Miranda v. Braatz

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Indian Law
  • Date Filed: 08-17-2011
  • Case #: 10-15308
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: District Judge Sammartino for the Court; Circuit Judges Schroeder and Bea
  • Full Text Opinion

Since the Indian Civil Rights Act only has a one-year sentencing cap for “any one offense” and not a one-year sentencing cap for crimes stemming from a single transaction, the tribal member’s 910 day sentence was proper since the member had eight separate offenses with which she was charged.

Beatrice Miranda (Miranda), a member of the Pascua Yaqui Indian Tribe, was charged with eight violations of the Pascua Yaqui Tribal Criminal Code after chasing a teenage minor with a knife. The Tribal Court found her guilty of all eight charges and she was sentenced to a determinate term of 910 days imprisonment. Miranda appealed to the Pascua Yaqui Tribe Court of Appeals, arguing that her sentence violated the Indian Civil Rights Act (ICRA). The court rejected her claims. Miranda then filed an amended writ of habeas corpus alleging a violation of ICRA. The judge granted Miranda’s motion for summary judgment under Spears, which the judge read to implicate that congress did not intend for tribal courts to be able to impose “multiple consecutive sentences for criminal violations arising out of a single transaction”. The district court adopted the magistrate judge’s reasoning and granted Miranda’s amended petition. The court also ordered the tribal court to reduce Miranda’s sentence and release her. Respondents’ appealed to the Ninth Circuit to determine whether the district court erred in interpreting ICRA to prohibit tribal courts from imposing consecutive sentences that cumulatively exceed one year for multiple violations arising from one transaction. Although Miranda argues that the Respondents waived their right to appeal by filing untimely objections, the Ninth Circuit determined that under well-established law, failure to file objections does not waive the right to appeal conclusions of law. With regard to the Respondents’ appeal, the Ninth Circuit determined that ICRA unambiguously permits tribal courts to impose up to a one-year term of imprisonment for each discrete criminal transaction and that since Miranda had multiple violations the sentence was proper. REVERSED.

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