Alvarez v. Tracy

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Habeas Corpus
  • Date Filed: 12-08-2014
  • Case #: 12-15788
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge N. Smith for the Court; Circuit Judges Kozinski and O'Scannlain,
  • Full Text Opinion

A defendant alleging violations of the Indian Civil Rights Act must exhaust tribal remedies before a federal court will exercise jurisdiction over the claim.

Following Fortino Alvarez’s (“Alvarez”) convictions and sentencing for assault, domestic violence, and misconduct involving a weapon, he challenged the convictions and sentencing by filing a pro se habeas corpus petition under 25 U.S.C. § 1303 alleging violations of the Indian Civil Rights Act (“ICRA”). The district court dismissed Alvarez’s petition, holding it could not exercise jurisdiction over the claim. Alvarez appealed the dismissal. Under Jeffredo v. Macarro, “exhaustion under ICRA is a prerequisite to a federal court’s exercise of its jurisdiction.” The panel interpreted this to mean that all tribal appellate court remedies must be exhausted before the federal court will hear Alvarez’s case. Further, under Jeffredo [the court] will not address a petitioner’s unexhausted claims, unless the petitioner shows that one of the doctrine’s narrow exceptions applies.” Alvarez appealed the denial of his habeas corpus petition to federal court before he exhausted his claims in the tribal court. Alvarez also failed to identify an exception to the exhaustion requirement by not showing that appeal to the tribal court was either unavailable or futile. Due to Alvarez not meeting the exhaustion requirement, this court will not exercise jurisdiction over his appeal and the district court’s ruling will stand. AFFIRMED.

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