Santa Ynez Band of Mission Indians v. Torres, No. CV 01-01738 SVW AIJX.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
Writing for the CourtWilson
Citation262 F.Supp.2d 1038
PartiesSANTA YENEZ BAND OF MISSION INDIANS, Plaintiff, v. Vince TORRES, Defendant. Gale A. Norton, Secretary Interior; Virgil Townsend, Agency. Superintendent, Bureau of Indian Affairs; and the United States af America, Real Parties in Interest.
Docket NumberNo. CV 01-01738 SVW AIJX.
Decision Date29 August 2002
262 F.Supp.2d 1038
SANTA YENEZ BAND OF MISSION INDIANS, Plaintiff,
v.
Vince TORRES, Defendant.
Gale A. Norton, Secretary Interior; Virgil Townsend, Agency. Superintendent, Bureau of Indian Affairs; and the United States af America, Real Parties in Interest.
No. CV 01-01738 SVW AIJX.
United States District Court, C.D. California.
August 29, 2002.

Page 1039

Lawrence R. Stidham, Brena L. Tomaras, Joanne Willis Newton, Laura Y. Miranda, California Indian Legal Services, Escondido, for Plaintiffs.

William Van Doren, William Van Doren Law Offices, Santa Maria, for Defendants.

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

WILSON, District Judge.


I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Santa Ynez Band of Mission Indians (the "Tribe") seeks an order requiring

Page 1040

the removal and permanent exclusion by the United States Marshal of Defendant Vince Torres ("Torres") and all of his personal property from the Santa Ynez Reservation (the "Reservation"). Plaintiff has filed a motion for summary judgment, alleging that there are no material issues of fact in dispute and Plaintiff is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

As set forth below, Plaintiffs motion for summary judgment is DENIED.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Mission Indians of the Santa Ynez Reservation, California is a federally-recognized Indian tribe. See 65 F.R. 13298 (2000). Other than that independently-identifiable piece of information, Plaintiff has failed to submit admissible evidence from which this Court could determine the factual genesis of this case. Stapled to the back of Plaintiffs summary judgment motion are various pieces of paper. Unfortunately, there is not a single declaration in the record identifying what any of those documents actually are. Nevertheless, the Court will presume that Plaintiff will be able to supplement the record with the necessary declarations, and for the purposes of the present analysis, will assume the facts as they are alleged to be true.

The Tribe claims to have passed a resolution on May 9, 2000 that banned Defendant Torres from the Santa Ynez Reservation. In looking at the documents submitted by Plaintiff, there is one document dated August 11, 2000, indicating a ballot on the "Ban of Vince Torres," with 70 approval votes, 29 disapproval votes, and 2 abstentions. There is another document dated June 29, 2001, entitled "Resolution # 832" indicating that a "Mr. Vincent Torres is not a member of the Band." There is a third document dated May 9, 2000, entitled "Resolution #831" indicating that "the Santa Ynez Band of Mission Indian hereby authorizes the banning of Mr.Vince Torres from the santa Yenz indian Reservation." This document also indicates avote of 70 in favor, 29 opposed, and 2 abstaining, although it is dated over three moths prior to the other document indicating a vote of the same tally. Other than what appears to be copy of part of the Federal Register, no other pertinent documents are provided in Plaintiff's briefs. Nonetheless, notwithstanding the inconsistent dates between the first and third documents, this evidence, once properly identified, would indicate to the Court that Defendant Torres was barred form the Reservation by a majority vote of the General Council.

In response, Defendant Torres has submitted a declaration indicating that, prior to the passage of Resolution #831, he had entered into a contract with the Tribe t.o do certain construction and remedial work on the Reservation. He claims that, as a general contractor, he has been asked by members of the Tribe to do construction work on their individual properties, and he has contracts on which work is currently being done. He also asserts that he was never made aware of Resolution # 831, which he claims was intended to banish him from the Reservation.

As none of Plaintiffs documents are identified by witness declaration, they are not properly admitted as evidence, and cannot at this point be considered for purposes of this motion for summary judgment. Thus, based on the lack of admissible evidence submitted by Plaintiff alone, there is no basis for the Court to grant summary judgment. Regardless, the Court feels the parties would benefit from an analysis of the legal issues in this case, assuming that Plaintiff will be able to submit admissible evidence to verify the allegations made in its briefs.

Page 1041

III. DISCUSSIONS

A. Summary Judgment Standards

Rule 56(c) requires summary judgment for the moving party when the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Tarin v. County of Los Angeles, 123 F.3d 1259, 1263 (9th Cir.1997). "A material issue of fact is one that affects the outcome of the litigation and requires a trial to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth." SEC v. Seaboard Corp., 677 F.2d 1301, 1306 (9th Cir.1982).

The moving party bears the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). That burden may be met by "`showing'— that is, pointing out to the district court— that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Id. at 325,106 S.Ct. at 2554. Once the moving party has met its initial burden, Rule 56(e) requires the nonmoving party to go beyond the pleadings and identify specific facts that show a genuine issue for trial. See id. at 323-34, 106 S.Ct. at 2553; Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).

Only genuine disputes—where the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party— over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 248, 106 S.Ct. at 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202; see also Arpin v. Santa Clara Valley Transp. Agency, 261 F.3d 912, 919 (9th Cir.2001) (the nonmoving party must offer specific evidence from which a reasonable jury could return a verdict in its favor).

B. Federal Jurisdiction

Plaintiff asserts that this Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 28 U.S.C. § 1362. The language of section 1362 states, "The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions, brought by any Indian tribe .. . wherein the matter in controversy arises under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." The language "arises under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States" is identical to that of section 1331. In this regard, in order to invoke federal jurisdiction, Plaintiff has to assert a federal question. See Gila River Indian Cmty. v. Henningson, Durham & Richardson, 626 F.2d 708, 712 (9th Cir. 1980).

In Chilkat Indian Village v. Johnson, 870 F.2d 1469 (9th Cir.1989), the Ninth Circuit held that, in suits seeking to enforce tribal ordinances against non-members, where there are federal issues as to the Indian tribe's power to enact and enforce its ordinance, the case arises under federal law for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1362. Id. at 1475. The court in Chilkat Village found that there were disputed issues surrounding the Village's allegations of sovereign power, as a matter of federal statute and federal common law, to enforce its ordinance against non-members. Relying on the Supreme Court holding in Oneida Indian Nation v. County of Oneida, 414 U.S. 661, 94 S.Ct. 772, 39 L.Ed.2d 73 (1974), the court stated the following:

It would be too technical, we believe, to focus only on the ultimate ordinance, which is not federal, and to ignore the necessity for the Village to prove its disputed federal power to enact and apply it to those outside of its community. We conclude, therefore, that the Village's

Page 1042

claim against [the non-member defendants] arises under federal law. Chilkat Village, 870 F.2d at 1475.

However, the court went on to note that "the federal courts do not stand ready to entertain every case arising under a tribal ordinance, when there is no inherent and disputed federal question about the tribe's power to enact it.... It is safe to say, therefore, that every claim based upon a tribal ordinance does not, ipso facto, arise under federal law." Id. at 1476.

Here, the Tribe is claiming an inherent and exclusive power to exclude non-members from its tribal territory. Much like the plaintiffs assertion of "reserved powers" in Chilkat Village, the Tribe's inherent powers must necessarily arise under federal law, since federal law defines the outer boundaries of an Indian tribe's power over non-Indians. See National Farmers Union Ins. Cos. v. Crow Tribe, 471 U.S. 845, 851-52,105 S.Ct. 2447, 2451-52, 85 L.Ed.2d 818 (1985). Therefore, the Tribe's claim arises under federal law, and this Court has proper jurisdiction to adjudicate this matter. See Chilkat Village, 870 F.2d at 1475; Native Village of Tyonek v. Puckett, 957 F.2d 631, 634 (9th Cir.1992).

C. Tribe's Power to Exclude Non-Members

The Tribe asserts that it has an inherent and exclusive authority to exclude non-members from the Reservation. In support of this argument, the Tribe cites to a litany of Supreme Court decisions dating back to the 1800s. See Worcester v. Georgia, 31 U.S. (6 Pet.) 515, 559, 8 L.Ed. 483 (1832); Washington v. Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation, 447 U.S. 134, 153, 100 S.Ct. 2069, 2081, 65 L.Ed.2d 10 (1980); Merrion v. Jicarilla Apache Tribe, 455 U.S. 130, 139, 102 S.Ct. 894, 902, 71 L.Ed.2d 21 (1982). While the Court recognizes that the Tribe does possess the power to exclude non-members from the Reservation, such power only exists "[i]n the absence of treaty provisions or congressional pronouncements to the contrary." Quechan Tribe of...

To continue reading

Request your trial
1 practice notes
  • Munoz v. Barona Band of Mission Indians, Case No. 17-cv-2092-BAS-AGS
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of California
    • March 8, 2018
    ...maintaining the sovereign status of a tribe to create and maintain its own government. Santa Ynez Band of Mission Indians v. Torres, 262 F. Supp. 2d 1038, 1044 (C.D. Cal. 2002) (citing Poodry v. Tonawanda Band of Seneca Indians, 85 F.3d 874, 882-83 (2d Cir. 1996). Congress struck a balance ......
1 cases
  • Munoz v. Barona Band of Mission Indians, Case No. 17-cv-2092-BAS-AGS
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of California
    • March 8, 2018
    ...maintaining the sovereign status of a tribe to create and maintain its own government. Santa Ynez Band of Mission Indians v. Torres, 262 F. Supp. 2d 1038, 1044 (C.D. Cal. 2002) (citing Poodry v. Tonawanda Band of Seneca Indians, 85 F.3d 874, 882-83 (2d Cir. 1996). Congress struck a balance ......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT