Ute Indian Tribe Achieves Another Substantial Victory Against Roosevelt City Upholding Tribal Court Jurisdiction
Ft. Duchesne, UT February 20th, 2018
The Ute Indian Tribe achieved yet another substantial victory in federal court against Duchesne County and its subdivision, Roosevelt City, and their seemingly never-ending use of taxpayer money on unsupported suits and claims against the Ute Indian Tribe when the Federal Court in Utah dismissed Grant Charles v. Ute Indian Tribe, D. Utah case no. 2:17-cv-00321-DN.
Roosevelt City authorized Grant Charles, Roosevelt City Attorney, to bring the federal court suit against the Ute Indian Tribe after a non-Indian resident of the Uintah Basin, Ms. Richita Hackford, had filed a complaint in the Tribe’s Court objecting to Roosevelt City’s attempt to collect amounts owed by Ms. Hackford for unpaid utility bills. Before the Tribal Court had the opportunity to even address Ms. Hackford’s complaint, Roosevelt City decided to instead file an offensive and unsupported lawsuit against the Tribe seeking to challenge Tribal Court jurisdiction. Roosevelt City took this action even though it could have instead simply filed a motion to dismiss the Tribal Court suit, in which it would have explained the facts relevant to the tribal court claim (which then would have shown that the suit was without merit).
In its federal court suit, Roosevelt City itself noted that it would very likely prevail on its simple tribal court motion to dismiss, and the Tribe’s Court did grant the motion to dismiss. But even after the tribal court suit was dismissed, Roosevelt City continued to spend its taxpayers’ money to write briefs arguing that the federal court should enter an order that the Tribe’s Court did not have jurisdiction over the suit that the Tribe’s Court had already dismissed based upon the Tribal Court’s own conclusion that it did not have jurisdiction.
The Ute Indian Tribal Business Committee issued the following statement in response to the federal court’s dismissal of Roosevelt City’s complaint:
“The Ute Tribal Business Committee strongly denounces Roosevelt City’s improper tactics in this case to seek to undermine and attack the Ute Tribal Court’s jurisdiction and authority. Instead of spending a small amount of Roosevelt City’s taxpayer money to seek to dismiss the underlying case that had been filed in Tribal Court, the Roosevelt City spent substantial time and money on multiple federal court briefs and hearings that were not supported by federal law, resulting in a waste of taxpayer and Tribal monies. Citizens’ of Roosevelt City and Duchesne County should be outraged that their elected leaders and legal representatives continue to pursue their anti-Tribal agenda in wasting limited government funds on these frivolous lawsuits that they continue to lose. The Tribal Business Committee hopes that this decision will serve as a wake-up call for Duchesne County and its subdivisions that it must start to respect the rule of law and the Ute Indian Tribe’s jurisdiction and attempt to work with the Tribe instead of against the Tribe.”
About the Ute Indian Tribe-The Ute Indian Tribe resides on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation in northeastern Utah. Three bands of Utes comprise the Ute Indian Tribe: the Whiteriver Band, the Uncompahgre Band and the Uintah Band. The Tribe has a membership of more than three thousand individuals, with over half living on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation. The Ute Indian Tribe operates its own tribal government and oversees approximately 1.3 million acres of trust land which contains significant oil and gas deposits. The Tribal Business Committee is the governing council of the Tribe.