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Tama Co. Magistrate throws out Meskwaki Police charges

Cites New Federal Law For Court Order

January 9, 2019
By John Speer - Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Tama County Magistrate Richard Vander Mey has thrown out charges against a Marshalltown woman in his court on Jan. 1 which were filed by Meskwaki Nation Tribal Police.

In an order to dismiss, VanderMey wrote he was dismissing citations against Jessica Kay Stanton, 41, which were issued on the Meskwaki Settlement on Dec. 13. She was cited for trespassing, possession of drug paraphernalia and violation of a no contact order according to VanderMey's filing. She was ordered released from custody immediately.

He assessed court costs in connection with the cases totaling $180 to the Meskwaki Nation to be paid within 30 days.

Article Photos

Tama County Magistrate Richard Vander Mey

The action comes following the signing of federal legislation by President Trump on Dec. 11 which placed legal jurisdiction for the Meskwaki Settlement in the control of the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa (Meskwakis). In 1948, federal legislation put the responsibility for Settlement jurisdiction in the control of the State of Iowa.

"Federal legislation was recently enacted which removed state jurisdiction for crimes committed on the Settlement," Vander Mey wrote in the order. "The understanding of the undersigned is that this lack of state jurisdiction prohibits tribal officers, as well as other Iowa peace officers, from initiating state criminal charges for conduct on the Settlement regardless of the race or ethnic background of any potential defendant."

The Magistrate's ruling goes on to suggest the Tama County Sheriff (Dennis Kucera) should consult with the Tama County Attorney (Brent Heeren) to determine whether prisoners such as the defendant should even be received and retained in custody" by the sheriff.

"Tribal police officers should be instructed by tribal judicial officers to cease and desist from charging persons with violation of the Code of Iowa for the reason it will only serve to clog the courts and result in the imposition of court costs upon the Meskwaki Tribe for cases which must be dismissed," VanderMey wrote in the order.

He concluded," Any charges for conduct on the Meskwaki Settlement can be pursued in tribal court or federal court."

Meskwaki Attorney General Jay Finch wrote Sheriff Kucera on Dec. 13 requesting him to instruct his officers to not enter the Meskwaki Settlement without permission or unless invited by Meskwaki Tribal Police.

He wrote the sheriff's office had no jurisdiction to serve state subpoenas on the Settlement "unless tribal code is followed" and the sheriff's office can no longer arrest a native person on the Settlement who has an outstanding state or federal warrant.

He also wrote search warrants can only be served if a drafted as a search warrant by a tribal prosecutor and, "In all cases, all future search warrants will be carried out by the Meskwaki Nation Police Department." Similarly, only Meskwaki Police can make arrests on outstanding warrants.



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