Thursday, June 7, 2018
Injunction Against Indian Tribe With Warring Factions Was Appropriate
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a permanent injunction granted to the State of California requiring that an Indian tribe keep the peace at a casino near Yosemite National Park where violence broke out Oct. 9, 2014, between rival factions.
“Because the district court did not recognize one faction over another, and did not err by failing to recognize tribal court rulings that were irrelevant to the issues before it, reversal of the district court’s judgment or permanent injunction would not redress or have a practical effect on the injuries alleged” by the appellants, the memorandum decision, filed Tuesday, declares.
“On the merits, the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting the injunction. The State of California sufficiently established irreparable harm in the danger that the continued conflict over the tribal casino operations posed to public.”
Rival Security Teams
Violence occurred when a “security team” hired by one faction of the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians entered the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino, on tribal land, and did battle with the casino security team.
As described in the Dec. 22, 2015 order by Chief District Court Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill of the Eastern District of California, which a three-judge panel upheld Tuesday, the security force that raided the casino “emerged from multiple vehicles,” each member of it “armed with a variety of weapons, including handcuffs, mace or pepper spray, tasers, and firearms.”
Members of the invading force “handcuffed and detained members of the casino security force,” O’Neill recited, adding:
“At least one member of the casino security force had a firearm. The two security forces engaged in pushing and shoving. Tasers were fired. Firearms were drawn and pointed among the protagonists. Threats of violence were made.”
Confrontations also took place in other portions of the complex, including the hotel lobby and valet parking area, the judge said.
According to an Associated Press report, about 500 gamblers fled the casino that night, “leaving their chips on the table.”
Orders to Close
The day after the Oct. 9, 2014 fracas, the National Indian Gaming Commission ordered the casino closed down, and the same day O’Neill, acting on a request by then-state Attorney General Kamala Harris, also ordered closure.
In his Dec. 22, 2015 “Judgment and Permanent Injunction,” O’Neill said the casino could reopen when the National Indian Gaming Commission said it could. He proclaimed:
“The Tribe, and all of its officers, agents, servants, employees and attorneys, and all persons acting under the Tribe’s direction and control, including any group claiming to constitute the tribal government, shall be enjoined from deploying tribal police or other armed personnel of any nature within the area [of the commercial enterprise]. This prohibition includes weapons of any nature or sort such as, by way of example but not limited to, firearms, tasers, knives, clubs, and batons. The only armed personnel allowed in that area will be members of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, and armored transport personnel, acting within the scope of their official duties.”
The injunction requires that the “Tribe, and all of its officers, agents, servants, employees and attorneys, and all persons acting under the Tribe’s direction and control, including any group claiming to constitute the tribal government, shall be enjoined from possessing, carrying, displaying, or otherwise having firearms within the area” of the enterprise.
O’Neill ordered tribal council elections “that are conducted without significant incident that threatens or endangers public safety.”
Dissension within the tribe stemmed from a practice of “disenrolling” persons who were deemed not to be legitimate members of the tribe—resulting in a population of about 1,800 dwindling to about 900 members. Members of a faction disapproving of the practice were elected in February 2012—but the incumbents refused to leave office, and altercations ensued, culminating with the raid that led to the shuttering of the casino.
It reopened on Dec. 31, 2015.
The case is State of California v. Picayune Rancheria, 16-15096.
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