United States v. Dann

PETITIONER: United States
LOCATION: United States District Court House

DOCKET NO.: 83-1476
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 470 US 39 (1985)
ARGUED: Nov 05, 1984
DECIDED: Feb 20, 1985

John D. O'Connell - on behalf of respondents
Robert A. Mc Connell - on behalf of the petitioner
Robert A. McConnell - for petitioner

Facts of the case


Media for United States v. Dann

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 05, 1984 in United States v. Dann

Warren E. Burger:

The Court will hear arguments next in United States against Dann.

Mr. McConnell, I think you may proceed when you are ready.

Robert A. Mc Connell:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court--

Warren E. Burger:

You may raise that lecturn if you would like.

Other way.

Robert A. Mc Connell:

--Thank you.

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court, this case comes before this Court on writ of certiorari to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

It concerns the finality effect of Section 22(a) of the Indian Claims Commission Act.

Section 22(a) states that payment of a claim in accordance with the Act

"shall be full discharge of the United States of all claims and demands touching any of the matters involved in the controversy. "

The court below, the Ninth Circuit, determined that payment had not taken place in accordance with Section 22(a).

We believe that that decision was in error and should be reversed.

After a short statement of the facts, we will explain why we feel the Court of Appeals should be reversed and the consequences of such a reversal.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

May I ask, Mr. McConnell, do I understand there is some kind of Congressional consideration of a settlement of this litigation or something?

Robert A. Mc Connell:

The respondents would state that there needs to be Congressional--

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

No, is there in fact anything pending in the way of a Congressional solution?

Robert A. Mc Connell:

--No, there is not.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

There is not.

Robert A. Mc Connell:

In this case, it is important to know there were actually two cases, one, the first case before the Indian Claims Commission, and the second case, this one here, both in which... both involved a claim of title, specifically, Western Shoshone title to lands in Nevada.

Here, the respondents have a patented homestead in Nevada, and on that homestead land, which is not in dispute here, they have their homes, they have other structures, they have fenced in areas, and indeed they have their water supply for their cattle operation.

It is on contiguous federal public lands next to the homestead that they have had their cattle grazing without a permit, a Bureau of Land Management permit.

It is because they have been grazing without a permit that we find that wrongful, and it is because of that that we brought the ejectment action which started this case.

Harry A. Blackmun:

Mr. McConnell, suppose we affirm, and I will give you the same question, suppose we reverse?

What happens?

Doesn't Congress still have to act?

Robert A. Mc Connell:

The only remaining thing here, it is our position, is that Congress will eventually have to take an affirmative action, affirmatively act to pass legislation to distribute, to distribute funds that have already been paid.

We draw major significance and a distinction between payment and distribution, but that is the act that Congress would have to deal with, is distribution.

Harry A. Blackmun:

Certainly whatever we decide here does not tie the hands of Congress, does it?

Robert A. Mc Connell:

No, that is correct.

Harry A. Blackmun:

Are we spinning our wheels in this case?