COEUR D'ALENE TRIBE, a federally recognized Indian Tribe, Plaintiff-Respondent,
KENNETH JOHNSON and DONNA JOHNSON, Defendants-Appellants.
Opinion No. 109
from the District Court of the First Judicial District of the
State of Idaho, Benewah County. Hon. Scott L. Wayman,
judgment of the district court is affirmed in part,
reversed in part, and remanded for further
Moffatt, Thomas, Barrett, Rock & Fields, Chartered,
Boise, for appellants. Norman M. Semanko argued.
& Malek PLLC, Coeur d'Alene, for respondent. Peter
John Smith, IV argued.
and Donna Johnson appeal the judgment of the district court
in Benewah County recognizing a tribal judgment from the
Coeur d'Alene Tribal Court (Tribal Court). The Johnsons
own land within the Coeur d'Alene Reservation
(Reservation) on the banks of the St. Joe River and have a
dock and pilings on the river. The Coeur d'Alene Tribe
(Tribe) initiated an action in Tribal Court to enforce a
tribal statute which requires a permit for docks on the St.
Joe River within the Reservation. The Johnsons did not appear
and a default judgment was entered against them. The judgment
imposed a civil penalty of $17, 400 and declared that the
Tribe was entitled to remove the dock and pilings. On January
22, 2016, the Tribe filed a petition to have the Tribal Court
judgment recognized in Idaho pursuant to the Enforcement of
Foreign Judgments Act. I.C. §§ 10-1301, et seq.
Following a hearing, the district court held that the Tribal
Judgment was valid and enforceable. We affirm in part,
reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Johnsons own property on the bank of the St. Joe River and
have a dock and pilings that extend into the river from their
property. The Johnsons' property is located within the
Reservation, but the Tribe does not own the Johnsons'
land, and the Johnsons are not members of the Tribe.
5, 2014, the Tribe sent the Johnsons a letter asking them to
remove their dock and pilings or obtain a permit from the
Tribe. The Johnsons neither removed their dock nor obtained a
permit. The Tribe filed suit in the Tribal Court and served
notice of the suit on the Johnsons. The Johnsons did not
appear, and the Tribal Court entered an order of default
against them. The Johnsons were then served with notice of a
hearing to determine damages. Once again, the Johnsons did
not appear, and judgment was entered against them. The April
1, 2015, Tribal Court judgment imposed a civil penalty of
$17, 400 and declared that the Johnsons were trespassing upon
tribally controlled lands and that the Tribe was entitled to
remove the encroachment.
March 2, 2016, the Tribe filed a motion for an order
recognizing the foreign judgment in the district court in
Benewah County. The Johnsons objected, arguing that their
dock and pilings are located above the high water mark as it
existed when the Reservation was set aside in 1873 and that
the Tribal Court lacked jurisdiction. After hearing the
motion, the district court applied this Court's decision
in Sheppard v. Sheppard, 104 Idaho 1, 655 P.2d 895
(1982), and held that the Tribal Court judgment was entitled
to recognition and enforcement. The Johnsons timely appealed.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
of a foreign judgment is "a question of law over which
this Court exercises free review." Burns v.
Baldwin, 138 Idaho 480, 483, 65 P.3d 502, 505 (2003).
district court held that the Tribal Court judgment was
entitled to full faith and credit. In so holding, the
district court properly applied the rule announced by this Court
in Sheppard. There, we held that a tribal judgment
is entitled to full faith and credit pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
section 1738. 104 Idaho at 8, 655 P.2d at 902.That statute
The Acts of the legislature of any State, Territory, or
Possession of the United States, or copies thereof, shall be
authenticated by affixing the seal of such State, Territory
or Possession thereto.
The records and judicial proceedings of any court of any such
State, Territory or Possession, or copies thereof, shall be
proved or admitted in other courts within the United States
and its Territories and Possessions by the attestation of the
clerk and seal of the court annexed, if a seal exists,
together with a certificate of a judge of the court that the
said attestation is in proper form.
Such Acts, records and judicial proceedings or copies
thereof, so authenticated, shall have the same full faith and
credit in every court within the United States and its
Territories and Possessions as they have by law or usage in
the courts of such State, Territory or Possession from which
they are taken.
28 U.S.C. § 1738.
Court "found the phrase 'Territories and
Possessions' broad enough to include Indian tribes."
Sheppard, 104 Idaho at 8, 655 P.2d at 902. The
Johnsons argue that this Court should overrule
Sheppard and apply the Ninth Circuit's analysis
found in Wilson v. Marchington, 127 F.3d
805 (9th Cir. 1997). We will first consider the Johnsons'
request that we overrule Sheppard before deciding
whether the district court erred by recognizing the Tribal
Tribal court judgments are not entitled to full faith and
credit, and Sheppard's holding to the contrary
IV, section 1, of the United States Constitution provides:
Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the
public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other
State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the
Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be
proved, and the Effect thereof.
U.S. Const. art. IV, § 1. "Nothing in debates of
the Constitutional Convention concerning the clause indicates
the framers thought the clause would apply to Indian
tribes." Wilson, 127 F.3d at 808. In
Wilson, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that
28 U.S.C. section 1738 did not extend full faith and credit
to the tribes. Wilson, 127 F.3d at 809. Instead,
that court held that the recognition and enforcement of
tribal judgments rested on principles of comity. Id.
noted above, Sheppard held that the language
"Territory or Possession" in 28 U.S.C. section 1738
was broad enough to include Indian tribes and tribal courts.
Sheppard, 104 Idaho at 8, 655 P.2d at 902. In so
holding, we stated that "[w]e believe that this holding
will facilitate better relations between the ...