Cayuga Nation wins ruling in dispute over local anti-gaming law

The LakeSide Entertainment facility in Union Springs, New York. Image from Google Maps

The Cayuga Nation of New York can proceed with a lawsuit that challenges a local anti-gaming law, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday.

The tribe sued after the village of Union Springs threatened to enforce the law against the tribe and its members. But a federal judge dismissed the case because he said he had no authority to resolve a leadership dispute within the tribe.

In a unanimous decision, the 2nd Circuit reversed. A three-judge panel said the Bureau of Indian Affairs recognized Clint Halftown as the tribe's last legitimate leader and he was the one who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the tribe.

"Like the BIA, which must determine whom to recognize as a counterparty to administer ongoing contracts on behalf of the Nation, the courts must recognize someone to act on behalf of the Nation to institute, defend, or conduct litigation," Judge Gerard Lynch wrote for the majority.

On a second issue, the court said individual tribal members could also proceed with the lawsuit because they are the ones being threatened with prosecution by the village. The case will be remanded to Judge David Hurd for further proceedings.

The tribe operates LakeSide Entertainment, a Class II facility, on its ancestral territory in Union Springs. The land, however, is not held in trust.

The tribe's land-into-trust application has been under review for more than a decade. The final environmental impact statement was completed in October 2010 but the BIA hasn't issued a decision.

Get the Story:
New York Tribe Can Dispute Anti-Gaming Law (Courthouse News Service 6/2)

2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Decision:
Cayuga Nation v. Tanner (June 2, 2016)

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