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Iowa Attorney General challenges Tama County Magistrate order May Settle Meskwaki Settlement Jurisdiction By John Speer CIP

February 28, 2019
Northern-Sun Print
Views of conflicting law enforcement issues covering the Meskwaki Settlement in Tama County may be settled by the Iowa Supreme Court. On Jan. 31, the Iowa Attorney General's Office filed an application for a Supreme Court review of a case brought by Meskwaki Nation Tribal Police and thrown out by Tama County Magistrate Richard Vander Mey. On Jan. 1 of this year, the Magistrate dismissed charges of trespassing, violation of a no contact order and possession of drug paraphernalia against Jessica Kay Stanton, 41,Marshalltown. He ordered Stanton be released from custody immediately. The court records on file at the time show Stanton had been charged on Dec. 13, 2018, at 11:12 p.m. at 1504 305th Street, Tama, the address of the Meskwaki Bingo • Casino • Hotel by Meskwaki Nation Tribal Police, and was taken into custody. In the order Magistrate Vander Mey wrote, in part, "Federal jurisdiction was recently enacted which removed state jurisdiction for crimes committed on the Settlement." He goes on to write, "The understanding of the undersigned is that the lack of state jurisdiction prohibits tribal police officers as well as Iowa peace officers from initiating state criminal charges for conduct on the Settlement regardeless of the race or ethnic background of and potential defendant." The action came following the signing of federal legislation by President Trump on Dec. 11 which placed legal jurisdiction for the Meskwaki Settlement in the control of the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa (Meskwaki). In 1948, federal legislation put the responsibility for Settlement jurisdiction in the control of the State of Iowa. In the nine-page Supreme Court filing, Assistant Attorney General Aaron Rogers calls for a quick resolve in the court filing say it will have a "broad effect" - If this issues is not quickly settled statewide, there are other tribal lands at risk if a law enforcement vacuum if the same misreading of the 2018 act persists and spreads." His filing cautions the other tribal lands and that of the Meskwaki which have casinos in Iowa draw many non-members of tribes and charges "the incorrect reading fo the 2018 Act would have thus have a potentially broad effect. On Feb. 15 Magistrate Vander Mey filed a resistance to the challenge to his ruling. Assistant Attorney General Rogers argues in his application for review Magistrate Vander Mey made an "incorrect reading" of the 2018 Congressional action. He charges the only applies to Tribal members and the state does continue to have jurisdiction over criminal acts on tribal lands. Adding to the issues, on Dec. 13 Meskwaki Attorney General Jay Finch wrote Tama County Sheriff Dennis Kucera requesting him to instruct his officers to not enter the Meskwaki Settlement without permission or unless invited by Meskwaki Tribal Police. He wrote the sheriff's office had no jurisdiction to serve state subpoenas on the Settlement "unless tribal code is followed" and the sheriff's office can no longer arrest a native person on the Settlement who has an outstanding state or federal warrant. He also wrote search warrants can only be served if a drafted as a search warrant by a tribal prosecutor and, "In all cases, all future search warrants will be carried out by the Meskwaki Nation Police Department." Similarly, only Meskwaki Police can make arrests on outstanding warrants."



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