533 U.S. 353 (2001), 99-1994, Nevada v. Hicks

Docket Nº:No. 99-1994
Citation:533 U.S. 353, 121 S.Ct. 2304, 150 L.Ed.2d 398, 69 U.S.L.W. 4528
Party Name:NEVADA et al. v. HICKS et al.
Case Date:June 25, 2001
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 353

533 U.S. 353 (2001)

121 S.Ct. 2304, 150 L.Ed.2d 398, 69 U.S.L.W. 4528

NEVADA et al.

v.

HICKS et al.

No. 99-1994

United States Supreme Court

June 25, 2001

Argued March 21, 2001

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

Respondent Hicks is a member of the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribes of western Nevada and lives on the Tribes' reservation. After petitioner state game wardens executed state-court and tribal-court search warrants to search Hicks's home for evidence of an off-reservation crime, he filed suit in the Tribal Court against, inter alios, the wardens in their individual capacities and petitioner Nevada, alleging trespass, abuse of process, and violation of constitutional rights remediable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Tribal Court held that it had jurisdiction over the tribal tort and federal civil rights claims, and the Tribal Appeals Court affirmed. Petitioners then sought, in Federal District Court, a declaratory judgment that the Tribal Court lacked jurisdiction over the claims. The District Court granted respondents summary judgment on that issue and held that the wardens would have to exhaust their qualified immunity claims in the Tribal Court. In affirming, the Ninth Circuit concluded that the fact that Hicks's home is on tribe-owned reservation land is sufficient to support tribal jurisdiction over civil claims against nonmembers arising from their activities on that land.

Held:

1. The Tribal Court did not have jurisdiction to adjudicate the wardens' alleged tortious conduct in executing a search warrant for an off-reservation crime. Pp. 357-366.

(a) As to nonmembers, a tribal court's inherent adjudicatory authority is at most as broad as the tribe's regulatory authority. Strate v. A-1 Contractors, 520 U.S. 438, 453. Pp. 357-358.

(b) The rule that, where nonmembers are concerned, "the exercise of tribal power beyond what is necessary to protect tribal self-government or to control internal relations . . . cannot survive without express congressional delegation," Montana v. United States, 450 U.S. 544, 564, applies to both Indian and non-Indian land. The land's ownership status is only one factor to be considered, and while that factor may sometimes be dispositive, tribal ownership is not alone enough to support regulatory jurisdiction over nonmembers. Pp. 358-360.

(c) Tribal authority to regulate state officers in executing process related to the off-reservation violation of state laws is not essential to tribal self-government or internal relations. The State's interest in

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executing process is considerable, and it no more impairs the Tribes' self-government than federal enforcement of federal law impairs state government. The State's interest is not diminished because this suit is against officials in their individual capacities. Pp. 360-365.

(d) Congress has not stripped the States of their inherent jurisdiction on reservations with regard to off-reservation violations of state law. The federal statutory scheme neither prescribes nor suggests that state officers cannot enter a reservation to investigate or prosecute such violations. Pp. 365-366.

2. The Tribal Court had no jurisdiction over the § 1983 claims. Tribal courts are not courts of "general jurisdiction." The historical and constitutional assumption of concurrent state-court jurisdiction over cases involving federal statutes is missing with respect to tribal courts, and their inherent adjudicative jurisdiction over nonmembers is at most only as broad as their legislative jurisdiction. Congress has not purported to grant tribal courts jurisdiction over § 1983 claims, and such jurisdiction would create serious anomalies under 28 U.S.C. § 1441. Pp. 366-369.

3. Petitioners were not required to exhaust their claims in the Tribal Court before bringing them in the Federal District Court. Because the rule that tribal courts lack jurisdiction over state officials for causes of action relating to their performance of official duties is clear, adherence to the tribal exhaustion requirement would serve no purpose other than delay and is therefore unnecessary. P. 369.

4. Various arguments to the contrary lack merit. Pp. 370-375.

196 F.3d 1020, reversed and remanded.

Scalia, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and Kennedy, Souter, Thomas, and Ginsburg, JJ., joined. Souter, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which Kennedy and Thomas, JJ., joined, post, p. 375. Ginsburg, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 386. O'Connor, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which Stevens and Breyer, JJ., joined, post, p. 387. Stevens, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which Breyer, J., joined, post, p. 401.

C. Wayne Howle, Senior Deputy Attorney General of Nevada, argued the cause for petitioners. With him on the briefs were Frankie Sue Del Papa, Attorney General, Paul G. Taggart, Deputy Attorney General, and Jeffrey S. Sutton.

S. James Anaya argued the cause for respondents and filed a brief for respondent Hicks. Kim Jerome Gottschalk

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and Melody McCoy filed a brief for respondents Tribal Court in and for the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribes et al.

Barbara McDowell argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae urging affirmance. With her on the brief were former Solicitor General Waxman, Assistant Attorney General Schiffer, Deputy Solicitor General Kneedler, David C. Shilton, and William B. Lazarus. [*]

Justice Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case presents the question whether a tribal court may assert jurisdiction over civil claims against state officials who entered tribal land to execute a search warrant against a tribe member suspected of having violated state law outside the reservation.

I

Respondent Hicks[1] is one of about 900 members of the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribes of western Nevada. He resides

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on the Tribes' reservation of approximately 8,000 acres, established by federal statute in 1908, ch. 53, 35 Stat. 85. In 1990 Hicks came under suspicion of having killed, off the reservation, a California bighorn sheep, a gross misdemeanor under Nevada law, see Nev. Rev. Stat. § 501.376(1999). A state game warden obtained from state court a search warrant "SUBJECT TO OBTAINING APPROVAL FROM THE FALLON TRIBAL COURT IN AND FOR THE FALLON PAIUTE-SHOSHONE TRIBES." According to the issuing judge, this tribal-court authorization was necessary because "[t]his Court has no jurisdiction on the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Indian Reservation." App. G to Pet. for Cert. 1. A search warrant was obtained from the tribal court, and the warden, accompanied by a tribal police officer, searched respondent's yard, uncovering only the head of a Rocky Mountain bighorn, a different (and unprotected) species of sheep.

Approximately one year later, a tribal police officer reported to the warden that he had observed two mounted bighorn sheep heads in respondent's home. The warden again obtained a search warrant from state court; though this warrant did not explicitly require permission from the Tribes, see App. F to Pet. for Cert. 2, a tribal-court warrant was nonetheless secured, and respondent's home was again (unsuccessfully) searched by three wardens and additional tribal officers.

Respondent, claiming that his sheep heads had been damaged, and that the second search exceeded the bounds of the warrant, brought suit against the Tribal Judge, the tribal officers, the state wardens in their individual and official capacities, and the State of Nevada in the Tribal Court in and for the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribes. (His claims against all defendants except the state wardens and the State of Nevada were dismissed by directed verdict and are not at issue here.) Respondent's causes of action included trespass to land and chattels, abuse of process, and violation of civil

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rights—specifically, denial of equal protection, denial of due process, and unreasonable search and seizure, each remediable under Rev. Stat. § 1979, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See App. 8-21, 25-29. Respondent later voluntarily dismissed his case against the State and against the state officials in their official capacities, leaving only his suit against those officials in their individual capacities. See id., at 32-35.

The Tribal Court held that it had jurisdiction over the claims, a holding affirmed by the Tribal Appeals Court. The state officials and Nevada then filed an action in Federal District Court seeking a declaratory judgment that the Tribal Court lacked jurisdiction. The District Court granted summary judgment to respondent on the issue of jurisdiction, and also held that the state officials would have to exhaust any claims of qualified immunity in the tribal court. The Ninth Circuit affirmed, concluding that the fact that respondent's home is located on tribe-owned land within the reservation is sufficient to support tribal jurisdiction over civil claims against nonmembers arising from their activities on that land. 196 F.3d 1020 (1999). We granted certiorari, 531 U.S. 923 (2000).

II

In this case, which involves claims brought under both tribal and federal law, it is necessary to determine, as to the former, whether the Tribal Court in and for the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribes has jurisdiction to adjudicate the alleged tortious conduct of state wardens executing a search warrant for evidence of an off-reservation crime; and, as to the latter, whether the Tribal Court has jurisdiction over claims brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. We address the former question first.

A

The principle of Indian law central to this aspect...

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