Court weighs law aimed at domestic violence on tribal lands

AP News
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Posted: Apr 19, 2016 12:36 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is asking the Supreme Court to uphold a federal law aimed at people who have been convicted of repeated acts of domestic violence on Indian lands.

The case argued at the high court Tuesday tests whether the law and its stiff prison terms can be used against defendants who did not have lawyers in earlier domestic violence convictions in tribal courts.

The federal appeals court in San Francisco threw out a 46-month prison term for defendant Michael Bryant Jr. because his earlier domestic violence convictions were handled in tribal courts on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana without a lawyer.

Several justices seemed skeptical of the argument of Bryant's lawyer. Justice Stephen Breyer said if an earlier conviction is valid, "why can't you use it?"