A view of the Omaha Reservation in Nebraska. Photo from Omaha Tribe

Man from Omaha Tribe sentenced as habitual domestic offender

Terry Harlan, a member of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska, was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison, plus three years of supervised release, after being convicted of domestic violence.

Harlan, 52, was found guilty following a jury trial last November. He assaulted his girlfriend at a home on the reservation in March 2014.

"He pushed her into a closet, pulled her hair with one hand while he punched her about the head and face with his other hand," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a press release. When the girlfriend attempted to leave, Harlan cornered her by the door, punched her several more times, and kicked her while she was on the floor."

Harlan has prior convictions for domestic violence, including one that went to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2004. For that reason, he was convicted as a "habitual" offender under 18 U.S.C. § 117.

The law recognizes prior convictions in federal, state or tribal court. Some defendants have been challenging the use of tribal court convictions but the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has sided with the federal government.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, however, has said tribal court proceedings can't be used if the defendant wasn't provided with an attorney. The Tribal Supreme Court Project is monitoring the case in case it goes to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Get the Story:
Walthill, Neb., man sentenced for domestic abuse (The Sioux City Journal 2/27)
Walthill, Nebraska man gets prison time for punching girlfriend in the face (KTIV 2/27)

8th Circuit Court of Appeals Decision:
US v. Harlan (May 14, 2004)

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