Federal Judge Dismisses Mille Lacs County's Counterclaim


A federal judge last month dismissed a counterclaim by Mille Lacs County that came in response to the Band's lawsuit filed against the County in November of 2017.

The Band's lawsuit asks the court to declare that, as a matter of federal law, the Band has inherent sovereign authority to establish a police department and to authorize Band police officers to investigate violations of federal, state, and tribal law within the Mille Lacs Indian Reservation as established under its 1855 Treaty.

The complaint also seeks a declaration that under the Deputation Agreement between the Band and the Bureau of Indian Affairs as well as the Special Law Enforcement Commissions,
the Band police officers have federal authority to investigate violations of federal law within the Mille Lacs Indian Reservation and to arrest suspects for violations of federal law. The Band’s complaint also requests that the Court stop the County from taking any actions that interfere with the authority of Band police officers.

Mille Lacs County's counterclaim attempted to include all of the Band’s elected officials in the lawsuit as well as Police Chief Sara Rice and Sergeant Derrick Naumann as individuals, not just as officers.

On May 18, Judge Susan Richard Nelson heard the Band's motion to dismiss the counterclaim, and on September 19, Judge Nelson granted the Band's motion.

Judge Nelson ruled only on the standing argument, agreeing that the County lacks standing to bring its counterclaims. This means that the Band’s elected officials, as well as Chief Rice and Sgt. Naumann, are no longer defendants to a counter- claim in their individual or official capacities.

Judge Nelson reaffirmed the decisions in the County’s 2002 lawsuit, in which the courts held that the County has suffered no injury from the Band’s position regarding the Reservation boundary.