Sunday, January 09, 2005

United States v. Washington (9th Cir. - January 6, 2005)

Here's another close (and split) case about arcane procedural issues that's decided by the Bea/Paez/Tashima panel that heard cases in Seattle during May. As in Knievel v. ESPN, Judge Bea is a 2-1 loser.

This time the procedural dispute is about whether a pretty unique event -- post-judgment federal recognition of a particular tribe -- qualifies as an "extraordinary circumstance" that justifies a Rule 60(b)(6) motion in this particular case. Both Tashima and Bea make good points, though I'm inclined to think that Tashima may have the very, very slight better of the argument.

Regardless of the outcome, the parties certainly have had an opportunity to be heard regarding the extent of the rights of Indian tribes to fish at their "usual and accustomed grounds" in Washington under the Treaty of Point Elliott of 1855: the docket sheet in the district court has over 17,500 entries. Yikes.