United States v. Jicarilla Apache Nation: Its Importance and Potential Future Ramifications
59 The Federal Lawyer 4, April 2012
3 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2013
Date Written: 2012
This brief article considers the potential implications of the United States Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Jicarilla Apache Nation. The case differs procedurally from most cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in that the appeal to the Supreme Court came as a writ of mandamus by the United States to vacate an order requiring the United States to release certain documents in a breach of trust claim brought against the federal government in the Court of Federal Claims. Furthermore, the Court's decision builds on past precedent related to the federal government's trust relationship. The issue before the Court was whether the common-law fiduciary exception to the attorney-client privilege applied to the United States when acting in its capacity as trustee for tribal trust assets. In concluding that the fiduciary exception did not apply, the Court explained that the federal government resembles a private trustee in only limited instances.This article will discuss why this case was important for Indian country and some significant “takeaways” from the Court’s decision. This article builds on the article published by Dan Rey-Bear of the Nordhaus Law Firm, LLP in The Federal Lawyer, which also discussed the importance of the then-pending Jicarilla Apache Nation case.
Keywords: Indian, tribe, American Indian, Native American, Jicarilla Apache Nation, federal trust responsibility, federal trustee
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