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fort Yates Pub. Sch. Dist. #4 v. Murphy

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

May 15, 2015

Fort Yates Public School District #4, Plaintiff - Appellant
v.
Jamie Murphy, for C.M.B. (a minor); Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Court, Defendants - Appellees; Fort Yates Public School District #4, Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
Jamie Murphy, for C.M.B. (a minor), Defendant - Appellant, Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Court, Defendant

Submitted: December 10, 2014.

Page 663

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 664

Appeals from United States District Court for the District of North Dakota - Bismarck.

For Fort Yates Public School District #4, Plaintiff - Appellee (14-1702): Rachel Bruner-Kaufman, Gary R. Thune, Pearce & Durick, Bismarck, ND.

For Jamie Murphy, for C.M.B. (a minor), Defendant - Appellant (14-1702): Chad Christopher Nodland, Nodland Law Offices, Bismarck, ND.

For Fort Yates Public School District #4, Plaintiff - Appellant (14-1549): Rachel Bruner-Kaufman, Gary R. Thune, Pearce & Durick, Bismarck, ND.

For Jamie Murphy, for C.M.B. (a minor), Defendant - Appellee (14-1549): Chad Christopher Nodland, Nodland Law Offices, Bismarck, ND.

For Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Court, Defendant - Appellee (14-1549): Constantinos DePountis, Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Court, Fort Yates, ND.

Before BYE, SMITH, and KELLY, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 665

SMITH, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff-Appellant Fort Yates Public School District #4 (" School District" ) brought an action against Defendant-Appellees " Jamie Murphy for C.M.B. (a minor)" and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Court (" Tribal Court" ), seeking (1) a declaration tat the Tribal Court lacks jurisdiction over claims that Murphy filed against the School District in Tribal Court, and (2) injunctions prohibiting the prosecution of the claims in Tribal Court. The district court dismissed the Tribal Court on sovereign immunity grounds. Later, the district court dismissed the entire case on the grounds that the Tribal Court had jurisdiction. For the reasons stated herein, we affirm in part and reverse in part.

I. Background

The School District is a political subdivision of the State of North Dakota, Bismarck Public School District #1 v. State By and Through North Dakota Legislative Assembly, 511 N.W.2d 247, 251 (N.D. 1994), that operates within the exterior boundaries of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation (" Reservation" ). The Constitution of North Dakota requires that the School District provide education to all children in the State of North Dakota, including children who are Indians or reside on reservations. N.D. Const. art. VIII, § 1 (" [P]ublic schools [ ] shall be open to all children of the state of North Dakota . . . ." ).

In 2003, the School District and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (" Tribe" ) entered into a Joint Powers Agreement (" Agreement" ) to " combine the educational, social, cultural and physical opportunities of all K-12 students" who attend schools on the Reservation regardless of Indian heritage.[1] The Agreement provided that both the Standing Rock Community School Board and the Fort Yates School Board would govern the school system. It also provided that all " real property or equipment" purchased under the Agreement would generally be " joint property" of the Tribe and School District.[2] The Agreement made clear that " [e]ach of the parties recognize[s] the sovereignty of the other. In executing the Agreement, no party waive[s] any rights, including treaty rights, immunities, including sovereign immunities, or jurisdiction. This Agreement neither diminishes nor expands rights or protections afforded other persons or entities under tribal, state or federal law."

A fight between C.M.B. and A.K., two students at a school subject to the Agreement, triggered the dispute at the heart of this litigation. After the altercation, the school suspended A.K. for ten days, and C.M.B. obtained a restraining order against A.K. A.K. allegedly violated the restraining order several months later by verbally harassing C.M.B. at the school. In response, the school suspended A.K. for ten additional days.

Jamie Murphy filed suit on behalf of her daughter, C.M.B., a Tribe member, in the Tribal Court against the School District, ...


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