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Hogan Lovells Appellate Team Earns Supreme Court Victory In Major Test Of Tribal Court Jurisdiction

23 June 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. 23 June 2016 - Hogan Lovells secured a hard-won victory on behalf of American Indian tribes today in Dollar General v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, a case before the Supreme Court of the United States. The Justices split 4-4, affirming a lower court’s ruling in favor of Hogan Lovells’ client.

The case was seen as a major test of tribal courts’ authority to hear civil cases against non-Indian defendants and was one of the most closely watched cases of the Supreme Court Term.

The case arose when a Choctaw child filed suit in tribal court, alleging that a manager at Dollar General’s store on Choctaw land had sexually assaulted him.  Dollar General sought a federal court injunction, challenging tribal jurisdiction. But the trial court declined to issue the injunction, and the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed. Today’s ruling lets stand that decision, which held that Dollar General’s consensual relationship with the Tribe supported the exercise of tribal court jurisdiction.

Neal Katyal, a partner at Hogan Lovells and the former Acting Solicitor General of the United States, argued the case, one of 28 arguments he has had before the Supreme Court, including four in this Term alone. A team of Hogan Lovells appellate lawyers—including Colleen E. Roh Sinzdak, Eugene A. Sokoloff, Frederick Liu, and Daniel J.T. Schuker—joined Katyal on the briefs, along with Melissa T. Carleton, the Tribe’s Acting Attorney General; C. Bryant Rogers, of VanAmberg, Rogers, Yepa, Abeita, Gomez & Works, LLP; and Riyaz A. Kanji, of Kanji & Katzen, PLLC.

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Robert Snoddy

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