Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Exhaustion Requirement Applies to Challenges to Tribal Convictions

Valenzuela v. Silversmith, 2012 WL 5507249 (11/14/12) (N.M.) (Published) - Despite the lack of explicit language imposing an exhaustion requirement, the 10th holds that, before a petitioner may challenge a tribal conviction in federal court pursuant to 25 U.S.C. ยง 1303, a petitioner must exhaust tribal remedies. There are exceptions to that rule where the assertion of tribal jurisdiction is motivated by bad faith, the tribal action is patently violative of jurisdictional prohibitions or exhaustion would be futile. In this case, the petitioner could pursue habeas relief in tribal courts, even though he waived his right to appeal and pursuing the habeas route is not mandatory under tribal law. His lack of counsel and ignorance of the habeas option are not valid excuses.