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Supreme Court to hear PCI case

Published 2:00pm Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Alabama Supreme Court has agreed to rule on the Poarch Band of Creek Indians tax-exemption status after an appeal filed this week that points to the now infamous Cariceri v.Salazar case Escambia County Commissioners have been attempting to flesh out since April.
According to attorney Bryan Taylor, who was hired by the commission as a legal advisor specifically for assistance in the PCI case, Lee County resident Jerry Rape sued PCI and its casino business last year in Montgomery County Circuit Court for refusing to pay him a $1.3 million jackpot he said he won at the tribe’s Creek Casino Montgomery.
A release from Taylor’s office states, “Rape is appealing the ruling of Circuit Judge Eugene Reese, who threw out the case based on the Indian tribe’s argument that the dispute is beyond the jurisdiction of state courts to decide.”
In his lawsuit Rape pointed to the 2009 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Cariceri case arguing it means the federal government “did not possess authority to take land into trust for the tribe, and the tribe is not entitled to immunity.”
In their motion to dismiss the case, PCI said Alabama courts have no jurisdiction over the incident because it “occurred on the Tribe’s trust lands, which are held in trust by the United States for the benefit of the Tribe.”
In his release, Taylor states, “now it will be up to the Alabama Supreme Court to decide, and from there the case could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
The Cariceri case has been the focal point of the ongoing dispute between the Escambia County Commission and the PCI over the legality of the tax-exempt status of tribal lands currently held in federal trust.
A recent reply to a commission letter from the U.S. Department of the Interior confirmed the tribe’s trust status, but failed, commissioners said, to address their main concern of how the Cariceri case impacts the issue, if at all.
Monday the commission announced they would take a step back from the legal process and extend an invitation to tribal leaders in order to attempt to come to an agreement on the issue. During the same meeting commissioners Raymond Wiggins and David Quarker, whose district includes the area in Atmore housing the PCI Wind Creek Casino and Hotel, said they felt the commission no longer needed to work with Taylor. Both commissioners, joined by Commissioner Brandon Smith who has supported the tribe throughout the course of the dispute, said they felt Taylor’s background as a member of former Gov. Bob Riley’s advisory panel made him a poor fit to aid the county in their quest to clarify the Cariceri decision’s connection to PCI; however a formal vote on the issue was not taken.
In Taylor’s recent release, he continued to address the issue stating, “The Carcieri case has also taken center stage lately in Escambia County, where county commissioners have come under intense criticism by the tribe and some editorial page writers for raising questions about the Carcieri decision’s impact on the tribe’s taxable status. Currently, the tribe claims they are federally exempted from state and local property taxes, sales taxes, tobacco taxes and other fees and taxes. The Escambia County Commission has question whether that tax exemption still stands after the Carcieri ruling, but the county has taken no formal legal action.”
Taylor said “although Rape’s case is unrelated to Escambia County, the legal briefs in the case seem to vindicate the county commissioners. Rape’s attorneys are making strong legal arguments that he believes will be taken very seriously by Alabama Supreme Court justices.”

  • Redman

    it seems lately everybody wants a piece of the PCI pie.

  • missysmom

    IF PCI loses it’s case, it will be the utter destruction of Escambia County. They have already stated they will close if ruled against. Not only do they employ many, many residents of Escambia county but also many other people from surrounding counties.
    All of you commissioners will get what you sorely deserve-loss of your elected jobs AND residents. Tax base-gone.

  • tuschkahouma

    This precedent was already attempted by a Michigan
    man trying to sue the Show-mi-ni-mi-bish or Gun Lake
    Band of Potawatomi Indians in Michigan who weren’t
    federally recognized until the 1980′s using the
    Carceiri ruling that went against the Narragansett
    Tribe of Rhode Island in the US Supreme Court. The
    difference between the Narragansett Tribe and the
    Gun Lake Potawatomi and Poarch Creek Indians is that
    the two tribes had BIA involvement and federal recognition
    in the past whereas the Narragansett Tribe did not.
    The Narragansetts were known since colonial time
    but were under state jurisdiction instead of federal
    jurisdiction. The State of Rhode Island illegally
    sold off the Narragansett tribal lands in 1880
    without an act of the US Congress which is a violation
    of the Indian Non Intercourse Act of 1790. The US
    Congress has plenary power over Indian affairs as stated
    in the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution. Only
    the US Congress can cede away land by treaty. After
    the Narragansett Tribe filed a land claim lawsuit
    in the 1970′s against the State of Rhode Island
    a settlement was reached where the tribe got 1800
    acres of settlement land. However, the State of Rhode
    Island made the Narragansett Tribe agree to state jurisdiction on the settlement land meaning no tobacco
    sales without tax and no casinos. This was between
    1978 and 1983. In 1991 the Narragansett Tribe got
    31 acres of additional land for tribal housing outside of the 1978 settlement lands. The State of Rhode Island
    feared gaming on this land due to the area not within the
    1978 boundaries. So Rhode Island Governor Carceiri sued
    and stated that since the Narragansetts were federally recognized in 1934 the Dept of the US Interior could not
    use the Indian Reorganization Act to put land into trust
    for the Narragansett Tribe. The US Supreme Court agreed. The Gun Lake Band of Potawatomi Indians
    were amongst a number of Anishnabek tribes of the
    Three Fires (Ojibwe, Ottawa, Potawatomi) who were
    ignored and not allowed IRA Constitutions from the
    1870′s to the 1930′s in Michigan. Finally in the 1980′s
    and 1990′s a number of them gained US Congressional Recognition which is allowed with the plenary powers
    vested in the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution.
    The Poarch Creek Tribe of Indians were one of two
    total tribes who gained BIA acknowledgement over
    a two or three decade period and like the other
    tribe, The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, the
    Poarch Creek Tribe spent four or more decades pursuing this BIA tribal acknowledgement. The Poarch Creek
    Tribe were White Stick Indians who remained in Alabama
    as a number of the Red Stick Creek tribes were forcibly
    removed to Indian Territory in the 1830′s. They have
    prior BIA lands to 1924 and US Census Acknowledgement
    from 1860 to 1900. If it wasn’t for Non Indians dragging their feet politically the IRA and Carceiri issue would
    be moot in the early 20th century. I’m saying something
    unpopular in Alabama but the GOP is to blame for this.
    The GOP led House of Representatives are stalling
    on a fix to Carceiri issue created by the US Supreme
    Court. I’ve called US Representative Tom Cole, of
    Oklahoma and Chickasaw tribal member about the Carceiri
    Fix issue, in the Lawton, Oklahoma office. I watch as
    anti-Indian US Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia,
    Clarence Thomas, and John Roberts, cherry pick cases
    like this one to advocate states rights in a partisan
    manner instead of hearing the cases objectively. Look
    at the Wagnon V Prairie Band Potawatomi Case or the
    Cheyenne River Sioux Bank Jurisdiction case and tell me
    Justice Antonin Scalia sounds objective. He mocks Indian
    law with his tone. Either this is a test case to establish
    the bright line between the Narragansetts and Poarch
    Creek tribes of the world or it’s the GOP using states
    rights to get over on Indian tribes. Justice Breyer
    stated that BIA or federal government involvement
    prior to 1934 could signify US jurisdiction over
    said tribe at the time of 1934 making this Escambia
    tax claim moot. Simply put, the Poarch Creeks had
    prior US Government and BIA involvement before 1934.
    The Narragansetts did not. If it looks and smells
    political I guess that’s what it is.

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