Federally recognized American Indian tribes are sovereign entities with the right to self-government. As sovereigns, they are responsible for economic development, financial solvency and the general welfare of their members. Importantly, tribes also have sovereign immunity, which makes it difficult to sue a tribe or a tribal entity, such as a casino, in state or federal court.
The Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 (IRA) provided American Indian tribes with the ability to establish an organized form of government and the authority to charter organizations for economic activity. If a tribe charters a tribal corporation under the IRA, the tribe and the corporation are immune from civil lawsuits unless they specifically waive their immunity.
Some American Indian tribes have created casinos on their reservations as tribal corporations. Accordingly, if someone is injured at the casino or by the tribal corporation’s action, the tribe or corporation cannot be sued in state or federal court unless the tribe agrees to it. Therefore, most lawsuits against a tribe or tribe entity like a casino may only be pursued in tribal court.
Unique Tribal Court Rules
As self-governing entities, many American Indian tribes have established tribal courts to carry out important legal functions. All tribal courts have different rules and procedures, and they can vary greatly from state and federal court.
For example, in some Arizona tribal courts, only a limited number of attorneys may be admitted to appear. In some tribal courts, attorneys must be recommended by a tribal corporation or bar association before they may advocate for their clients.
Some tribal courts do not allow attorneys at all, so a person seeking to make a claim must do so alone. In addition, a jury trial is not always guaranteed.
Representation by an attorney with experience in cases involving American Indian tribes in Arizona is invaluable when appearing in tribal court. A knowledgeable lawyer also can provide assistance for claims where attorneys are not allowed to appear by drafting documents and guiding clients through tribal court procedures and negotiations.
Indian Tribal Government Relations
Trust and long-standing relationships with the state and sovereign nations have been the driving force behind our Tribal government relations practice. Our firm collectively brings expertise in government relations and ancillary areas, which enable us to provide extremely seasoned attorneys to help our clients.
Gaming law is a particular area of focus of our Tribal government relations attorneys. Burch & Cracchiolo represents the State of Arizona and has represented gaming vendors and Tribal governments in five Western States as well as Tribal gaming offices. We have extensive experience in Indian gaming and gaming regulation, and have played an integral part in negotiating tribal-state gaming compacts and intergovernmental agreements. The firm has also drafted and applied gaming regulations and ordinances, and assisted gaming regulators. Several of our attorneys are admitted to practice before Tribal courts and are members of Tribal bar organizations.
Burch & Cracchiolo has represented Tribes in litigation on a wide range of subjects, including gaming, sovereignty issues, and compact legislation and proposition challenges. With respect to the internal workings of Tribal governments, the firm has assisted Tribes in forming and applying internal policies and procedures, addressing employment issues and drafting ordinances. Burch & Cracchiolo’s attorneys collectively provide a great deal of expertise in government relations and ancillary areas. This enables the firm to provide extremely seasoned attorneys who can help a client directly or through its existing counsel.
Business litigation attorneys provide services for our clients in regard to disputes in a full array of disputes related to contracts, business torts, partnerships, professional malpractice, trademarks, franchise, AZRAC and federal RICO, health care, securities litigation, trade secrets, collections, covenants not to compete, Uniform Commercial Code, and various other business related matters.
Administrative law necessitates that the firm you choose be extremely knowledgeable regarding the governmental decision-making process. Burch & Cracchiolo attorneys are particularly well suited to perform this work. Historically, our firm has handled a broad range of matters at the local, county, state and federal levels.
We are skilled in representing clients in a variety of administrative proceedings before various state boards and agencies. These agencies include the Arizona Corporation Commission, the Arizona Registrar of Contractors, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, the Arizona Department of Health Services, the Arizona Board of Medical Examiners, the State Bar of Arizona, the Arizona Racing Commission, the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control, the Arizona Department of Transportation, the State Land Department, the Arizona Department of Insurance, the Arizona Department of Water Resources and the Arizona Department of Revenue.
In addition to this work, attorneys at Burch & Cracchiolo have an extensive collection of knowledge in assisting clients in processing administrative applications and requests such as liquor licenses, contractors’ licenses, environmental permits, and land use/right-of-way matters. The firm also has experience in gaming law and represents Tribes in five western states, gaming vendors, and the State of Arizona with respect to Tribal gaming.
At the county and city level, attorneys at Burch & Cracchiolo are accomplished in representing clients in connection with matters involving approvals required for real property development efforts and commercial business operations. Finally, attorneys at Burch & Cracchiolo often deal with matters such as appealing real property tax assessments and seeking development entitlements.