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State Court Decisions

Penobscot Nation v. Stilphen 461 A.2d 478 (Me. 1983)

In 1982, the Penobscot Nation filed for injunctive relief asserting in part that MIA Section 6206(1) protects against State interference in internal tribal matters. The Court rejected the Penobscot Nation argument. As a result, the State view that the Penobscot Nation beano operation was subject to State law under 30 MRSA §6204 prevailed.

Great Northern Paper v. Penobscot Nation, 770 A.2d 574 (Me. 2001)

Three paper corporations sued the Penobscot Nation and Passamaquoddy Tribe seeking documents under the Maine Freedom of Access Act. The Court had to decide whether the Maine Freedom of Access Act, 1 M.R.S.A. §§ 401-410 (1989 & Supp. 2000), which is ordinarily applicable to municipalities and other components of state government, is applicable to the Penobscot Nation and the Passamaquoddy Tribe. The Court found that when the Tribes are engaged in the deliberative processes of self-governance, the Maine Freedom of Access Act does not apply due to 30 MRSA §6206(1). Conversely, the Court decided when the Passamaquoddy Tribe and Penobscot Nation act in their municipal capacity “with persons or entities other than their tribal membership, such as the state or federal government, the Tribes may be engaged in matters that are not ‘internal tribal matters.’”

State of Maine v. Beal, 4th Dist. Ct. No. 96-957 et seq.

Thirteen Passamaquoddy fishers were charged with harvesting marine resources without a license and other offenses. The Passamaquoddy Tribe hired an attorney to defend the Passamaquoddy fishers charged in June of 1997 and the 13 cases were joined into one: State v. Beal. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the case based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction over Passamaquoddy Tribe fishers. That motion to dismiss was rejected by District Court Judge John Romei.

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