Business | Law

Washington court backs state jurisdiction over smokeshop

The state of Washington can assert criminal jurisdiction over a smokeshop located in Indian Country, the Washington Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

The Comenout family owns and operates the Indian Country Store on an Indian allotment that is not within the boundaries of a reservation. The court, however, noted that Washington is a Public Law 280 state.

"Washington assumed full nonconsensual 'criminal jurisdiction over all Indian country outside established Indian reservations,'" under Public Law 280, the court wrote.

In July 2008, the state raided the smokeshop and seized 37,000 cartons of cigarettes, worth an estimated $750,000. The Comenouts were selling the tobacco without collecting state taxes.

The late Edward Comenout was the owner of the store at the time of the raid. He was a member of the Quinault Nation, which has signed a tobacco tax compact with the state.

Turtle Talk has posted documents from the case, State v. Comenout.

Get the Story:
Court: WA has jurisdiction in tribe cigarette case (AP 12/8)

Washington Supreme Court Decision:
State v. Comenout (December 8, 2011)

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