507 U.S. 99 (1993), 91-5397, Negonsott v. Samuels

Docket Nº:No. 91-5397
Citation:507 U.S. 99, 113 S.Ct. 1119, 122 L.Ed.2d 457, 61 U.S.L.W. 4185
Party Name:Negonsott v. Samuels
Case Date:February 24, 1993
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 99

507 U.S. 99 (1993)

113 S.Ct. 1119, 122 L.Ed.2d 457, 61 U.S.L.W. 4185

Negonsott

v.

Samuels

No. 91-5397

United States Supreme Court

Feb. 24, 1993

Argued Jan. 11, 1992

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE TENTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

Petitioner Negonsott, a member of the Kickapoo Tribe and a resident of the Kickapoo [113 S.Ct. 1120] reservation in Kansas, was convicted by a County District Court jury of aggravated battery for shooting another Indian on the reservation. The court set aside the conviction on the ground that the Federal Government had exclusive jurisdiction to prosecute Negonsott for the shooting under the Indian Major Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1153, which encompasses 13 enumerated felonies committed by "[a]ny Indian against . . . the person or property of another Indian or other person . . . within the Indian country." However, the State Supreme Court reinstated the conviction, holding that the Kansas Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3243, conferred on Kansas jurisdiction to prosecute all crimes committed by or against Indians on Indian reservations in the State. Subsequently, the Federal District Court dismissed Negonsott's petition for a writ of habeas corpus, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.

Held: The Kansas Act explicitly confers jurisdiction on Kansas over all offenses involving Indians on Indian reservations. Congress has plenary authority to alter the otherwise exclusive nature of federal jurisdiction under § 1153. Standing alone, the Kansas Act's first sentence -- which confers jurisdiction on Kansas over

offenses committed by or against Indians on Indian reservations . . . to the same extent as its courts have jurisdiction over offenses committed elsewhere within the State in accordance with the laws of the State

-- is an unambiguous grant of jurisdiction over both major and minor offenses. And the most logical meaning of the Act's second sentence -- which provides that nothing in the Act shall "deprive" federal courts of their "jurisdiction over offenses defined by the laws of the United States" -- is that federal courts shall retain their jurisdiction to try all offenses subject to federal jurisdiction, while Kansas courts shall have jurisdiction to try persons for the same conduct when it violates state law. This is the only reading of the Kansas Act that gives effect to every clause and word of the statute, and it is supported by the Act's legislative history. In contrast, if this Court were to accept Negonsott's argument that the second sentence renders federal jurisdiction exclusive whenever the underlying conduct is punishable under federal law, Kansas would be left with jurisdiction over only those minor offenses committed by one Indian against

Page 100

the person or property of another, a result that can hardly be reconciled with the first sentence's unqualified grant of jurisdiction. There is no need to resort to the canon of statutory construction that ambiguities should be resolved in favor of Indians, since the Kansas Act quite unambiguously confers jurisdiction on the State. Pp. 102-110.

933 F.2d 818 (C.A.10 1991), affirmed.

REHNQUIST, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which WHITE, BLACKMUN, STEVENS, O'CONNOR, KENNEDY, and SOUTER, JJ., joined, and in all but Part II-B of which SCALIA and THOMAS, JJ., joined.

REHNQUIST, J., lead opinion

CHIEF JUSTICE REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court. *

The question presented in this case is whether the Kansas Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3243, confers jurisdiction on the State of Kansas to prosecute the petitioner, a Kickapoo Indian, for the state law offense of aggravated battery committed against another Indian on an Indian reservation. [113 S.Ct. 1121] We hold that it does.

Page 101

I

Petitioner, Emery L. Negonsott, is a member of the Kickapoo Tribe and a resident of the Kickapoo reservation in Brown County, Kansas. In March, 1985, he was arrested by the county sheriff in connection with the shooting of another Indian on the Kickapoo reservation. After a jury trial in the Brown County District Court, petitioner was found guilty of aggravated battery. Kan.Stat.Ann. § 21-3414 (1988). The District Court set the conviction aside, however, on the ground that the Federal Government had exclusive jurisdiction to prosecute petitioner for the shooting under the Indian Major Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1153. The Kansas Supreme Court reinstated petitioner's conviction, holding that the Kansas Act conferred jurisdiction on Kansas to prosecute "all crimes committed by or against Indians on Indian reservations located in Kansas." State v. Nioce, 239 Kan. 127, 131, 716 P.2d 585, 588 (1986). On remand, the Brown County District Court sentenced petitioner to imprisonment for a term of three to ten years.

Petitioner then filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, reasserting his claim that Kansas lacked jurisdiction to prosecute him for aggravated battery. The District Court dismissed his petition, 696 F.Supp. 561 (Kan.1988), and the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed. 933 F.2d 818 (1991). The Court of Appeals found the language of the Kansas Act ambiguous as to

whether Congress intended to grant Kansas courts concurrent jurisdiction with federal courts over the crimes enumerated in the [Indian] Major Crimes Act, or whether by the second sentence of the Kansas Act Congress intended to retain exclusive jurisdiction in the federal courts over those specific crimes.

Id. at 820-821. After examining the Act's legislative history, however, the Court of Appeals resolved this ambiguity in favor of the first construction, and held that Kansas had jurisdiction to prosecute petitioner for aggravated battery.

Page 102

Id. at 821-823. We granted certiorari to resolve a conflict between the Courts of Appeals, 505 U.S. (1992),[1] and now affirm.

II

Criminal jurisdiction over offenses committed in "Indian country," 18 U.S.C. § 1151, "is governed by a complex patchwork of federal, state, and tribal law." Duro v. Reina, 495 U.S. 676, 680, n. 1 (1990). The Indian Country Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1152, extends the general criminal laws of federal maritime and enclave jurisdiction to Indian country, except for those "offenses committed by one Indian against the person or property of another Indian." See F. Cohen, Handbook of Federal Indian Law 288 (1982 ed.). These latter offenses typically are subject to the jurisdiction of the concerned Indian tribe, unless they are among those enumerated in the Indian Major Crimes Act. Originally enacted in 1885, the Indian Major Crimes Act establishes federal jurisdiction over 13 enumerated felonies committed by "[a]ny Indian . . . against the person or property of another Indian or other person . . . within the Indian country." § 1153(a).[2] As

Page 103

the text of § 1153, see n. [113 S.Ct. 1122] 2, supra, and our prior cases make clear, federal jurisdiction over the offenses covered by the Indian Major Crimes Act is "exclusive" of state jurisdiction. See United States v. John, 437 U.S. 634, 651 (1978); Seymour v. Superintendent of Washington State Penitentiary, 368 U.S. 351, 359 (1962); United States v. Kagama, 118 U.S. 375, 384 (1886).

Congress has plenary authority to alter these jurisdictional guideposts, see Washington v. Confederated Bands and Tribes of Yakima Indian Nation, 439 U.S. 463, 470-471 (1979), which it has exercised from time to time. This case concerns the first major grant of jurisdiction to a State over offenses involving Indians committed in Indian country, the Kansas Act, which provides in full:

Jurisdiction is conferred on the State of Kansas over offenses committed by or against Indians on Indian reservations, including trust or restricted allotments, within the State of Kansas, to the same extent as its courts have jurisdiction over offenses committed elsewhere within the State in accordance with the laws of the State.

This section shall not deprive the courts of the United States of jurisdiction over offenses defined by the laws of the United States committed by or against Indians on Indian reservations.

Act of June 8, 1940, ch. 276, 54 Stat. 249 (codified at 18 U.S.C. § 3243). Passed in 1940, the Kansas Act was followed in short order by virtually identical statutes granting to North Dakota and Iowa, respectively, jurisdiction to prosecute offenses committed

Page 104

by or against Indians on certain Indian reservations within their borders. See Act of May 31, 1946, ch. 279, 60 Stat. 229; Act of June 30, 1948, ch. 759, 62 Stat. 1161.

Kansas asserted jurisdiction to prosecute petitioner for aggravated battery under the Kansas Act. Petitioner challenges the State's jurisdiction in this regard. He contends that Congress added the second sentence of the Kansas Act to preserve the "exclusive" character of federal jurisdiction over the offenses enumerated in the Indian Major Crimes Act, and since the conduct resulting in his conviction for aggravated battery is punishable as at least two offenses listed in the Indian Major Crimes Act,[3] Kansas lacked jurisdiction to prosecute him in connection with the shooting incident. According to petitioner, the Kansas Act was intended to confer jurisdiction on Kansas only over misdemeanor offenses involving Indians on Indian reservations. To construe the statute otherwise, petitioner asserts, would effect an "implied repeal" of the Indian Major Crimes Act. Moreover, petitioner continues, the construction adopted by the Court of Appeals below is at odds with the legislative history of the Kansas Act, as well...

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261 practice notes
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    ...of statutory construction that a court must give effect, if possible, to every clause and word of a statute. Negonsott v. Samuels, 507 U.S. 99, ----, 113 S.Ct. 1119, 1123, 122 L.Ed.2d 457 (1993). When the statutory scheme is coherent and consistent, there generally is no need for a court to......
  • 209 B.R. 98 (Bkrtcy.E.D.Tenn. 1997), 97-30172, In re Patton
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    ...II When construing the provisions of a statute, it is the duty of the judiciary to effectuate the will of Congress. Negonsott v. Samuels, 507 U.S. 99, 103-04, 113 S.Ct. 1119, 1122, 122 L.Ed.2d 457 (1993). This process begins with the language of the statute. Bailey v. United States, 516 U.S......
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    ...to adhere to the plain meaning of the statute and give meaning to every word in the statutory provision. See, e.g., Negonsott v. Samuels, 507 U.S. 99, 104, 113 S.Ct. 1119, 122 L.Ed.2d 457 (1993); United States v. Ron Pair Enter., Inc., 489 U.S. 235, 243, 109 S.Ct. 1026, 103 L.Ed.2d 290 (198......
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248 cases
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    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Bankruptcy Courts Ninth Circuit
    • 5 de Agosto de 1994
    ...of statutory construction that a court must give effect, if possible, to every clause and word of a statute. Negonsott v. Samuels, 507 U.S. 99, ----, 113 S.Ct. 1119, 1123, 122 L.Ed.2d 457 (1993). When the statutory scheme is coherent and consistent, there generally is no need for a court to......
  • 209 B.R. 98 (Bkrtcy.E.D.Tenn. 1997), 97-30172, In re Patton
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Bankruptcy Courts Sixth Circuit
    • 29 de Maio de 1997
    ...II When construing the provisions of a statute, it is the duty of the judiciary to effectuate the will of Congress. Negonsott v. Samuels, 507 U.S. 99, 103-04, 113 S.Ct. 1119, 1122, 122 L.Ed.2d 457 (1993). This process begins with the language of the statute. Bailey v. United States, 516 U.S......
  • 257 B.R. 884 (8th Cir.BAP (Mo.) 2001), 00-6076, In re Family Snacks, Inc.
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    • Federal Cases United States Bankruptcy Courts Eighth Circuit
    • 31 de Janeiro de 2001
    ...to adhere to the plain meaning of the statute and give meaning to every word in the statutory provision. See, e.g., Negonsott v. Samuels, 507 U.S. 99, 104, 113 S.Ct. 1119, 122 L.Ed.2d 457 (1993); United States v. Ron Pair Enter., Inc., 489 U.S. 235, 243, 109 S.Ct. 1026, 103 L.Ed.2d 290 (198......
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