December 22, 2009; see amended opinion filed March 22, 2010
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California John F. Walter, District Judge, Presiding D.C. No. CV-07-01851-JFW.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: N.R. Smith, Circuit Judge
Argued and Submitted April 17, 2009 -- Pasadena, California
Before: Johnnie B. Rawlinson and N. Randy Smith, Circuit Judges, and Claudia Wilken,*fn1 District Judge.
The Pechanga Band of the Luiseño Mission Indians ("Pechanga Tribe") disenrolled a number of its members ("Appellants") for failing to prove their lineal descent as members of the Tribe. Federal courts generally lack jurisdiction to consider any appeal from the decision of an Indian tribe to disenroll one of its members. See Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez, 436 U.S. 49, 72 n.32 (1978). Appellants, therefore, brought this petition for habeas corpus under 25 U.S.C. § 1303 of the Indian Civil Rights Act ("ICRA"), claiming their disenrollment by members of the Pechanga Tribal Council ("Appellees") was tantamount to an unlawful detention. Despite the novelty of this approach, we nonetheless lack subject matter jurisdiction to consider this claim, because Appellants were not detained. We hold that Appellants cannot bring their claims under § 1303 of the ICRA and therefore affirm the district court.
The Pechanga Tribe is a federally-recognized Indian tribe.
72 Fed. Reg. 13648, 13650 (Mar. 22, 2007). The Tribe's ultimate governing authority consists of all of the adult members of the Tribe ("General Membership"). On December 10, 1978, the Pechanga Tribe adopted the Constitution and Bylaws of the Temecula Tribe of Luisenño Mission Indians ("Pechanga Constitution"). Article II of the Pechanga Constitution provides:
Membership is an enrolled member documented in the Band's Official Enrollment Book of 1979.
Qualifications for membership of the Temecula Band of Luiseno Mission Indians Are:
A. Applicant must show proof of Lineal Descent from original Pechanga Temecula people.
B. Adopted people, family or Band, and non-indians cannot be enrolled. Exception: People who were accepted in the Indian Way prior to 1928 will be accepted.
C. If you have ever been enrolled or recognized in any other reservation you cannot enroll in Pechanga.
At issue here is subsection A, requiring applicants to "show proof of Lineal Descent from original Pechanga Temecula people." In late 2002 and early 2003, the Enrollment Committee received information from its members alleging that a number of Pechanga Tribe members were not lineal descendants from the original Pechanga Temecula people. Therefore, according to the Pechanga Enrollment Disenrollment Procedure ("Disenrollment Procedures"), the Enrollment Committee was required to investigate the allegations. Allegations surrounded five lines of descent that allegedly did not qualify for membership under the Pechanga Constitution.
According to the Pechanga Disenrollment Procedure, dis-enrollment is "revoking a person's membership when it is found that they do not meet the requirements set forth on the enrollment application which was approved by the Band." The Disenrollment Procedures were adopted by the Pechanga Tribe (1) to correct mistakes that resulted when tribal mem-bership was mistakenly approved and (2) to provide a process that would allow a fair hearing in the disenrollment procedure. Under the Disenrollment Procedures, the Enrollment Committee initiates a disenrollment process against those individuals allegedly not qualifying for membership in the Tribe. After the initiation of the disenrollment, the Enrollment Committee must provide adequate notice to the individual to be summoned to a meeting with the Enrollment Committee. The notice must (1) state that the Enrollment Committee has questions regarding enrollment; (2) stress the importance of responding to the notice; and (3) request a meeting within thirty days of the response. Unless the person receiving the notice chooses to be automatically disenrolled, he or she must respond. Once a response has been filed, the Enrollment Committee has thirty days to set up a meeting. At that meeting, the Enrollment Committee must show specific evidence that would prove that the documentation provided for enrollment does not provide evidence of lineal descent. If the Enrollment Committee provides such evidence, the individual then is allowed another thirty days to provide additional information to prove her or his lineal descent. If the individual provides further evidence that satisfies the Enrollment Committee as to his lineal descent, the process is terminated and the individual keeps his or her membership status. If the Enrollment Committee is not satisfied by the further evidence, the individual will be disenrolled and the Tribal Council is notified of the disenrollment.
If the Enrollment Committee fails to follow these steps or is negligent in any way, the individual can appeal to the Tribal Council for a fair hearing. At the hearing, the Tribal Council only reviews the documentation that the Enrollment Committee reviewed. The individual is not entitled to legal representation at the hearing. If the Tribal Council finds there was an error, the Enrollment Committee reevaluates the case. If the appeal is successful, membership will be reinstated.
Disenrollment does not mean that a person is banished from the Pechanga Reservation. The Pechanga Tribe instead has specific procedures for exclusion and eviction. These requirements are set forth in the "Exclusion and Eviction Regulations." Under these regulations, the Pechanga Tribe may exclude and or evict someone from the reservation for: "(1)
[v]iolating tribal laws and ordinances; (2) [c]reating conditions which pose a threat to the public health, safety and welfare; (3) [e]ngaging in criminal activities on the Pechanga Reservation, by finding of the Tribal Council, or being convicted of one or more felony crimes; (4) [b]eing declared a public nuisance by the Tribal Council; [or] (5) [c]reating a breach of peace, including but not limited to public drunkenness." The Exclusion and Eviction Regulations dictate the procedure to evict and or exclude and the opportunity to appeal such exclusion.
In early 2003, the Enrollment Committee began addressing the allegations regarding the lineal descent of certain members. On March 7, 2003, the Tribal Council issued a Notice and Order regarding pending disenrollment matters. The Notice and Order mandated that the Enrollment Committee:
(1) "use a fair and impartial decision by a majority of the committee to review a file;" (2) follow Robert's Rules of Order; and (3) allow adequate time for presentation of evidence as required under the Disenrollment Procedures.
Sometime before March 7, 2003, the Enrollment Committee determined that the first three lines of descent met the membership criteria. Then it turned its attention to those members who claimed a lineal descent through Paulina Hunter. On May 3, 2005, after a proper vote, the Enrollment Committee summoned Appellants and notified them that the Enrollment Committee believed there were grounds to initiate the disenrollment process. The summonses (1) notified Appellants that the disenrollment procedures had been initiated, (2) requested additional information concerning Appellants' family history, and (3) notified Appellants that they were required to set up an Initial Meeting with the Enrollment Committee.
Meetings were held with Appellants in June of 2005. The Enrollment Committee provided Appellants with a copy of all factual records in its possession. The Enrollment Committee then stated its concerns about each Appellant's claim of lineal descent. Appellants were also notified that they had thirty days to submit information supporting their claim of lineal descent. The Enrollment Committee emphasized that Appellants' enrollment would be measured by the Pechanga Constitution's requirements. The Enrollment Committee advised each Appellant that no decision would be made until it received all additional information.
On March 16, 2006, the Enrollment Committee (after review of the full record) disenrolled Appellants for failure to prove lineal descent from an original Pechanga Temecula person. Appellants exercised their right to appeal to the Tribal Council. The Tribal Council held hearings on July 21, 2006. The Tribal Council affirmed the Enrollment Committee, "finding: (1) there was no evidence of unfair or partial treatment of Appellants by the Enrollment Committee; (2) there was no evidence of negligence in the handling of Appellants' case by the Enrollment Committee; and (3) there was insufficient proof that the Enrollment Committee violated the disenrollment procedures."
Appellants then filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the Central District of California. Appellants moved for summary judgment. Appellees filed a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, claiming that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction. The district court granted the Motion to Dismiss. Appellants appealed the district court decision here.
We review de novo dismissals for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1). Carson Harbor Village, Ltd. v. City of Carson, 353 F.3d 824, 826 (9th Cir. 2004). We also review de novo a district court's denial of a petition for writ of habeas corpus under the ICRA. Selam ...