Our practice areas within the context of Indian law include:
Experience and Sample Engagements:
- Tribal Government
General Counsel - Providing legal guidance to tribal administrators, CFOs, casino management, gaming commissions and other tribal officials.
Tribal Council Resolutions -Drafting tribal council resolutions.
Constitutions, Ordinances and Codes - Drafting tribal constitutions, ordinances, codes and regulatory guidelines in all areas of tribal law. Examples include tribal LLC codes, secured transactions codes, liquor ordinances, tax codes, gaming ordinance, and Revenue Allocation Plans.
Corporate Charters, Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws – Drafting corporate charters, articles of incorporation and bylaws for tribal entities, including Section 17 Corporations.
Tribal Agency Formation and Advice - Forming tribal entities, agencies, and departments, and providing ongoing legal guidance under applicable law.
Internal Tribal Operating Guidelines – Drafting guidelines for internal tribal governmental use, including guidelines on creating dedicated funds, document retention, use of force, distributing financial and other assistance, personnel issues, financial approval processes, and other internal management matters. Focus on ensuring compliance with applicable law.
- Tribal Business
Construction contracts. Representing tribal owners in construction contract negotiation and drafting. (focus on unique situations requiring special material purchase and delivery procedures).
Management agreements – Negotiating and drafting casino management agreements.
JV operating agreements – Advising clients regarding structure of JVs and drafting JV operating agreements.
Employment agreements – Drafting employment agreements for managerial and tribal governmental positions.
Equipment leases – Negotiating and drafting equipment lease agreements.
Distribution agreements - Negotiating and drafting exclusive distribution agreement.
Owner-consultant agreements – Negotiating and drafting owner-consultant agreements.
Real estate leases – Drafting lease agreements relating to Indian lands.
- Blue Lake Rancheria v. U.S. Internal Revenue Service, 653 F.3d 1112 (9th Cir. 2011)
Won reversal at the Ninth Circuit for the Blue Lake Rancheria, seeking a refund of Federal Unemployment Tax Act taxes paid by a tribally-owned employee leasing company. The Ninth Circuit held that the tribal company was the common-law employer of the workers at issue, and therefore that it was entitled to the same tax treatment Congress granted to tribal governments.
- Cachil Dehe Band of Wintun Indians of the Colusa Indian Community v. California, 618 F.3d 1066 (9th Cir. 2010)
successfully established that under the 1999 California Compacts, a pool of 40,201 slot
machine licenses were then available to Tribes, rather than the 32,151 that State
of California claimed existed. The Ninth Circuit also affirmed the District Court's
authority to order the State to conduct a license draw. Eastern Band of Cherokee, National Congress of
American Indians, National Indian Gaming Association, United South and Eastern
Tribes, Arizona Indian Gaming Association, and Poarch Band of Creek Indians of
Alabama. Private, for-profit gaming interest sued the Governor of North Carolina seeking to void the Eastern Band of Cherokee's gaming compact. The State appellate court
reversed the trial court, upheld the Tribe's Compact, and found that the trial court had
erred in concluding that IGRA precluded North Carolina from granting the Tribe exclusive Class III gaming rights.
- Jeffredo v. Macarro, 590 F.3d 751 (9th Cir. 2009)
Successfully represented the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians and Tribal Officials in Indian Civil Rights Act case challenging Tribal authority over internal membership determinations.
- Havasupai Tribe v. Arizona Bd. Of Regents, 220 Ariz. 214 (2008)
Represented individual members of the Havasupai Tribe in an action against the University of Arizona for having obtained tribal members’ blood samples ostensibly for a diabetes study, but then misusing the samples for other studies -- including studies that challenged the Tribe's creation story -- and published the results of those studies, all without the Tribal members' informed consent. The trial court had granted summary judgment to the University. We won a reversal on appeal, and the case thereafter settled. The New York Times reported on April 21, 2010, that "The Havasupai settlement appears to be the first payment to individuals who said their DNA was misused, several legal experts said, and came after the university spent $1.7 million fighting lawsuits by tribe members."
- San Pasqual Band v. California, 295 Fed. Appx. 880 (9th Cir. 2008)
Wrote an amicus brief for the California Nations Indian Gaming Association supporting San Pasqual Band's suit challenging the State's calculation of the number of available slot machine license under the 1999 Compacts. Won reversal at the Ninth Circuit.
- San Manuel v. N.L.R.B., 475 F.3d 1306 (D.C. Cir. 2007)
Represented the San Manuel Band in this case in which the NLRB reversed decades of its own precedent and applied the NLRA to a tribal enterprise. This decision by the D.C. Circuit has come under significant criticism.
- In re: Sonoma County Fire Chief, 228 Fed. Appx. 671 (9th Cir. 2007)
- Friends of Sierra R.R. v. Tuolumne Park and Recreation Dist., 147 Cal. App. 4th 643 (2007)
- Maine v. Johnson, 498 F.3d 37 (1st Cir. 2007)
- Colorado River Indian Tribes v. National Indian Gaming Commission, 466 F.3d 134 (D.C. Cir. 2006); 383 F. Supp. 2d 123 (D. D.C. 2005)
- Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Superior Court, 40 Cal. 4th 239 (2006)
- Lobo Gaming, Inc. v. Pit River Tribe, 2002 WL 922136, cert. denied 537 U.S. 1190 (2003)
- Shoshone Indian Tribe of the Wind River Reservation v. United States, 58 Fed. Cl. 542 (Ct. Cl. 2003)
- Mayes v. Cherokee Nation, 294 B.R. 145 (10th Cir. BAP 2003)
- Proschold v. United States, 90 Fed. Appx. 516 (9th Cir. 2004); 244 F. Supp. 2d (N.D. Cal. 2002)
- Artichoke Joe’s v. Norton, 353 F.3d 712 (9th Cir. 2003); 216 F. Supp. 2d 1084 (E.D. Cal. 2002)
- Chickasaw Nation v. United States, 534 U.S. 84 (2001)
- C&L Enterprises, Inc. v. Citizen Band Potawatomi Indian Tribe of Oklahoma, (2001)
- United States v. 162 Megamania Gambling Devices, 231 F.3d 713 (10th Cir. 2000)
- Turner v. Martire, 82 Cal. App. 4th 1042 (2000)
- Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Intern. Union v. Davis, 21 Cal. 4th 585 (1999)
- Confederated Tribes & Bands of Yakama Indian Nation v. Locke, 176 F.3d 467 (9th Cir. 1999)
- Pueblo of Santa Ana v. Kelly, 104 F.3d 1546 (10th Cir. 1997); 32 F. Supp. 1284 (D. NM 1996)
- Adams v. Moapa Band of Paiute Indians, 991 F. Supp. 1218 (D. NV 1997)
- Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakima Indian Nation v. Lowry, 968 F. Supp. 531 (E.D. Wash. 1997)
- U.S. Dept. of Interior v. South Dakota, 519 U.S. 919 (1996)
- Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44 (1996)
- Rumsey Indian Rancheria of Wintun Indians v. Pete Wilson, 99 F.3d 321 (9th Cir. 1996); 64 F.3d 1250 (9th Cir. 1994); 112 F. Supp. 1185 (E.D. Cal. 2000); 39 F. Supp. 1227 (E.D. Cal. 1998)
- Western Telcon, Inc. v. California State Lottery, 13 Cal. 4th 475 (1996)
- Temecula Band of Luiseno Indians v. Rancho California Water District, 43 Cal. App. 4th 425 (1996)
- Ysleta del Sur Pueblo v. State of Tex., 36 F.3d 1325 (5th Cir. 1994)
- Spokane Tribe of Indians v. Washington State, 28 F.3d 991 (9th Cir. 1994)
- Cabazon Band of Mission Indians v. National Indian Gaming Comm'n, 14 F.3d 633 (D.C. Cir. 1994); 827 F. Supp. 26 (D. D.C. 1993)
- Larson v. Neimi, 9 F.3d 397 (9th Cir. 1993)
State sales and use tax, property tax, fuel tax, cigarette tax – Advising Indian tribes and their non-tribal business partners on best practices in structuring projects and on the application of various state taxes to their projects.
Corporate structuring and tax planning – Advising clients on how to structure their corporate entities and projects to take advantage of state and federal tax exemptions.
Tribal Trust Accounts - Advising on the taxation of distributions from tribal trust accounts.
Federal Leasing Regulations - Advising on the applicability of restrictions on state taxation relating to leased Indian lands.
Game Classification - Providing legal guidance on game classification issues.
Gaming Ordinances - Drafting gaming ordinances and guidelines.
Compact Negotiation - Negotiating tribal-state gaming compacts.
- Tribal Lands
Carcieri Issues - Drafting briefs relating to eligibility for trust under Carcieri.
BIA and NIGC - Applying for Indian lands classification opinions.
- State Regulatory Compliance
California Alcoholic Beverage Control Board – Representing clients in various stages of their dealings with the Board, including initial applications and appeals of adverse decisions.
California Bureau of Gambling Control – Representation in matters relating the Bureau’s authority to require findings of suitability.
South Dakota Department of Revenue and Regulation – Representing a client in a dispute with the Department regarding the State’s ability to tax income generated from activities on land leased from an Indian tribe.
- Federal Regulatory Compliance
Internal Revenue Code – Drafting internal guidelines to satisfy the requirements of the IRS’s “general welfare doctrine” safe harbors.
Indian Gaming Regulatory Act – Providing guidance on compliance with the federal statute and applicable regulations. Drafting comments to the National Indian Gaming Commission on proposed regulatory changes.
- Campaign Finance & Lobbying Law
Devising exit strategy for withdrawal from DOD contracts.
Drafting joint statements with local jurisdictions regarding matters such as gaming and emergency services.