Chemehuevi Indian Tribe, on its own behalf and on behalf of its members parens patriae; Chelsea Lynn Bunim; Tommie Robert Ochoa; Jasmine Sansoucie; Naomi Lopez, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
John McMahon, in his official capacity as Sheriff of San Bernardino County; Ronald Sindelar, in his official capacity as deputy sheriff for San Bernardino County, Defendants-Appellees.
and Submitted May 13, 2019 Pasadena, California
from the United States District Court for the Central
District of California Dolly M. Gee, District Judge,
John Marston (argued), Rapport and Marston, Ukiah,
California, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.
M. Murphy (argued) and Katelyn K. Empey, Slovak Baron Empey
Murphy & Pinkey LLP, Palm Springs, California; Michelle
Blakemore and Miles Kowalski, San Bernardino County Counsel,
San Bernardino, California; for Defendants-Appellees.
Before: Kim McLane Wardlaw and Andrew D. Hurwitz, Circuit
Judges, and Edward R. Korman, [*] District Judge.
panel affirmed in part and vacated in part the district
court's dismissal of a complaint and remanded in an
action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by the
Chemehuevi Indian Tribe and four of its enrolled members
alleging violations of various federal statutory and
constitutional rights in connection with citations by San
Bernardino County Sheriff's Deputies of four Tribe
members for violating California regulatory traffic laws.
panel first analyzed the history and establishment of the
Chemehuevi Reservation and concluded that the area where the
Tribe members were cited was within the boundaries of the
Reservation and hence was "Indian country" under 18
U.S.C. § 1151(a). Accordingly, the panel held that San
Bernardino County did not have jurisdiction to enforce
California regulatory traffic laws within that area.
panel held that the individual plaintiffs, but not the Tribe,
could challenge the citations under § 1983. The panel
held that because § 1983 was designed to secure private
rights against government encroachment, tribal members could
use it to vindicate their individual rights, but not the
tribe's communal rights. The panel therefore vacated the
district court's judgment dismissing the complaint as to
the individuals, but affirmed the judgment as to the Tribe.
HURWITZ, Circuit Judge:
2015, San Bernardino County Sheriff's Deputies cited four
enrolled members of the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe for violating
California regulatory traffic laws. Two of the Tribe's
members were cited on Section 36 of Township 5 North, Range
24 East ("Section 36"), a one square mile plot the
Tribe claims is part of its Reservation; two were cited
elsewhere on the Reservation.
undisputed that the Sheriff cannot enforce regulatory traffic
laws in "Indian country." See 18 U.S.C.
§ 1162; 28 U.S.C. § 1360. "Indian
country" includes, but is not limited to, land within
the boundaries of a reservation. 18 U.S.C. § 1151. The
issues for decision today are (1) whether the individual
Tribe members and the Tribe can challenge the citations
through a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action; and, if so, (2)
whether Section 36 is Indian country. We hold that the
individual plaintiffs, but not the Tribe, can challenge the
citations under § 1983. And, we conclude that all the
citations occurred within Indian country. We therefore vacate
the district court's judgment dismissing the complaint as
to the individuals but affirm the judgment as to the Tribe.
Lynn Bunim, Jasmine Sansoucie, Tommie Robert Ochoa, and Naomi
Lopez are enrolled members of the Chemehuevi Tribe. Each was
stopped and cited by a San Bernardino County Sheriff's
Deputy for violating a California regulatory traffic law.
Deputy Sheriff Ronald Sindelar stopped and cited Bunim on
Section 36 for driving without a valid registration. Sindelar
impounded Bunim's car, leaving her alone on ...