Judge Dale Blea of Madera County has decided to uphold the arrests of fifteen individuals who were detained for their part in a raid on the offices of the now closed Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino. Blea ruled that the county acted in a proper manner when making the arrests, stating the state of California has the ‘right and obligation’ to enforce the criminal laws on tribal lands as they would anywhere else in the state.
Fifteen people were arrested including two members of the tribe, all accused of raiding the casino and detaining members of another security team unlawfully. Those arrested now face charges of kidnapping, assault and additional crimes, with none earning immunity according to Judge Blea.
The Judge stated that he does not find a distinction between crimes committed on tribal lands and crimes committed by ‘rival factions’ as they act upon one another. According to Blea: “Even if some of the defendants were acting as officers of the legitimate tribal government, they cannot use the doctrine of sovereign immunity as a criminal defense against criminal prosecution for the violation of state laws. Equally clear is the role that peace officers may be prosecuted when they effect arrests by the use of unreasonable force.”
Thirteen of the fifteen defendants in the case have now filed claims against the county of Madera, stating the county was in violation of their civil rights, improperly arresting and jailing the individuals. The defendants are claiming loss of work, emotional distress, false imprisonment, civil rights violation, monetary loss and more in their claim.