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8th Circuit rejects Indian double jeopardy claim


A member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of South Dakota can be prosecuted in federal court despite pleading guilty to the same crime in tribal court, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals said on Monday.

Nephi Sky Antelope pleaded no contest to complicity to aggravated assault for an August 2007 attack on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation He was sentenced to 90 days in jail and was ordered not to return to Standing Rock for one year.

Just a few months later, Antelope was indicted in federal court for the same incident. He pleaded guilty but reserved his right to challenge the prosecution based on the double jeopardy clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The 8th Circuit rejected the claim, basing its decision on US v. Lara, in which the U.S. Supreme Court said Indian defendants can be tried in tribal and federal court for the same crime because tribes are separate sovereigns. The court said tribes can exercise their inherent authority over all Indians, not just their own members.

8th Circuit Decision:
US v. Antelope (December 8, 2008)

US v. Lara Decision:
Syllabus | Opinion [Breyer] | Concurrence [Stevens] | Concurrence [Kennedy | Concurrence [Thomas] | Dissent [Souter]

Related Stories:
Supreme Court affirms tribal powers over all Indians (04/20)