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DC Circuit Denies Opponent’s Request for Intervention in Scotts Valley’s litigation against the Interior Department

23 Sep 21

By Peebles Bergin

Peebles Kidder attorneys Patrick R. Bergin and Tim Hennessy recently won another victory for the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians.

In a unanimous decision issued on July 6, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed lower court’s judgment denying the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation’s request to intervene in Scotts Valley’s litigation against the Secretary of the Department of the Interior. 

In August 2016, Scotts Valley Band requested that the Secretary to acquire an undeveloped 128-acre parcel of land in the City of Vallejo into trust status for the benefit of the Tribe and requested a determination that the parcel would be eligible for gaming activity should it go into trust status.  However, the Secretary denied the Scotts Valley request for a gaming determination and the Tribe filed suit in May 2019 challenging the decision.

The Tribe, which presently has no reservation land, seeks to reestablish its homeland, and build a tribal community with housing, a unified governmental headquarters, and economic development ventures including a casino-resort. 

Patrick R. Bergin, who argued the case, said:  “Scotts Valley is very pleased with the decision. The Tribe was restored to federal recognition thirty years ago and to this date it does not have a homeland. The ultimate purpose of the litigation is to create a reservation where Scotts Valley’s members can live, work and thrive together.”

The case is Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians v. U.S. Department of the Interior, case no.: 1:19-cv-01544, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.