January 2020

TRIBAL AUTHORITY

TRIBAL OFFICER HAS AUTHORITY TO DETAIN AND EXPEL FROM RESERVATION A NON-INDIAN SUSPECTED OF VIOLATING MINNESOTA LAW ON RESERVATION

Appellant drove to a hospital on the Red Lake reservation to pick up his brother. Red Lake officer Bendel was present and saw Appellant arrive. Officer Bendel noted a number of indicia of intoxication and administered a PBT, which revealed a BAC of 0.121, and additional field sobriety tests, which Appellant failed. Officer Bendel then placed Appellant in handcuffs, Mirandized him, and placed him in the back of the squad car. Officer Bendel drove Appellant to the reservation boundary, where Appellant was transferred to Beltrami County Deputy Roberts. Deputy Roberts also observed indicia of intoxication upon taking custody of Appellant, drove him to the jail, and read the implied consent advisory. Appellant consented to a breath test, which reported a BAC of 0.11. Appellant argued he was unlawfully arrested by Officer Bendel, because Officer Bendel was not a “peace officer” for purposes of the DWI statute. The district court denied Appellant’s suppression motion and, after a stipulated facts trial, found Appellant guilty of DWI. The Court of Appeals affirmed, finding Officer Bendel’s actions lawful.

The Supreme Court also affirms. The court points to federally-recognized Indian tribes’ power to exclude persons deemed undesirable from tribal lands, which includes the power to restrain and eject those who disturb the public order on the reservation. Also, under this authority, “[w]here jurisdiction to try and punish an offender rests outside the tribe, tribal officers may exercise their power to detain the offender and transport him to the proper authorities.” Duro v. Reina, 495 U.S. 676, 697 (1990). Officer Bendel detained, investigated, and ejected Thompson pursuant to this recognized tribal authority. Thus, Appellant’s detention was lawful. State v. Thompson, 937 N.W.2d 418 (Minn. Jan. 15, 2020).

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