WA Legal Roundup - WA State Supreme Court: Cigs on Trust Land Outside Res? State Juris. to raid untaxed cigs.
Really, that's all that's to it really. Comenout was operating a smoke shop on trust land outside the res. The cigs didn't have tribal or state tax stamps. 37,000 cartons in the store. Under an agreement, smoke shops in Indian Country to be licensed by the tribe.
This case presents two primary issues. The first is: does the State of Washington have criminal jurisdiction over tribal members selling unstamped cigarettes from an unlicensed store located on trust allotment property lying outside the borders of an Indian reservation?
Now, I'm calling out the clerk here. Never present a roadmap to your decision without providing all parts of the roadmap. A better read would be as follows:
This case presents two primary issues. First, does the State of Washington have criminal jurisdiction over tribal members selling unstamped cigarettes from an unlicensed store located on trust allotment properly lying outside the borders of an Indian Reservation? Second, are the Comenouts whether the Comenouts are exempt from the state cigarette tax as "Indian retailers"? We answer the first in the affirmative, and the second in the negative.
Then move on to your breakdown of each. My legal writing nerdacity is really showing here. I wrote this without checking who wrote the majority. Justice Alexander. Don't know his clerks, and I apologize if this offends you. You can ask Laura, I'm actually a really nice guy. But she will verify, ima nerd.
Moving on to the opinion, Washington State established criminal jurisdiction of Indian Country outside of reservations. State v. Cooper, 130 Wn.2d 770, 928 P.2d 406 (1996), controls, and the facts are pretty similar. So yes, the State does have jurisdiction here.
As to the tax, the contract with their tribe supersedes the general provisions of the statute (as per another statute saying so). RCW 82.24.020(5), if you care to look. Their contract says an Indian Retailer has to be licensed by the tribe, which this one was not. Thus, you're not an Indian Retailer. 9-0, with Judge Cox sitting in Pro Tem for J. Johnson.