Buckland and Tribal Rules

by Lou Binninger


                Sutter County Supervisor candidate John Buckland’s arrest January 10, 2020 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino raised some questions.


Buckland was taken to jail and held until he sobered-up, a common practice in Yuba County. No charges were filed by the District Attorney.


It is assumed Buckland did not assault the arresting deputy since there were no charges filed. However, Buckland appeared scuffed-up and was belligerent to jail correctional officers. What happened at Hard Rock remains unclear.


            Buckland was released Saturday January 11 and since few people knew, it was no big deal politically for him. Buckland has been drunk in public before. Those aware of that behavior either are bothered or they aren’t, done deal.


            However, Buckland then issued a strange news release saying he traveled from Sutter County to the casino parking lot “to meet a business client to exchange business-related items.” What were the business-related items and why travel all the way to South Yuba County?


Was Buckland selling Mary Kay, Tupperware, was it a gun deal, cannabis? Some suggest he was meeting a lady. Is the casino property an enforcement-free zone as long as you don’t disrupt the gaming? Why even bring the business meeting up in the statement? Buckland is an adult and can drink and gamble.


Buckland’s straining to appear transparent actually creates disbelief and appears to construct a ruse.


            Chico News and Review ran an article about drug and other illicit exchanges at Butte County casinos in 2005 causing the Measure G advisory vote to go against the Yuba Co. casino proposal. The article influenced voters to think that more criminal activity might be coming to Yuba County.


Buckland’s statement says, “At the conclusion of the meeting I entered the casino. The duration of the stay was relatively short. Upon exiting…I encountered an unprecedented response to an incident in the parking lot. I was taken into custody for public intoxication of alcohol or drugs. I was released without criminal charges filed. I’m currently working with a civil attorney to investigate and recover evidence. He, and only he will release information…at the conclusion of his investigation.”


Why would Buckland need a civil attorney? Will he sue the tribe and/or the county? Buckland talks as if he was not personally involved in the incident. He portrays himself as the victim.


Nontribal people like Buckland have little success suing tribes. And most attorneys are unfamiliar with tribal law. Buckland said he hired an attorney with experience in activities on tribal lands.


In the ‘Atlantic,’ Sierra Crane-Murdoch wrote an article February 23, 2013 titled “On Indian Land, Criminals Can Get Away With Almost Anything.” Enterprise Rancheria and Casino is “Indian land.” Different rules apply there than elsewhere in Yuba County.


            At the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in western North Dakota (Bakken Oil Fields), where an oil boom is occurring Crane-Murdoch found there were different rules of enforcement depending on who was the perpetrator and the victim.


            “Basically,” a mechanic told me (Crane-Murdoch), “you can do anything short of killing somebody.”


            Crane-Murdoch says, “In 1978, the Supreme Court case Oliphant v. Suquamish stripped tribes of the right to arrest and prosecute non-Indians who commit crimes on Indian land. If both victim and perpetrator are non-Indian, a county or state officer must make the arrest. If the perpetrator is non-Indian and the victim an enrolled member, only a federally certified agent has that right. If the opposite is true, a tribal officer can make the arrest, but the case still goes to federal court.”


            “Even if both parties are tribal members, a U.S. attorney often assumes the case, since tribal courts lack the authority to sentence defendants to more than three years in prison. The harshest enforcement tool a tribal officer can legally wield over a non-Indian is a traffic ticket.”


“The result has been a jurisdictional tangle that often makes prosecuting crimes committed in Indian Country prohibitively difficult. In 2011, the U.S. Justice Department did not prosecute 65 percent of rape cases reported on reservations. According to department records, one in three Native American women are raped during their lifetimes—two-and-a-half times the likelihood for an average American woman—and in 86 percent of these cases, the assailant is non-Indian.”


The Buckland case reminds us that due to Federal Indian Law patron’s rights end at the reservation property line just like a foreign country and who has jurisdiction if trouble starts could get confusing.


(Get Lou’s podcast at “No Hostages Radio” and his articles at nohostagesradio.com)

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