Supreme Court won't hear Indian domestic violence case

The U.S. Supreme Court today denied a petition in Cavanaugh v. US, an Indian Country domestic violence 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.

Due to prior tribal court convictions, Cavanaugh was charged as a "habitual" domestic offender 18 U.S.C. § 117. 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.

The Supreme Court, without comment, declined to hear the case in an order this morning. Justice Elena Kagan, who was Solicitor General at the Department of Justice when Cavanaugh was being prosecuted, did not participation in the consideration of the petition.

The Supreme Court has a similar case pending in Shavanaux v. US, involving Adam Ray Shavanaux, a member of the Ute Tribe of Utah who was also charged as a "habitual" domestic violence. DOJ's response was filed February 8.

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

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

Related Stories:
Two Indian domestic violence cases before Supreme Court (12/12)

Join the Conversation