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Fritz
Fritz, Attorney
Category: Bankruptcy Law
Satisfied Customers: 302
Experience:  Florida attorney with extensive experience in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 consumer bankruptcy cases
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A question of civil law jurisdiction. Can debts owed to American

Customer Question

A question of civil law jurisdiction. Can debts owed to American Indian individuals be included in Federal Bankruptcy proceedings?

I am a member of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan. This Indian Tribe is a federally recognized Indian nation that claims certain areas of sovereignty. I live in Saint Paul, Minnesota and I am filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in bankruptcy court. I have a civil court decision made against me for $17,000 in the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Court. My question is...Does Federal Bankruptcy Provisions regarding Chapter 7 allow me to list Indian Tribal Civil Court Decisions for dismissal in Federal Bankruptcy Court? In other words do federal bankruptcy, and criminal courts have jurisdiction over Indian Tribal courts? Thank you very much.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Bankruptcy Law
Expert:  Fritz replied 1 year ago.

Fritz :

Hi, I'd like to assist you with your bankruptcy questions this morning.

Fritz :

Q: Can debts owed to American Indian individuals be included in Federal Bankruptcy proceedings?

Fritz :

A: Most likely yes, debts owed to Indian Tribes should be dischargeable in bankruptcy.

Fritz :

If you're receiving pro rata distributions from Indian Gaming (i.e. a monthly or yearly share of casino revenues), the Tribe may have a lien against your distributions. If you're not receiving any distributions, this shouldn't be a problem, as the Indian debt will not attach to any other assets post-discharge.

Fritz :

Most courts looking at this issue have found that Congress has abrogated the sovereign immunity in § 106(a) of the Bankruptcy Code, as Indian tribes are domestic governments. See, e.g. Krystal Energy Co. v. Navajo Nation, 357 F. 3d XXXX - XXXXX of Appeals, 9th Circuit 2004, here: http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=15177971007597128172&hl=en&as_sdt=40005&sciodt=2,10

Fritz :

Q: My question is...Does Federal Bankruptcy Provisions regarding Chapter 7 allow me to list Indian Tribal Civil Court Decisions for dismissal in Federal Bankruptcy Court?

Fritz :

A: Yes, although you're technically listing these judgments for bankruptcy discharge, not dismissal.

Fritz :

Q: In other words do federal bankruptcy, and criminal courts have jurisdiction over Indian Tribal courts?

Fritz :

A: I think what you intended to ask is whether an Indian Tribal court can collect a judgment from you after it has been discharged in Bankruptcy Court. Most courts would say no, the judgment would be unenforceable against you in Tribal court following your bankruptcy discharge, as Congress abrogated the sovereign immunity of Indian tribes in § 106(a) and 101(27) of the Bankruptcy Code.

Fritz :

Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you.

Expert:  Fritz replied 1 year ago.
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