California Sets Standards for Tribal Subsidiariesí Sovereign Immunity
California is home to 100+ tribes. Tribal corporations will find difficulty in asserting sovereign immunity as a result of the recent court decision.
The California Supreme Court issued a major sovereign immunity decision in December 2016 that directly impacts California tribes. The Court identified five factors that should be considered to determine whether an entity is an arm of the tribe entitled to share the tribe’s immunity. It also clarified the burden of proof that applies when a tribal corporation asserts sovereign immunity. This decision will likely influence other courts as well.
Brian Pierson is a shareholder with Godfrey & Kahn, S.C. As leader of the firm's Indian Nations team, his primary objective is to draw on the knowledge and experience of Godfrey & Kahn's attorneys to assist tribes in formulating and implementing strategies that strengthen tribal sovereignty, with a particular focus on business development, environmental protection, renewable energy and housing development. Mr. Pierson frequently advises tribes on tribal constitutional, ordinance and governance matters. He has extensive experience representing developers, lenders and others who partner with tribes to pursue Indian country business opportunities.
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