Nevada v. Hicks, 533 U.S. 353 (2001)

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NEVADA et al. v. HICKS et al.

certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit

No. 99-1994. Argued March 21, 2001—Decided June 25, 2001

Respondent Hicks is a member of the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribes of western Nevada and lives on the Tribes' reservation. After petitioner state game wardens executed state-court and tribal-court search warrants to search Hicks's home for evidence of an off-reservation crime, he filed suit in the Tribal Court against, inter alios, the wardens in their individual capacities and petitioner Nevada, alleging trespass, abuse of process, and violation of constitutional rights remediable under 42 U. S. C. 1983. The Tribal Court held that it had jurisdiction over the tribal tort and federal civil rights claims, and the Tribal Appeals Court affirmed. Petitioners then sought, in Federal District Court, a declaratory judgment that the Tribal Court lacked jurisdiction over the claims. The District Court granted respondents summary judgment on that issue and held that the wardens would have to exhaust their qualified immunity claims in the Tribal Court. In affirming, the Ninth Circuit concluded that the fact that Hicks's home is on tribe-owned reservation land is sufficient to support tribal jurisdiction over civil claims against nonmembers arising from their activities on that land.


1. The Tribal Court did not have jurisdiction to adjudicate the wardens' alleged tortious conduct in executing a search warrant for an off-reservation crime. Pp. 357-366.

(a) As to nonmembers, a tribal court's inherent adjudicatory authority is at most as broad as the tribe's regulatory authority. Strate v. A-1 Contractors, 520 U. S. 438, 453. Pp. 357-358. (b) The rule that, where nonmembers are concerned, "the exercise of tribal power beyond what is necessary to protect tribal self-government or to control internal relations . . . cannot survive without express congressional delegation," Montana v. United States, 450 U. S. 544, 564, applies to both Indian and non-Indian land. The land's ownership status is only one factor to be considered, and while that factor may sometimes be dispositive, tribal ownership is not alone enough to support regulatory jurisdiction over nonmembers. Pp. 358-360.

(c) Tribal authority to regulate state officers in executing process related to the off-reservation violation of state laws is not essential to tribal self-government or internal relations. The State's interest in


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