Court in Minnesota extends state jurisdiction

Minnesota's interest in public safety trumps tribal sovereignty, a state appeals court ruled on Tuesday.

The state lacks civil and criminal jurisdiction on the Red Lake Ojibwe Reservation. But the Minnesota Court of Appeals said the state can commit John Beaulieu III, a tribal member who is a registered sex offender.

"It is undeniable that the state has a compelling interest in protecting the health and safety of the public, including persons both on and off tribal land, from dangerous and repeat sex offenders," the unanimous decision stated.

The court also cited Beaulieu's request for treatment in the state system and that state civil commitment does not threaten tribal self-governance and is not pre-empted by federal law. The court noted that the Red Lake Nation doesn't have it own commitment or treatment system for sex offenders.

"Accordingly, Red Lake does not have a civil-commitment law that allows for the commitment of sexually dangerous persons and does not operate an inpatient sex-offender treatment facility to house and rehabilitate such individuals. As a result, we conclude that the exercise of state jurisdiction over respondent’s commitment is justified by the nature of the competing interests at stake," the decision stated.

Get the Story:
Appeals Court: State trumps tribe in sex offender case (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 8/15)

Get the Decision:
In the Matter of the Civil Commitment of: John Louis Beaulieu, III (August 14, 2007)

Related Stories:
Tribes face another deadline under Adam Walsh Act (8/2)
NCAI blames Republicans for blocking Indian bills (7/30)
Bill extends sex offender registry deadline (7/24)
Reminder: Adam Walsh Act deadline approaching (7/10)
Oklahoma tribes act on sex offender registry law (5/14)
Tribes face deadline to join national sex offender registry (4/30)
'No one cares' about violence against Native women (4/30)
Editorial: Injustice for indigenous women (4/27)
Editorial: U.S. fails to protect Native women (4/26)
BIA ties violence against women to meth abuse (4/26)
Violence against Native women a 'national disgrace' (4/25)
Report details 'maze' Native women victims face (4/25)
Amnesty report on violence against Native women (4/24)
Court allows state offender registry on reservations (3/23)
Opinion: Tribes and national sex offender registry (3/23)
NCAI 2007: Updates from winter session in Washington (02/27)
Minnesota tribes work with state to track offenders (08/02)
Editorial: State shouldn't fight tribal sovereignty (8/1)
Pawlenty wants jurisdiction ruling overturned (7/29)
State may seek agreements with tribes on registry (7/28)
Minnesota appeals court limits state jurisdiction (7/27)