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Iowa court rules on Meskwaki settlement jurisdiction case

September 13, 2019

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Supreme Court says state courts have jurisdiction over crimes committed on the Meskwaki Settlement when the crimes are committed by non-American Indian individuals or against people not members of a tribe.

The court made the ruling Friday in a case involving Jessica Rae Stanton. She was charged in January at the Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel in Tama by a tribal police officer with trespass, possession of drug paraphernalia and violation of a no-contact order.

A magistrate dismissed the charges, concluding a federal law passed last year removed state jurisdiction for crimes on the Indian settlement.

The case centers on changing law regarding jurisdiction on tribal lands.

A 1948 federal law gave state officials jurisdiction on tribal land for crimes committed by tribal members. However, last December Congress passed a new law repealing the 1948 act, removing state jurisdiction from crimes by tribal members or against tribal members on Indian settlements. State officials still have jurisdiction for crimes by non-Indians or against non-Indians members on tribal settlements.

The court reinstated Stanton’s charges and sent them back to district court for a determination of whether she is American Indian and whether any victims are members of a tribe.

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