CASE ANALYSIS

United States v. First, 731 F.3d 998 (9th Cir. 2013).

In United States v. First,  the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the United States District Court for the District of Montana's dismissal of the government's indictment of Lakota Thomas First for misdemeanor firearms possession.   The Ninth Circuit held that misdemeanor convictions obtained in tribal courts may qualify as predicate offenses to a prosecution under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9)  if the defendant was provided whatever right to counsel existed in the misdemeanor proceeding.  This case is significant because it reinforces circuit precedent that any right to counsel in tribal courts may vary from the Sixth Amendment constitutional minimum in state and federal proceedings.  Furthermore, this case also stands for the notion that predicate offenses obtained in tribal court may be valid for further prosecutions if existing safeguards at the tribal court level were provided.  See PDF for complete summary.

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