Poodry v. Tonawanda Band of Seneca Indians

85 F.3d 874 (1996)

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Poodry v. Tonawanda Band of Seneca Indians

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
85 F.3d 874 (1996)

Facts

The Tonawanda Band of Seneca Indians (the tribe) (defendants), a tribe located on a reservation in New York, maintained a traditional governing method in which a council of tribal chiefs (the council) served as representatives for the various clans comprising the tribe. In November and December 1991, Peter L. Poodry and other members of the tribe (the tribe members) (plaintiffs) accused members of the council of misconduct and formed an interim council to replace the council. The tribe members were subsequently served with a notice for their permanent banishment from the tribe due to treason. Three of the tribe members received the notice at their homes, where each was confronted by a group of at least 15 other members of the tribe, who attempted to take the tribe member into custody and remove the tribe member from the reservation. Thereafter, the tribe members were periodically harassed and assaulted by other members of the tribe, and they did not know when they would be forcibly banished from the reservation. The tribe members filed petitions for writs of habeas corpus in a federal district court, alleging that they had been denied rights guaranteed by the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 (ICRA) and thus were entitled to habeas corpus pursuant to § 1303 of the ICRA. The tribe filed motions to dismiss, arguing that because the banishment was the result of an internal tribal conflict, the district court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction. The district court agreed and dismissed the petitions, holding that banishment did not trigger the habeas provision of the ICRA. The tribe members appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Cabranes, J.)

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