Langley v. Ryder, Civ. A. No. 85-0030.

CourtU.S. District Court — Western District of Louisiana
Writing for the CourtAlfred R. Ryder, Dist. Atty., 33rd Judicial Dist., Oberlin, La., for defendants
Citation602 F. Supp. 335
PartiesBertney LANGLEY, et al v. Alfred R. RYDER, District Attorney of 33rd Judicial District, Allen Parish, Louisiana; et al.
Decision Date15 March 1985
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 85-0030.

602 F. Supp. 335

Bertney LANGLEY, et al
v.
Alfred R. RYDER, District Attorney of 33rd Judicial District, Allen Parish, Louisiana; et al.

Civ. A. No. 85-0030.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division.

February 12, 1985.

As Amended March 15, 1985.


602 F. Supp. 336
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
602 F. Supp. 337
Carroll L. Spell, Lafayette, La., for plaintiffs

Alfred R. Ryder, Dist. Atty., 33rd Judicial Dist., Oberlin, La., for defendants.

Henry J. Sockbeson, Native American Rights Fund, Washington, D.C., for intervenor.

OPINION

VERON, District Judge.

The plaintiffs in this suit are certain members of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana who have been charged with state law offenses allegedly committed on federal land held in trust for the Tribe. The plaintiffs seek an injunction restraining Allen Parish officials from proceeding with these charges in state court. They contend that Louisiana lacks jurisdiction to apply state criminal law to offenses committed by Indians on Indian territory. This matter came before the Court on January 18, 1985 on the plaintiffs' petition for a preliminary injunction. This narrative opinion will serve as the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52(a).

BACKGROUND

On August 30, 1984, a group claiming to be the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana initiated a civil action seeking declaratory and injunctive relief from this Court. See Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana v. State of Louisiana, et al., Civil Action No. 84-2371-LC, Western District of Louisiana, Lake Charles Division. The plaintiffs in that suit prayed for an injunction restraining state officials from applying state licensing and taxation laws to the Tribe's business operations, such as bingo, gaming and sales of gasoline, cigarettes, alcoholic beverages and food. The Tribe also sought a declaratory judgment delineating the scope of permissible state regulation of Indian activity on tribal territory. A hearing was held on August 30, 1984 but no ruling was made at that time because the plaintiff withdrew its application for temporary and preliminary injunctive relief. The application for a permanent injunction and for declaratory relief was referred to a trial on the merits, to be held at a later unspecified date. Subsequently, on January 16, 1985, the case was dismissed by the Clerk pursuant to Rule 14 of the Local Rules of the Western District of Louisiana, which provides for dismissal of actions for lack of prosecution. Thus, the claims for relief asserted in that suit are no longer before the Court.

In the meantime, plaintiffs Bertney Langley, Jack LeBlanc, Sharon Doise, Leonard Battise, Michael Pierotti, Patrick LeBlanc, Burl Sonnier, Wayne Doise and Debra Sonnier were arrested by Allen Parish Sheriff's Deputies and charged with conducting gambling operations as a business in violation of La.R.S. 14:90. These plaintiffs had allegedly been operating blackjack, pull-tab, roulette wheels and similar gambling games and had also been conducting a bingo game on tribal territory without obtaining a license under the Louisiana Charitable Raffles, Bingo and Keno Licensing Law, La.R.S. 33:4861.1, et seq. Bingo constitutes gambling under state criminal law but the licensing law grants immunity from prosecution to those who obtain a lawful license. See La.R.S. 33:4861.15(3). Plaintiff Lee David Poncho was arrested and charged with aggravated battery. Plaintiff Hilton Langley was arrested and charged with attempted second degree murder. As of January 18, 1985, no indictments had been returned nor had any bills of information been filed on any of these charges. The plaintiffs arrested on gambling charges have moved to quash the arrest warrants in state court.

On January 4, 1985, all of the aforementioned plaintiffs filed a petition for injunctive relief in this Court, seeking to restrain Allen Parish officials from prosecuting the

602 F. Supp. 338
criminal charges. On that same date, the Court issued a temporary restraining order and set the matter for hearing. On January 16, 1985 an entity claiming to be the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana moved to intervene in the action in order to protect the Tribe's interests in the bingo operations. Shortly thereafter, several members of the Tribe filed an opposition to the petition for intervention, challenging the right of the intervenor to represent the Tribe and contending that the bingo operations were not officially authorized by the Tribe. A hearing was held on the petitions for preliminary injunctive relief and for intervention on January 18, 1985. The plaintiffs orally requested declaratory relief at this time. After hearing the arguments and evidence, the Court dissolved the temporary restraining order and took the matter under advisement to study the law and evidence

ISSUES

Basically, this suit presents four issues:

(1) Whether the Anti-Injunction Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2283, and the doctrine of equitable restraint mandate dismissal of this suit for injunctive and declaratory relief restraining state criminal proceedings;
(2) Whether the State of Louisiana has jurisdiction to apply its criminal law against conducting gambling, operations as a business La.R.S. 14:90, to gambling operations conducted by Indians on the land currently occupied by the Coushattas;
(3) Whether the State of Louisiana has jurisdiction to apply its criminal laws against aggravated battery, La.R.S. 14:34, and attempted second degree murder, La.R.S. 14:27 & 14:30.1, to offenses committed by Indians on the land currently occupied by the Coushattas; and
(4) Whether the "Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana" should be permitted to intervene in this action.

The Propriety of Injunctive and Declaratory Relief

Prior to the hearing on this matter, the Court requested the parties to address the question of whether the Anti-Injunction Act, codified as amended at 28 U.S.C. § 2283, and the doctrine of equitable restraint enunciated in Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 91 S.Ct. 746, 27 L.Ed.2d 669 (1971), should apply here. Section 2283 provides that a federal court may not enjoin a pending state judicial proceeding except where expressly authorized by Congress, where necessary in aid of the federal court's jurisdiction or in order to protect or effectuate a federal court order or judgment. If the barrier posed by section 2283 is cleared in regard to a pending state criminal proceeding, then Younger nonetheless mandates dismissal of the federal suit for injunctive relief unless the federal plaintiff demonstrates that his state-court defense will not adequately protect his federal rights because of bad faith, harassment, or other unusual circumstances. Younger, 401 U.S. at 53-54, 91 S.Ct. at 754-55; see generally Comment, Federal Injunctive Relief Against Pending State Civil Proceedings: Younger Days are Here Again, 44 La.L.Rev. 967 (1984). The Younger doctrine also bars declaratory relief when the federal plaintiff is raising issues that are intertwined with a pending state criminal proceeding brought against him. Samuels v. Mackell, 401 U.S. 66, 91 S.Ct. 764, 27 L.Ed.2d 688 (1971).

After a review of the evidence and the applicable law, the Court concludes that section 2283 does not apply here because state criminal proceedings were not in fact pending at the time the federal complaint was filed. In Dombrowski v. Pfister, 380 U.S. 479, 85 S.Ct. 1116, 14 L.Ed.2d 22 (1965), the Supreme Court held that state criminal proceedings were not pending within the intendment of section 2283 because the Louisiana grand jury had not been convened and indictments had not been obtained until after the filing of the federal complaint. 380 U.S. at 484 n. 2, 85 S.Ct. at 1119 n. 2. Here, arrest warrants had been issued and arrests made at the time of the filing of the federal complaint, but no bill of information or indictment had

602 F. Supp. 339
been filed in state court. State criminal proceedings therefore were not pending and section 2283 does not bar the injunctive relief sought here. See also La.Code Crim. Pro. art. 382 (criminal prosecution instituted by way of indictment, information, or affidavit); cf. Barancik v. Investors Funding Corp., 489 F.2d 933 (7th Cir.1973) (section 2283 does not bar issuance of the injunction if the state action was not pending when the federal injunction is sought, even though the state action commenced prior to federal action on the request; but cf. Roth v. Bank of the Commonwealth, 583 F.2d 527 (6th Cir.1978), cert. dismissed, 442 U.S. 925, 99 S.Ct. 2852, 61 L.Ed.2d 292 (1979) (contrary view).1

The Younger doctrine also does not apply here, although for a slightly different reason. In contrast to section 2283, the fact that state court proceedings were not pending at the filing of the federal complaint is not controlling under the Younger doctrine; the federal court must dismiss the complaint if state court proceedings commence before "any proceedings of substance on the merits" take place in the federal court. Hicks v. Miranda, 422 U.S. 332, 349, 95 S.Ct. 2281, 2291, 45 L.Ed.2d 223 (1975). The meaning of the phrase "any proceedings of substance on the merits" may be "a good deal less than apparent," 422 U.S. at 353 n. 1, 95 S.Ct. at 2294 n. 1 (Stewart, J., dissenting), but here there can be no question that Younger does not apply, as the District Attorney still has not commenced state criminal proceedings. And, in any event, the defendant Allen Parish officials have waived any objections that they might have under Younger. They would rather have this Court decide the jurisdictional issue as promptly as possible. Cf. Sosna v. Iowa, 419 U.S. 393, 396 n. 3, 95 S.Ct. 553, 556 n. 3, 42 L.Ed.2d 532 (1975) (the Court requested that the parties address the Younger issue but proceeded to the merits at the urging of both parties).

THE MERITS

THE AGGRAVATED BATTERY CHARGE AGAINST LEE DAVID PONCHO

The jurisdictional dispute over this offense is...

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8 practice notes
  • State v. Marek, No. 16178
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • April 17, 1987
    ...crime of assault resulting Page 1319 [112 Idaho 865] in serious bodily injuries as delineated in 18 U.S.C. § 1153. See Langley v. Ryder, 602 F.Supp. 335 (W.D.La.1985); United States v. Goings, 527 F.2d 183 (8th Cir.1975). As to the exclusiveness of federal jurisdiction over the enumerated o......
  • State v. Flint, No. 1
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Arizona
    • January 19, 1988
    ...the door on any subsequent cession of civil or criminal jurisdiction to the states under either statute. See also, Langley v. Ryder, 602 F.Supp. 335, 344 (W.D.La.), aff'd, 778 F.2d 1092 (5th 3 Article I of the treaty between the United States Government and the Navajo Indian Tribe also prov......
  • US v. Dakota, No. M84-246CA2.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District Michigan)
    • June 28, 1985
    ...activities and bingo operations in that case would be subject to federal prosecution if conducted in Indian country. Langley v. Ryder, 602 F.Supp. 335 (W.D.La. 3 Section 1955 of the Organized Crime Control Act applies only to an illegal gambling business which "is in violation of the law of......
  • Westin v. McDaniel, Civ. A. No. 91-75-3-MAC(DF).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Georgia
    • April 1, 1991
    ...n. 2. Logically, the same facts should yield the same conclusion under the Younger doctrine, a result indicated in Langley v. Ryder, 602 F.Supp. 335 (W.D. La.1985), where plaintiffs who had been charged with offenses against state law allegedly committed on federal land sought an injunction......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • State v. Marek, No. 16178
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • April 17, 1987
    ...crime of assault resulting Page 1319 [112 Idaho 865] in serious bodily injuries as delineated in 18 U.S.C. § 1153. See Langley v. Ryder, 602 F.Supp. 335 (W.D.La.1985); United States v. Goings, 527 F.2d 183 (8th Cir.1975). As to the exclusiveness of federal jurisdiction over the enumerated o......
  • State v. Flint, No. 1
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Arizona
    • January 19, 1988
    ...the door on any subsequent cession of civil or criminal jurisdiction to the states under either statute. See also, Langley v. Ryder, 602 F.Supp. 335, 344 (W.D.La.), aff'd, 778 F.2d 1092 (5th 3 Article I of the treaty between the United States Government and the Navajo Indian Tribe also prov......
  • US v. Dakota, No. M84-246CA2.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District Michigan)
    • June 28, 1985
    ...activities and bingo operations in that case would be subject to federal prosecution if conducted in Indian country. Langley v. Ryder, 602 F.Supp. 335 (W.D.La. 3 Section 1955 of the Organized Crime Control Act applies only to an illegal gambling business which "is in violation of the law of......
  • Westin v. McDaniel, Civ. A. No. 91-75-3-MAC(DF).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Georgia
    • April 1, 1991
    ...n. 2. Logically, the same facts should yield the same conclusion under the Younger doctrine, a result indicated in Langley v. Ryder, 602 F.Supp. 335 (W.D. La.1985), where plaintiffs who had been charged with offenses against state law allegedly committed on federal land sought an injunction......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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