Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Lamere v. Superior Court (Cal. Ct. App. - Aug. 8, 2005)

It's fairly rare for the Court of Appeal to expressly state in a published opinion that counsel wrote excellent briefs. So this case is worth mention for that reason alone. The opinion by Justice Richli "acknowledge[s] the excellence of the briefs submitted by plaintiffs," who were represented by Brian Unitt and Jonathan Velie. Kudos, guys.

Mind you, in the same sentence, the Court of Appeal also recognized the fine briefs also filed by counsel for defendants: Alex Baghdassarian, James Kawahara, and John Schumacher. But only in a parenthetical. And that seemed a bit forced -- like the Court of Appeal was just trying to be fair. Still, good job.

The opinion itself is also worth reading. Not that concerns something about which parties constantly litigate, admittedly. The question here is whether the plaintiffs have a state court remedy when the Pechanga Band of Indians (which has recently started to get some real money from its casino) started to boot people out of the tribe (including plaintiffs) -- and hence deprive them of their share of the casino proceeds -- for allegedly not being "real" members of the Tribe (i.e., with sufficiently unambiguous ancestry). Not exactly something that you're going to litigate every day. But the Court of Appeals calls this an "easy" dispute, albeit one with a result that (Justice Richli admits) is perhaps a bit disturbing. No state court remedy for you, plaintiffs. And since the Pechanga Band doesn't have tribal court, that means no remedy at all.

Sorry about that. Guess you'll just have to resort to self-help. With guns, presumably. Or, preferably, with fists. Or, best of all, with nasty words (e.g., "participation in the political process"). That's your only recourse.

There's a great discussion of tribal sovereign immunity and various jurisdictional issues in the opinion. So an interesting read about the merits. Plus, definitely don't skip over footnote 2. You definitely don't want to miss the use of the phrase "Eurocentric mores". Not a term that you'll see used every day. Indeed, it's a term that's never before been used in a judicial opinion. Or even a law review article. I checked.

Cool. "Eurocentric mores". I'm gonna use that one every chance I get.