Two Indian domestic violence cases before Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court is being asked to hear two Indian Country domestic violence cases.

In the first case, Roman Cavanaugh Jr., a member of the Spirit Lake Dakotah Nation in North Dakota, pleaded guilty to two felony child abuse charges. He admitted that he used a closed fist to strike his 11-year-old and 12-year-old sons in their faces in December 2010.

Cavanaugh was charged as a "habitual" domestic offender 18 U.S.C. § 117. due to prior tribal court convictions. In July, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that federal prosecutors can use the tribal cases even though he was never provided with an attorney.

Cavanaugh filed his petition for certiorari on November 10, according to the docket sheet for No. 11-7379. The Department of Justice has been granted an extension to respond by January 12.

The second case addresses the same issue. Adam Ray Shavanaux, member of the Ute Tribe of Utah, was also charged as a "habitual" domestic violence offender due to prior tribal court cases, during which he wasn't provided with an attorney.

Shavanaux filed his petition on December 7, according to the docket sheet for No. 11-7731. A response from DOJ is due January 9.

Get the Story:
Court rulings could give prosecutors more power to go after abusers on Indian reservations (AP 12/12)

Also Today:
American Indian woman goes from victim to advocate (AP 12/12)
Bill aims to halt violence against Native American women (CNN 12/9)

10th Circuit Decision:
US v. Shavanaux (July 26, 2011)

8th Circuit Decision:
US v. Cavanaugh (July 6, 2011)

Related Stories:
Spirit Lake Nation man admits guilt in felony child abuse charges (09/21)
10th Circuit revives domestic violence charge against Ute man (8/3)
10th Circuit allows use of tribal court conviction in federal court (7/27)
8th Circuit accepts tribal court convictions for federal prosecution (7/7)

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