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Law
Judge: Micmac Band free from state jurisdiction


The Aroostook Band of Micmac Indians is not subject to state employment or civil rights laws in Maine, a federal judge ruled on Monday.

In a 28-page opinion, U.S. Magistrate Judge Margaret J. Kravchuk said the tribe doesn't have to comply with the Maine Whistleblower Protection Act and can't be sued or investigated under the Maine Human Rights Act. She rejected all of the arguments made by three former employees who claimed the tribe violated state law when it fired them.

The decision supports the tribe's right to self-governance, or to deal with internal matters. Tribal officials have been waiting on the ruling to decide whether they will go ahead and open a tax-free smoke shop.

The state participated in the case on behalf of the Maine Human Rights Commission. The state claims that it has civil and criminal jurisdiction on tribal lands.

Kravchuk rejected the argument, saying the tribe doesn't fall under a 1980 settlement act that granted the state jurisdiction over the lands of three other tribes. The judge instead said the tribe falls under a 1991 settlement act that preserved the tribe's rights unless the tribe entered into an agreement with the state.

In this case, the tribe never ratified an agreement that would have granted the state criminal and civil jurisdiction.

Get the Story:
Micmacs prevail in court (The Bangor Daily News 12/6)

Get the Decision:
Aroostook Band v. Ryan (December 5, 2005)

Earlier Decision:
Aroostook Band v. Maine (April 13, 2005)

Relevant Links:
Aroostook Band of Micmacs - http://www.micmac-nsn.gov

Related Stories:
Maine tribe wins key ruling on state jurisdiction (04/15)