Mont. AG decides to run for governor
by Jessica M. Karmasek
HELENA, Mont. (Legal Newsline) - Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock said
Wednesday he is running for governor.
Bullock, already considered the favorite for the Democratic nomination, made the
announcement in a two-minute video. He will be hosting kickoff parties across the state
over the next week.
In the video, the attorney general talks about growing up and raising his family in
Montana. Picturesque views of the state are seen in the background.
He points to his record as attorney general, standing up for farmers and ranchers and
preserving access to public lands and streams for fishing and hunting.
Bullock says he is running for governor to "make Montana the last best place, not just for
postcards, but for people, too."
As governor, he is looking to create good paying jobs in research, technology,
development and manufacturing, and to attract businesses to the state.
Bullock says he wants Montana to lead the country in educational innovation -- and be a
place where students are able to graduate college without tens of thousands of dollars in
He says responsibly developing the state's resources and leading the way in energy
independence also are priorities.
Bullock graduated from Helena High School in 1984. He received his undergraduate
degree from Claremont McKenna College and his law degree from Columbia University
Law School in New York.
He and his wife Lisa and their three children live in Helena.
Already, there are groups expressing their disapproval at the attorney general's
Mike Schrimpf, spokesman for the Republican Governors Association, said the last thing
Bullock needs is a promotion.
"Montana needs a governor whose top priority will be creating jobs. Unfortunately, as
attorney general, Steve Bullock has made Montana a less attractive state in which to
invest or start a business," he said in a statement.
"He's even refused to defend Montana taxpayers against ObamaCare, which will cost the
state more than $175 million."
Former U.S. Rep. Rick Hill, national security expert Neil Livingstone, former Republican
Party chairman Ken Miller and former state Sen. Corey Stapleton are vying for the GOP
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Democratic Attorney General Bullock to Run for Montana Governor
By AP News, 9-06-11
HELENA – Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock will enter the race to be the state's
next governor with a speech Wednesday to supporters, two people close to the Democrat
Bullock, a rising star within the Democratic party, will leave the attorney general's office
after one term and shift his re-election campaign to the governor's race for 2012,
according to one person involved in Bullock's campaign and another who is a top adviser
to the Democrat.
Bullock planned to formally announce his candidacy in Billings, they said. The two
spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly
before the announcement, which will be followed by other events around the state.
Bullock, 45, will attempt to succeed Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat who has enjoyed
immense popularity in a state that leans conservative but can't run for re-election because
of term limits.
Many Democrats had been pushing Bullock to make the switch, and speculation was
widespread that he would run for the top office. Two Democrats had even filed to run for
the attorney general spot, confident that Bullock would not be seeking re-election.
The attorney general, with less than one term completed in his first statewide office, has
strong, organized backing. He has raised about $200,000 in his re-election effort, money
that can be transferred to the governor's race.
Bullock already has been able to stay even in the money battle with Republican front-
runner and former congressman Rick Hill.
The two have easily outpaced others in the race, mostly Republicans in a crowded field
that include former state senators Ken Miller of Laurel and Corey Stapleton of Billings,
along with security consultant Neil Livingstone, whose consultancy is based in
Washington, D.C., but lives in Helena.
The only other Democrat in the race is state legislator Larry Jent of Bozeman, who so far
has not raised much money.
As attorney general, Bullock spearheaded a crackdown on drinking and driving with
tougher new laws capped by a program that provides daily monitoring of multiple
offenders. He personally took the case to defend Montana's century-old ban on corporate
political spending in a legal battle with a conservative political group.
Bullock targeted prescription-drug abuse with a new initiative. He made national news
when he filed a lawsuit against a defunct video store chain that was aggressively using
collections agents to pursue former customers who didn't return movies before the doors
Bullock won a close race in 2008 against Republican Tim Fox, a battle that was one of
the most fiercely contested races in the state that year. Both received strong support from
their respective parties — a feat Bullock will need to repeat if he is to come out on top
The lesson learned in that rough election battle could come in handy. Republicans have
been hammering Bullock — such as for failing to join the lawsuit against federal health
care reform — in anticipation of the news that he would switch to the governor's race.
Republicans pointed out that auditors found the sex-offender registry maintained by
Bullock's office was full of inaccurate or unverifiable address information. They
chastised the attorney general for using his seat on the Land Board to oppose a coal lease
in eastern Montana.
The GOP filed a lawsuit last week seeking intervention in their dispute with Bullock and
his campaign fundraising methods. Bullock had been raising money without declaring if
he will seek re-election or run for governor.
The past and present commissioners of political practice have said that nothing in state
law prevents the move, and Bullock said he spoke to the past commissioner before filing
his paperwork the way he did.
But the Montana Republican Party argued the law is clear that candidates must specify an
office when filing financial disclosures even if they have not formally filed for an office
with state election officials.
Bullock raised his profile among Democrats in 2006 when he led a successful initiative
campaign to increase the state minimum wage. Prior to that, he served as a lawyer in the
offices of attorney general and secretary of state.
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Kroger seeks 2nd term as Oregon attorney general
JONATHAN J. COOPER, Associated Press
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon Attorney General John Kroger announced Wednesday
that he is seeking another four years as the state's top lawyer and prosecutor.
Kroger, a 45-year-old Democrat, said voters should re-elect him because of his record
enforcing laws on consumer and environmental protection, as well as mortgage fraud and
"I'm running on that record, which I really think speaks volumes about how hard we've
worked to hold people accountable when they break the law," Kroger told The
Associated Press in an interview.
Kroger said he would continue focusing on the same issues if elected to a second term.
He said his office took legal action against 140 companies accused of breaking consumer
laws, recovering $75 million for victims and taxpayers.
And, he said, he assigned lawyers to work full-time on illegal pollution and mortgage
He said he has learned from his first term how to deal with the Legislature, citing
unsuccessful attempts to push through major pieces of legislation. Kroger sought, for
example, a significant overhaul of the state's public records and open meetings laws, but
it went nowhere.
"Sometimes you need to swing for the fences and try to hit a home run, and sometimes
you have to get progress more slowly and more gradually," he said.
Kroger has been criticized for the handling of an investigation into an energy contract
that benefited a company owned by Cylvia Hayes, the companion of Democratic Gov.
John Kitzhaber. Kroger recommended that four state workers be fired over the contract,
but private investigators later found they did nothing wrong.
No charges were filed, and Kroger's top criminal prosecutor, Sean Riddell, resigned after
he deleted a number of government emails related to the case. He was the subject of a bar
complaint by lawyers arguing that he bullied and lied to the targets of the investigation —
a claim Kroger's office has called baseless.
Kroger said he stands by his decision to recommend the employees be fired.
In a separate case, a Marion County grand jury found that a former Kroger aide was
untruthful with Justice Department colleagues regarding his role in taking a water sample
outside a Hood River juice company. The grand jury refused to indict the lawyer, Brent
Foster, and the company's owner pleaded guilty to supplying false information and
criminal water pollution.
"We handle thousands of cases a year, and we're not going to handle every one of those
cases perfectly," Kroger said. "But we are very transparent. When we make mistakes we
admit them, and we hold ourselves accountable for the mistakes that we make."
Oregon Republican Party spokesman Greg Leo said Kroger is "bent on his own self-
promotion" and has politicized the attorney general's office. He cited the investigation of
Hayes' energy contract and the Foster case.
Kroger received the nomination of both the Democratic and Republican parties in 2008,
when the GOP did not have a candidate of its own. Leo said the GOP would have its own
nominee in 2012.
Kroger is a former Marine and federal prosecutor who handled organized crime, public
corruption, white collar crime and drug trafficking cases. He was also a prosecutor in the
Enron case, winning indictments against two top executives who became witnesses
against former Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay and CEO Jeffrey Skilling, both convicted
Later, he was a law professor at Lewis and Clark in Portland before running for attorney
general in 2008. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Yale University and a law
degree from Harvard.
Kroger is considered a potential candidate for governor in 2014 if Kitzhaber decides not
to run again. Kroger said speculation on his political future is premature and that he
would recommend that Kitzhaber seek a fourth term.
Thursday is the first day that candidates can file papers to run for office in next year's
Arizona Sues U.S. Over Voting Rights
By EVAN PEREZ
WASHINGTON—The State of Arizona filed suit Thursday against the federal
government, challenging the constitutionality of a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said the lawsuit is aimed at the portion of the law
that requires Arizona and other jurisdictions mostly in the South to get permission, or
preclearance, from the Justice Department for any changes to voting procedures. The
changes that require preclearance include redistricting.
The suit opens a new front in legal battles between Arizona and the federal government.
In recent years the two sides have tussled mostly over immigration-related state laws that
the federal government has argued infringe on its turf.
The Voting Rights Act won backing in 2009 from the Supreme Court, which avoided a
broad ruling on the law by focusing narrowly on allowing small jurisdictions to remove
themselves from federal supervision for election procedures. At the same time, the court
suggested it was growing uncomfortable with the legality of Section 5 of the law, which
is the portion the Arizona lawsuit challenges.
"The Voting Rights Act plays a vital role in our society by ensuring that every American
has the right to vote and to have that vote counted," said Attorney General Eric Holder.
"The provisions challenged in this case, including the preclearance requirement, were
reauthorized by Congress in 2006 with overwhelming and bipartisan support."
The lawsuit filed in federal court in the District of Columbia comes as civil-rights leaders
gather in Washington to celebrate Sunday's official dedication of a memorial to the Rev.
Martin Luther King Jr., who fought for the legislation barring voting procedures that
result in discrimination.
Mr. Horne, in an interview, said Arizona is subject to a "tortuous" Justice Department
procedure even though it has demonstrated fairness to racial minority voters. Congress
added changes to the law in 1975 that require Arizona to abide by the preclearance rules,
he said, despite the fact that the state had already instituted bilingual ballots.
"We're still being severely punished for something that was arbitrarily done by Congress
40 years ago," he said.
Mr. Horne said the timing of the suit is coincidental, noting that he joined the March on
Washington in 1963 and attended Dr. King's speech at the Lincoln Memorial.
Write to Evan Perez at email@example.com
Supreme Court upholds AG’s authority to pursue health care challenge
OLYMPIA – In a 9-0 ruling, the Washington State Supreme Court denied the City of
Seattle’s request to require Attorney General Rob McKenna to withdraw Washington
from the multi-state lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal health care
law passed in March 2010 and upheld the Attorney General’s authority to defend the
―I’m pleased the court affirmed the authority and responsibility of the Attorney General
to challenge the constitutionality of federal laws that threaten the constitutional rights of
this state and its people,‖ McKenna said. ―It’s important that the state’s constitutionally-
established, independently-elected Attorney General – whomever it may be — have the
authority to protect the legal rights of the state and its people in the years to come.‖
The city argued the Attorney General overstepped his authority when he joined more than
a dozen state attorneys general in filing the suit in late March 2010.
The state argued the courts have consistently recognized that the Attorney General’s
constitutional and statutory role requires him or her to exercise independent legal
judgment that takes into account the legal interests of the state of Washington as a whole
when determining how to best protect its legal rights.
The court ruled 9-0 that state law grants the Attorney General discretionary authority to
act in any court on ―a matter of public concern,‖ that the federal health care reform act
was of ―public concern‖ and therefore denied the City of Seattle’s request to force the
Attorney General to withdraw the state from the multistate lawsuit. The suit now includes
26 states, the National Federal of Independent Business and several individuals.
Solicitor General Maureen Hart argued the case on behalf of the state.
On August 12, 2011, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the federal government may
not force individuals to purchase government-approved health insurance in the private
marketplace, stating Congress may not ―mandate that individuals enter into contracts with
private insurance companies for the purchase of an expensive product from the time they
are born until the time they die.‖
Officials: Bosses of Mexican Cartel Arrested in Utah
Published September 01, 2011 | Associated Press
Federal agents arrested several suspected bosses of a Mexican drug syndicate in a move
authorities said Wednesday decimated a Utah-based cell of the Sinaloa cartel.
At least seven arrests were made Tuesday after raids at a home in South Jordan, a South
Salt Lake restaurant and along Interstate 15 in southern Utah.
The takedown was part of an 18-month investigation that yielded more than 30 arrests in
Utah, California and Nevada, said Sue Thomas, a spokeswoman for the Drug
"It was a great day," Thomas said. "We removed the cell head, who was the guy who was
coordinating the shipments coming to Utah from Mexico and California."
Federal prosecutors were expected to begin seeking indictments against the suspects in
U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City during the next few weeks.
DEA agents aren't certain how long the cell had been operating, but Thomas said it was a
well-coordinated operation that was deeply entrenched in the Salt Lake City area. The
cell was handling large amounts of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin, she said.
The drugs were being sold locally and repackaged for distribution elsewhere in the U.S.,
Thomas said. Most of the drugs were being moved into Utah in small packages by
Over the course of the investigation, authorities also seized more than 30 pounds of
methamphetamine, 200 pounds of marijuana, a kilogram of heroin and a kilogram of
cocaine, as well as more than $322,000 and guns.
"We think that was a drop in bucket in terms of what they were moving," Thomas said.
A pound of methamphetamine is worth about $14,000 on the street, she said.
South Dakota’s School Funding System Upheld
PIERRE, S.D. – Attorney General Marty Jackley announces that the South Dakota
Supreme Court has unanimously held that the Plaintiffs in Davis v. State failed to prove
that South Dakota’s school funding system is unconstitutional. The Plaintiffs did not
prove that the school funding system fails to provide children of the state with an
adequate and quality education which gives them the opportunity to prepare for their
future roles as citizens, participants in the political system, and competitors both
economically and intellectually. The Court further found that statewide, students in South
Dakota compare favorably at a national level. The Plaintiffs were unable to establish that
increased funding would result in even greater student achievement.
State funding based on the state aid formula is the largest source of revenue for South
Dakota’s public school districts, followed by local property taxes. The districts also
depend on other revenue sources such as borrowed funds through bond issues; funds
from federal, state or other political subdivisions; and funds received from fines and
penalties. The state aid formula funds school districts based on an established per student
allocation, a district’s enrollment, and the amount of local property tax levied. School
districts may increase their funds by ―opting out‖ of the tax levies and tax at higher rates.
―Even though the State prevailed in this constitutional challenge, we must be vigilant in
continuing to provide the necessary financial resources and cost-effective solutions for
our children’s education,‖ said Attorney General Marty Jackley. ―We are fortunate that
South Dakota maintains a healthy base of highly qualified, hardworking teachers that are
devoted to the education of our children.‖
South Dakota’s Abortion Disclosure Requirements Upheld by Federal
Court of Appeals
PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley announces that the Eighth
Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today in Planned Parenthood v. Rounds (III) that
significant provisions of South Dakota’s abortion disclosure requirements are
―Today’s decision supports the Legislature’s goal of encouraging women seeking an
abortion to make informed and voluntary decisions,‖ stated Attorney General Marty
Jackley. ―This decision will provide further guidance and direction with respect to
Planned Parenthood’s challenge to recent legislation which establishes procedures to
ensure that abortion decisions are voluntary and uncoerced.‖
In 2005, South Dakota enacted HB 1166 expanding the requirements for informed
consent to abortions occurring in South Dakota. The bill requires, among other matters,
that a woman seeking a lawful abortion be advised of the following:
1. That the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living
human being (the human being disclosure);
2. That the patient has an existing relationship with that unborn human being
protected by law, which will be terminated by having an abortion (collectively the
3. A description of all known medical risks of the abortion procedure including the
increased risk of suicide (collectively medical risk disclosure).
Before the Act was scheduled to take effect in 2005, Planned Parenthood brought a
constitutional challenge under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The District Court
ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood in terminating the intervention of the pregnancy
health centers in the litigation, and enjoined the 2005 Act from taking effect.
In Planned Parenthood v. Alpha Center (Rounds I), the Eighth Circuit reversed the
District Court’s decision and allowed the pregnancy help centers to intervene. In
Planned Parenthood v. Rounds (II), the en banc Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals
reversed the District Court’s granting of the preliminary injunction, holding that the
required human being advisory did not violate the First Amendment. The Eighth Circuit
vacated the preliminary injunction and remanded to the District Court for resolution of
Planned Parenthood’s additional challenges to the 2005 statutory scheme.
On remand from the Eighth Circuit, the District Court granted summary judgment in
favor of South Dakota on the human being disclosure. However, the District Court ruled
in favor of Planned Parenthood and again enjoined enforcement of the relationship
advisories and the suicide risk disclosure.
In today’s Planned Parenthood v. Rounds (III) decision, the Eighth Circuit Court held
that ―Planned Parenthood has not demonstrated that the human being advisory would
present an undue burden,‖ and upheld those advisories. As to the relationship advisories,
the Eighth Circuit concluded ―we adopt the reasonable readings South Dakota proposes
and hold that § 7 requires a statement that the woman seeking abortion is legally and
constitutionally protected against being forced to have an abortion. Since no one can
require her to have an abortion, this reading conveys legal information that is truthful, not
misleading, and relevant to the abortion decision.‖ The Eighth Circuit went on to
conclude that the relationship advisories are constitutional.
Finally, the Rounds III Court further upheld the requirements that doctors disclose ―all
known medical risks‖ of abortion. However, the Court concluded, in the face of a
dissent, that the disclosure regarding increased risk of suicide as written violated the
Constitution. The Eighth Circuit noted that South Dakota common law already requires
doctors to inform patients of all known material or significant risks of a medical
procedure. Thus, if a doctor considers suicide a known material risk of abortion, there
already exists a common law duty to warn patients.
 Planned Parenthood v. Alpha Center, 213 Fed. Appx. 508 (8th Cir. 2007)
 Planned Parenthood v. Rounds (II), 530 F.3 724 (8th Cir. 2008) (en banc)
ATTORNEY GENERAL SEEKS TO TERMINATE COUNTRYWIDE
Carson City: - The Attorney General of Nevada has requested permission to amend her
Complaint against Bank of America (and its subsidiaries, including Countrywide) adding
additional claims relating to mortgage origination and servicing.
The Second Amended Complaint continues to assert violations of the Consent Judgment
entered into between the State of Nevada and Countrywide to resolve Countrywide’s
liability for fraudulent mortgage lending, marketing and servicing, including:
· failing to provide loan modifications to eligible borrowers;
· failing to make decisions on loan modifications, on average, within sixty days of
receiving requests from Nevada consumers; and
· initiating or proceeding with foreclosures while consumer’s modifications requests
In addition, the Amended complaint contains new allegations that Bank of America
violated the Consent Judgment, namely that Bank of America:
· increased consumers’ interest rates and monthly payments, even though the
Consent Judgment allows only modifications that decrease consumers’ interest rates,
actually leaving consumers worse off.
· required consumers to provide extensive documentation – including pay stubs, tax
returns, and sworn affidavits -- to qualify for modifications, despite the Consent
Judgment’s promise of streamlined modifications.
Based on the original and new violations, the State added a new request for relief – that
the Court find Bank of America to have materially breached the Consent Judgment,
allowing the State to terminate the Judgment. The State’s Motion for Leave to Amend
states with these additional violations, the State considers Defendants’ disregard for their
duties under the Consent Judgment so pervasive that they constitute a material breach
warranting dissolution of that Judgment. After two and a half years of lost
implementation – of borrowers denied modifications, discouraged by repeated and futile
efforts to obtain help, or already subject to foreclosure – the State no longer can get the
benefit of its original settlement with Defendants.
Upon terminating the Consent Judgment, the State would be released to pursue its
original claims against Countrywide for consumer fraud in originating, marketing and
servicing mortgage loans. In that regard, the Complaint alleges that Countrywide failed to
disclose and affirmatively misrepresented that loans like its Payment Option Adjustable
Rate Mortgages (―Option ARMS’) and Hybrid Adjustable Rate Mortgages (―Hybrid
ARMS‖) were originated at low teaser raters, in effect only for a short time, and that
payment on these loans would increase dramatically – often more than double the
original rate – when the teaser period expired or the loans reset or recast. In addition,
Countrywide did not disclose that consumers who made only a minimum payment, based
on that low teaser rate, would experience negative amortization, which would cause them
to fall deeper in debt. These features, which made the loans unaffordable, created the
need for many Nevada customers of Bank of America to seek loan modifications.
The Second Amended Complaint continues to allege that Bank of America engaged in
deceptive practices through a pattern and practice of misrepresentations regarding its loss
mitigation and foreclosure practices, including by falsely:
promising consumers that their trial modifications would be made permanent if
and when they made their required payments, but then failing to convert those
assuring consumers that their homes would not be foreclosed while their requests
for modifications were pending, but going ahead with foreclosures anyway; and
representing whether consumers were eligible for modifications, whether and on
what terms they had been approved for modifications, and why their modification
requests had been declined.
The Second Amended Complaint notes interviews with Bank of America consumers,
former employees, and other third parties that confirm that the modification process was
understaffed, wrought with technical problems, and not oriented to customers. The
Complaint also asserts that Bank of America directed employees to spend no more than
7-10 minutes on average with each consumer, leaving them no time to fully or accurately
answer questions or provide explanations or offer assistance.
Thus, the Second Amended Complaint alleges that Bank of America’s misconduct cuts
across virtually every aspect of its operations – from originating to servicing and, all too
often, to foreclosing on the loans and homes of Nevada consumers. Countrywide
misrepresented the nature and terms of their mortgage loans, ensnaring Nevada
consumers in loans that they did not understand and could not repay. When consumers
defaulted on these loans, Bank of America misrepresented whether, when, and how they
would modify these loans. When they failed to deliver this promised relief, Bank of
America provided to Nevada consumers, recorded and filed with Nevada courts
fraudulent documents as they moved, sometimes without authority, to foreclose on homes
that never should have been bought.
Finally, the State alleges that Defendants’ deceptive practices have resulted in an
explosion of delinquencies and unauthorized and unnecessary foreclosures in the State of
Nevada, stripping homeowners of their assets (including those who do not have loans
originated or serviced by Defendants, but whose property values have fallen
dramatically), dislocating families, blighting neighborhoods, and deeply disrupting the
State’s housing market.
State of Nevada v. Bank of America Corporation is currently pending in the Nevada
District Court before Chief Judge Robert C. Jones. Case No. CV-11-135-RCJ-RAM.
Motion to bar Montana, Idaho wolf hunts denied
The Associated Press
A federal appeals court on Thursday denied a request by environmental groups to halt
wolf hunts that are scheduled to begin next week in Idaho and Montana.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the request by the Alliance for the Wild
Rockies and other groups. The groups were seeking to cancel the hunts while the court
considers a challenge to congressional action in April that stripped wolves of federal
protections in Montana and Idaho, and in parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula reluctantly upheld a
budget rider that was inserted by Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, and Sen. Jon Tester, D-
Mont. It marked the first time since the passage of the Endangered Species Act in 1973
that Congress forcibly removed protections from a plant or animal.
Molloy ruled that the way Congress went about removing endangered species protections
from the Northern Rockies gray wolf undermined the rule of law but did not violate the
Constitution. Meanwhile, the environmental groups argued Congress' actions were
unconstitutional because they violated the principle of separation of powers.
"We lost the injunction, we have not lost the case," Mike Garrity, executive director of
the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, said of Thursday's court ruling. "We will continue to
fight to protect
Meanwhile, John Horning, executive director for WildEarth Guardians, one of the groups
involved in the case, said, "We are discouraged we didn't win a stay of execution for
wolves, but we are cautiously optimistic that we will win our lawsuit to protect wolves
from future persecution."
Wolf hunts are scheduled to begin Aug. 30 in Idaho and Sept. 3 in Montana. Hunters in
Montana will be allowed to shoot as many as 220 gray wolves, reducing the predators'
Montana population by about 25 percent to a minimum of 425 wolves.
In Idaho, where an estimated 1,000 wolves roam, state wildlife managers have declined
to name a target for kills for the seven-month hunting season. They say the state will
manage wolves so their population remains above 150 animals and 15 breeding pairs, the
point where Idaho could attract federal scrutiny for a possible re-listing under the
Endangered Species Act.
Federal officials giving tribal police more authority
Federal authorities have an existing process for handling petty offenses on ―federal
enclaves‖ within states, like national forests, Air Force bases, and Veterans
Administration facilities. A Central Violations Bureau in San Antonio, Texas, processes
all those citations, and then they’re handled through the federal court in each state.
BOISE – Law enforcement is being hampered in Indian Country by what federal
authorities describe as jurisdictional gaps.
So they’re working with three Idaho tribes, including the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, to
federalize tribal police, giving officers the authority to issue citations to non-Indians on
the reservation for some minor offenses - with the backing of federal courts.
Once the lengthy process is completed – likely in time for next summer’s boating season
– non-tribal members who violate boating laws on the southern third of Lake Coeur
d’Alene could be issued federal citations by tribal officers. The southern third of the lake
belongs to the tribe; the U.S. Supreme Court decided that in 2001.
―The lake is obviously an area of contention … that a lot of folks are concerned about,
and certainly the tribe is,‖ said Coeur d’Alene tribal legislative director Helo Hancock.
―It’s something we’ve fought hard for and we want to protect, and we certainly want law
and order on the lake too.‖
Law enforcement in Indian Country is a complicated web, with tribal courts handling
minor crimes by tribal members on reservations, state authorities prosecuting non-
Indians, and federal authorities prosecuting major crimes by Indians on reservations and
areas where the other jurisdictions overlap.
The Coeur d’Alenes unsuccessfully pushed legislation for the past two years to establish
cross-deputization for tribal officers with counties. After the latest bill failed by one vote
in the Idaho House of Representatives, the Benewah County Sheriff’s Office agreed in
April to cross-deputize five Coeur d’Alene officers, which allows them to cite non-tribal
members into state court.
The Coeur d’Alene Tribe has long had a cross-deputization agreement with Kootenai
County, and it had one with Benewah County until the sheriff there revoked it in October
2007. Relations between the county and the tribe deteriorated further in July 2008 after
tribal police marine officers pulled over Benewah County Commission Chairman Jack
Buell and his wife, Eleanor, for violating a no-wake zone on Lake Coeur d’Alene. A
confrontation ensued in which Buell and his wife vociferously questioned the tribal
officers’ authority, according to police reports, asking questions such as, ―Do you Indians
know where you are?‖ Eleanor Buell was accused of striking one of the officers.
This spring, the St. Maries Police Department cross-deputized five tribal officers, and the
tribe cross-deputized four St. Maries police officers. ―Most people, when they need a
police officer, they just need a police officer that’ll handle the situation – they don’t care
the color of their shirt,‖ said St. Maries Mayor Tami Holdahl, who is also a Coeur
d’Alene tribal police officer.
But the limited cross-deputization didn’t fill all the gaps in jurisdictions, Hancock said.
Plus, he said, ―There is not a formal cross-deputization agreement with Benewah County,
and as such, the sheriff could pull those officers’ deputization at any time for any reason
he wants. We need a reliable backup to provide continuity in law enforcement regardless
of who the sheriff may be now or down the road.‖
Federal authorities have an existing process for handling petty offenses on ―federal
enclaves‖ within states, such as national forests, Air Force bases, and Veterans
Administration facilities. A Central Violations Bureau, or CVB, in San Antonio, Texas,
processes all those citations, and then they’re handled through the federal court in
That’s the process tribes would tap into with their federalized officers, said U.S.
Magistrate Judge Candy Dale, who is coordinating the effort for the federal court
―It is ultimately to try to help fill in some of those gaps,‖ she said.
Dale travels to Coeur d’Alene once a month to hear North Idaho CVB cases, which
typically consist of citations for off-road vehicle violations, littering or underage drinking
at campgrounds, overstaying camping limits, unsafe campfires and timber thefts.
Dale and the U.S. attorney’s office for Idaho are looking into bringing certain reservation
offenses under that CVB program, including boating and dock violations on Lake Coeur
d’Alene within the Coeur d’Alene reservation, and possibly natural resource violations,
trespassing or other offenses on the Nez Perce and Shoshone-Bannock reservations.
―It was an option we made each of the tribes aware of,‖ said Wendy Olson, U.S. attorney
for Idaho. Half a dozen states already use the process for infractions on
―It operates in many instances like any sort of traffic infraction or parking infraction
would – if you just want to pay the fine, you don’t have to come to court,‖ Olson said.
But people do have a right to demand a trial, or to contest their fines in court, and that’s
what the monthly docket at the federal courthouse in Coeur d’Alene addresses. Similar
sessions also are held in Boise, Moscow and Pocatello every other month.
―The advantage is there’s an enforcement mechanism for the tribe,‖ Olson said. ―The
non-tribal members, once they leave the reservation, if they are cited into tribal court –
there’s nothing the tribe can do to enforce its violation.‖
That’s because tribal courts don’t have jurisdiction over non-tribal members – but federal
―The ultimate goal is really to have community safety, public safety, be as similar in
terms of enforcement mechanisms in Indian Country as they are in other parts of the state
of Idaho with federal jurisdiction,‖ Olson said.