Inyo County v. Paiute-Shoshone Indians of Bishop Community of Bishop Colony, 538 U.S. 701, 5 (2003)

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Cite as: 538 U. S. 701 (2003)

Opinion of the Court

to respond when the Department requested that they reconcile the apparent discrepancies between their Casino earnings and their welfare application forms. Id., at 5. The Department then forwarded the matter to the Inyo County District Attorney's Office, which, in turn, asked the employees to reconcile the apparent discrepancies. Id., at 6. That request, the County asserts, was also ignored. Ibid.

In February 2000, the District Attorney's Office asked the Casino for the three employees' employment records, explaining that it was investigating "alleged welfare fraud." 291 F. 3d 549, 554 (CA9 2002). The Tribe responded that its privacy policy precluded release of the records without the employees' consent.

The District Attorney then sought and, on showing probable cause, obtained a search warrant from the Inyo County Superior Court. The warrant authorized a search of the Casino for payroll records of the three employees. On March 23, 2000, the Inyo County Sheriff and the District Attorney executed the warrant. They did so over the objection of tribal officials. Those officials urged that the state court lacked jurisdiction to authorize a search of premises and seizure of records belonging to a sovereign tribe.1 The Sheriff and the District Attorney, lacking cooperation from the Tribe, cut the locks off the storage facility containing the Casino's personnel records. The county officials seized time-card entries, payroll registers, and payroll check registers relating to the three employees; the seizure also garnered information contained in quarterly wage and withholding reports the Corporation had submitted to the State. Each item seized contained at least one reference to an employee under investigation.

In July 2000, the District Attorney's Office asked the Tribe for the personnel records of six other Casino employees.

1 The United States maintains, and the County does not dispute, that the Corporation is an "arm" of the Tribe for sovereign immunity purposes. See Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae 11-14.


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