Representing Mississippi — Tribal Jurisdiction

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.