HELENA — The U.S. government can prosecute misdemeanor driving offenses on Indian reservations, a federal magistrate judge ruled Tuesday in rejecting a request to dismiss charges against a Blackfeet tribal leader and Montana state senator.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Strong said the federal government shares jurisdiction with tribal governments. He rebuffed arguments by Shannon Augare's attorney, who said the federal government's case against the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council member and Democratic senator was an intrusion of tribal sovereignty.

Augare is charged with DUI, reckless driving and obstruction of a peace officer. He is accused of fleeing a Glacier County sheriff's deputy during a May traffic stop on U.S. Highway 2 within the northwestern Montana reservation's boundaries.

Joe McKay, an attorney for the tribe who is representing Augare, had argued the Blackfeet has exclusive jurisdiction in prosecuting victimless crimes that involve enrolled tribal members.

But Strong cited cases in which other courts have allowed federal prosecutions of such crimes in ruling that tribes and the federal government have joint jurisdiction.

Strong previously set a trial date for Nov. 7.

McKay's phone rang unanswered Tuesday. He did not return an email query for comment about the ruling.

Prosecutors are pursuing the case under the Assimilative Crimes Act, which allows them to apply state laws to offenses committed in federal enclaves that are not specifically addressed in federal law.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Weldon said in a hearing last week that the law includes Indian reservations.

Misdemeanor traffic offenses such as drunken driving are usually handled by tribal justice systems. But after several weeks of investigating whether to charge Augare with a crime, Blackfeet chief prosecutor Carl Pepion turned the case over to the federal prosecutors.

Tribal leaders have said Pepion was not authorized to do so. McKay warned that a ruling allowing Augare's prosecution will subject other Indians to the possibility of dual prosecution by federal and tribal courts for misdemeanor crimes.

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(1) comment

billyjack

1.He and his lawyer DO NOT have any support of the BLACKFEET!!
2.augare was a board member of the 10 million dollar theft from the poorest of the poor children in which his daddy was the head of the POKA crime family, he needs to be indicted also.
3.he sat on the judicial committee and used those connections to get rivals indicted/charged.
4.he commited election fraud against all Montanans as all his records show he lived out of his senate district in great falls and all the democraps and republicans were given the court case his own judge dismissed.
5.has used felons and sellouts to physically harm elderly who along with the willie wanker administration and the BIA has stolen private land and millions of dollars.
6.he throws out max buacus and jon testers names as his backers and friends who he says will get his homeland security and the national guard to harm any opposition to his corruption.
7.covered his chief of porks brother permanemtly injuring a minor child and student body president while he sat and watched from the patrol car and the BIA said this was normal...
8.his mother,POKA MOMMA, WHY NO CHARGES from this and other misprisons.
9.hid his other brother from the law for his 4th dui in which he owes the state a year and a day in the federal gladiator school
10.if the so called willie wanker administration thinks the people are going away sorry the people are given documents almost daily of their thefts and other crimes that HAVE NO STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS.
CMON MONTANA JOIN UP AND LETS RID OURSELVES OF THIS NATIONAL EMBARASSMENT ,ITS IN EVERY MAJOR PAPER AND MAKES US LAUGHED AT LIKE WE ALL ARE OK WITH HIS ACTIONS,WHY LET THE DEMOCRAPS SHIELD HIM AND MAKE HIS DRUNKENESS OUR PROBLEM.
LET START A ONLINE PETITION TO SHOW WE WILL NOT TOLERATE DRUNK DRIVING BY ANYONE!!!!

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