Court Affirms Use of State-Court Warrant on Indian Trust Land

The Court of Appeals in Spokane ruled that local police do not necessarily need a warrant sign by a Tribal judge to search Indian trust land. See decision. The case stems from a person I represented in Okanogan County. The defendant was suspected of burglarizing a railroad depot on the Colville Indian Reservation in Omak, Washington. The railroad Depot was on fee land, but the police then proceeded to search the residence of my client on trust land, also in Omak. The Omak Police Department obtained a warrant from a judge in Okanogan County rather than approaching a judge in the Colville Tribal Court. The defendant is an enrolled member of the Colville tribe. Whether the police could do this has always been a gray area of the law so I figured I would send it up to the appeals courts. Next we will be taking the issue to the State Supreme Court in Olympia. The decision by the Court of Appeals was authored by Judge Kevin Korsmo.

The court’s decision also rejected a challenge we made to the Okanogan County jury system that fails to assure a sufficient number of Native-Americans on jury pools.  We will be taking this issue to the State Supreme Court too.  This issue was something that I have been working on since 2005, and I wrote a blog post about the subject in 2009.  See post.



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Steve Graham is a criminal defense lawyer, and he splits his time between Spokane and Seattle, Washington. Visit his website by clicking:
Law Office of Steve Graham
1312 North Monroe Street, #140
Spokane, WA 99201
(509) 252-9167
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