. View "In re R.S." on Justia Law
In re Civil Commitment of Johnson
Two tribal members (Appellants) were committed as sexually dangerous persons under Minn. Stat. 253B.02, 18c and committed to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program. Appellants moved to dismiss their commitments for lack of subject matter jurisdiction based on their status as enrolled tribal members. The district court denied both motions to dismiss. Appellants appealed the district court's orders, and the court of appeals affirmed, holding that even though federal law did not affirmatively grant the State jurisdiction to commit appellants, federal law did not preempt appellants' commitments. On review, the Supreme Court affirmed, holding that (1) based on the terms of the state's civil commitment statute, appellants' commitments were civil causes of action subject to Congress' express grant of civil jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1360(a); (2) in light of the strong State interests presented, the fact that Congress has not pervasively regulated this area of the law, and the minimal intrusion on tribal sovereignty, Minnesota's enforcement of chapter 253B was not preempted; and (3) the state had jurisdiction to civilly commit Appellants. View "In re Civil Commitment of Johnson" on Justia Law