Negonsott v. Samuels

RESPONDENT:Samuels, Warden, et al.
LOCATION:Office of Walter Nixon, Souther District Court of MS

DOCKET NO.: 91-5397
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1991-1993)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 507 US 99 (1993)
ARGUED: Jan 11, 1993
DECIDED: Feb 24, 1993

Pamela S. Thompson – on behalf of the Petitioner
Robert T. Stephan – on behalf of the Respondents
William K. Kelley – on behalf of the United States as amicus curiae supporting the Respondents

Facts of the case


Media for Negonsott v. Samuels

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – January 11, 1993 in Negonsott v. Samuels

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – February 24, 1993 in Negonsott v. Samuels

William H. Rehnquist:

I have the opinion of the Court to announce in Negonsott against Samuels.

Here, the petitioner, a member of the Kickapoo Tribe and a resident of the Kickapoo reservation in Kansas, was convicted of the state law offense of aggravated battery for shooting another Indian on the Kickapoo reservation.

He claims that the Federal Government has exclusive jurisdiction to prosecute him for the shooting under the Indian Major Crimes Act.

But both, the Supreme Court of Kansas and the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, ruled against him.

In an opinion filed with the Clerk today, we hold that a law called the Kansas Act confers jurisdiction on the State to prosecute the petitioner for aggravated battery.

The Act’s first sentence which confers jurisdiction on Kansas over offenses committed by or against Indians on Indian reservations to the same extent as its courts have jurisdiction over offenses committed elsewhere within the State, unambiguously grants Kansas jurisdiction to prosecute both major and minor offenses committed on Indian reservations.

In the most logical meaning of the Act’s second sentence, which provides that nothing in the Act shall deprive Federal Courts of their jurisdiction over offenses defined by the law of the United States is that Federal Court shall retain their jurisdiction to try federal offenses committed by or against Indians on Indian reservations in accordance with the Major Crimes Act, while Kansas Court shall have jurisdiction to try individuals for the same conduct when it violates state law.

This reading is the only one that gives effect to every word and clause of the statute and it is supported by the Act’s legislative history.

So the judgment of Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit is affirmed.

Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas join all but part 2B of the opinion, which is otherwise unanimous.