United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's motion for
reconsideration (Dkt. No. 45) of the Court's Order
denying Plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction and
granting Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Dkt.
No. 43). Having thoroughly considered the parties'
briefing and the relevant record, the Court finds oral
argument unnecessary and hereby DENIES the motion for the
reasons explained herein.
factual background of this case has been described in detail
in a previous order (Dkt. No. 43 at 1-6.) This lawsuit was
initiated by members of the Nooksack Tribal Council,
including “holdover” members who continued to
occupy their seats on the Council after their terms expired
in March 2016. (Id. at 3.) Defendants consist of the
Department of the Interior (“DOI”), Bureau of
Indian Affairs (“BIA”) and members of the
agencies' leadership. (Id. at 2.)
11, 2017, the Court granted Defendants' motion for
summary judgment, holding that it did not have subject matter
jurisdiction because the holdover Council lacked authority to
bring its claims on behalf of the Tribe during the period
where DOI had refused to recognize tribal leadership.
(Id. at 10.) The Court subsequently denied
Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction.
(Id. at 11.)
filed a motion for reconsideration and Defendants responded.
(Dkt. Nos. 45, 47.) Before the Court addressed the motion,
the parties filed a joint motion for a 120-day stay of
proceedings. (Dkt. No. 49.) The Court granted the stay and
the parties filed a joint status report at the end of the
120-day period. (Dkt. Nos. 51, 54.) During the stay, the
parties conducted negotiations that resulted in the execution
of a Memorandum of Agreement (“MOA”) between
Robert Kelly, the Chairman of the Tribal Council, and Michael
Black, the Acting-Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs.
(Dkt. No. 54 at 2.)
outlines a process through which the federal government will
once again recognize the Nooksack Tribal Council as the
governing body of the Nooksack Tribe. (Dkt. No. 54-1 at 1-2.)
Under the MOA, the Tribe must hold a special election and the
results must be endorsed by the BIA. (Id. at 2.) In
addition, the MOA reiterated that DOI only recognizes actions
taken by the Nooksack Tribal Council prior to March 24, 2016
when a quorum existed. (Id. at 1.) The special
election is scheduled for December 2, 2017. (Dkt. No. 54 at
4.) In the parties' joint status report, Plaintiff asked
the Court to immediately renote its motion for
reconsideration. (Id. at 6.)
Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration
for reconsideration are disfavored. The Court will ordinarily
deny such motions in the absence of a showing of manifest
error in the prior ruling or a showing of new facts or legal
authority which could not have been brought to its attention
earlier with reasonable diligence.” Local Rule 7(h)(1).
Motions for reconsideration are not the place for parties to
make new arguments or to ask the Court to rethink what it has
already thought. Richard v. Kelsey, C09-5253-FDB,
slip op. at 1 (W.D. Wash. Nov. 9, 2009).
does not present new facts or legal authority to support its
motion. Rather, it argues that the Court's ruling
represented both manifest error and a manifest injustice.
(Dkt. No. 45 at 2.)
The Court's Ruling was not Manifest Error
asserts that the Court committed manifest error because it
did not defer to the Tribe's reasonable interpretation of
tribal law in ruling that a holdover Council could bring suit
on behalf of the Tribe. (Dkt. No. 45 at 4.) The Court
is asking the Court to construe tribal judicial decisions and
rule that they apply to the facts of this case. As the Court
noted in its previous order, federal courts do not have
authority to interpret tribal law. (Dkt. No. 43 at 11)
(citing Cayuga Nation v. Tanner, 824 F.3d 321, 327
(2d Cir. 2016)). Moreover, the Court should not interpret
previous tribal decisions in light of DOI's refusal to
recognize Tribal leadership since March 24, 2016, when the
Tribal Council last had a quorum of duly-elected members.
Courts have held that it is appropriate to give ...