from the Iowa District Court for Tama County, Richard Vander
State appeals dismissal of misdemeanor charges based upon
magistrate's interpretation of federal law governing
jurisdiction over crimes committed on the Meskwaki
J. Miller, Attorney General, Aaron Rogers, Assistant Attorney
General, and Brent D. Heeren, County Attorney, for appellant.
G. Daufeldt of Daufeldt Law Firm, Conroy, for appellee.
E. Deegan Jr., United States Attorney, Lisa C. Williams,
Assistant United States Attorney, and Ann O'Connell
Adams, Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, for amicus
curiae United States.
A. Canterbury, Assistant Attorney General, and Christopher M.
Nydle, Lead Prosecutor, for amicus curiae Sac & Fox Tribe
of the Mississippi in Iowa.
case, an officer of the Meskwaki Nation Police Department
filed two cases in Iowa District Court for Tama County
alleging that Jessica Rae Stanton committed the misdemeanor
crimes of trespass, possession of drug paraphernalia, and
violation of a no-contact order while on the Meskwaki
review of the complaints, a magistrate concluded that recent
federal legislation removed state jurisdiction for crimes
committed on the Settlement. As a result, the magistrate
dismissed the three pending misdemeanor charges and assessed
costs against the Meskwaki Nation. The magistrate further
advised that the Tama County Sheriff should consult with the
county attorney to determine whether prisoners such as the
defendant should even be received and retained in custody by
the Tama County Sheriff. The district court further stated
that tribal police officers should be instructed by tribal
judicial officers to cease and desist from charging persons
with violations of the Iowa Code as such charges "will
only serve to clog state courts and result in the imposition
of court costs upon the Meskwaki Tribe for cases which must
granted the State's application for discretionary review
and expedited consideration of the matter in light of the
importance of the issues pending in the case. For the reasons
expressed below, we reverse the dismissal of the charges,
vacate the remaining portions of the order of the district
court, and remand the case to the district court.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
January 1, 2019, the Meskwaki police filed complaints
alleging that Stanton committed the crime of trespass in
violation of Iowa Code section 716.8(1) (2018), possession of
drug paraphernalia in violation of Iowa Code section
124.414(2), and violation of a no-contact order in violation
of Iowa Code section 664A.7. In all three complaints, the
defendant's race, gender, height, and weight were
complaint alleging possession of drug paraphernalia stated
that "Jessica had a glass pipe that was clear/white in
color. [T]he glass pipe had drug residue in it." The
location of the offense was listed as 1504 305th Street in
complaint alleging violation of a no-contact order stated
that "Jessica and the protected party Joshua arrived at
the casino together. They drove to the casino together."
As with the complaint for possession of drug paraphernalia,
the location of the offense was listed as 1504 305th Street
in Tama, Iowa.
complaint for trespass simply stated that the violation is
"Trespass 1st offense." The complaint does not
provide further details about the alleged offense. For
example, it does not state the owner of the allegedly
trespassed property or its location.
magistrate signed an order sua sponte on the same day the
charges were filed. The order was filed the following day.
The magistrate noted that the defendant was in custody and
the complaints were issued by a Meskwaki police officer
"for conduct which allegedly took place on the Meskwaki
Settlement." The magistrate also stated that
"[f]ederal legislation was recently enacted which
removed state jurisdiction for crimes committed on the
Settlement." As a result, the magistrate reasoned that
lack of state jurisdiction "prohibits tribal police
officers, as well as Iowa peace officers, from initiating
state criminal charges for conduct on the Settlement
regardless of the race or ethnic background of any potential
Defendant." Additionally, the magistrate declared ...