Representing Mississippi — Tribal Jurisdiction

The States of Mississippi, Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, and Washington
Type of Engagement
Subject Matter
Tribal Jurisdiction
U.S. Supreme Court

The Challenge

Representing six states as amici before the United States Supreme Court in an important matter concerning the sovereign authority of tribal courts.

The Engagement

A young Choctaw tribe member was molested by his supervisor at a Dollar General store. The question whether the resulting suit could be heard in tribal court reached the Supreme Court. Stris & Maher was retained by the State of Mississippi to prepare and file an amicus brief supporting the tribe’s position that the dispute should be adjudicated in tribal court. Several states and various industry groups had already filed amicus briefs opposing tribal jurisdiction. Nonetheless, Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, and Washington joined our brief. That was the first time that any state, let alone six, formally supported a finding of tribal jurisdiction in a major Supreme Court case.

The Result

The jurisdiction of the tribal courts to hear the dispute was affirmed by the Supreme Court.

Key Case Materials

Opinion (June 23, 2016)

Our Amicus Brief (October 22, 2015)

Media Coverage

The U.S. Supreme Court Leaves Tribal Authority Intact (The Atlantic, June 23, 2016)

U.S. top court split 4-4 over in Native American tribal court dispute (Reuters, June 23, 2016)

Dollar General Ruling Shows New Justice Crucial For Tribes (Law360, June 23, 2016) (subscription required)

Dollar General To Face Claims In Tribal Court After Supreme Court Deadlocks (Lexis Legal News, June 23, 2016) (subscription required)

Justices' Tie Means Dollar General Can't Dodge Tribal Court (Law360, June 23, 2016) (subscription required)