State v. Nahee

In State v. Nahee, 155 Ariz. 114, 115, 745 P.2d 172, 173 (App. 1987), the defendant, a member of the Yavapai Apache Tribe, was charged with four felony offenses. Nahee, 155 Ariz. at 115, 745 P.2d at 173. The defendant moved to dismiss the prosecution on the ground that under tribal law, the State of Arizona did not have personal jurisdiction over him because a tribal regulation required that the defendant be released to tribal authorities and an officer with the Bureau of Indian Affairs had turned him over to the Clarkdale, Arizona police. The court granted the motion. Id. The defendant later voluntarily submitted to the jurisdiction of the court "and the charges were reinstated." Id. In the second proceeding, the defendant moved for the suppression of evidence. There was no suppression hearing in the first proceeding. Indeed, there was no motion to suppress filed in the first proceeding. The basis for the motion to suppress in the second proceeding was that the exclusionary rule required suppression due to the violation of the tribal regulation. Id. The issue was "whether the mistakes of the tribal authorities are visited upon the state prosecution in the form of the invocation of the exclusionary rule." Id. at 114, 745 P.2d at 172. The Court rejected this argument and found the evidence admissible. As a prelude to its analysis, the Nahee court noted that "because the State failed to appeal the trial court's order finding that the State of Arizona lacked jurisdiction . . . this ruling is the law of the case and binding on the State in this appeal." Id. at 115, 745 P.2d at 173. The Nahee court made this statement while also stating in a footnote that the earlier decision on the tribal regulation "in fact . . . was erroneous." Id. at 115 n.2, 745 P.2d at 173 n.2. In State v. Nahee, a police officer with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, armed with a tribal warrant, arrested the defendant on the Yavapai Indian Reservation for a crime that had been committed off of the reservation. Id. at 115, 745 P.2d at 173. The police officer transported the defendant to Clarkdale and turned him over to the Clarkdale police. Id. Section 6.35 of the Yavapai Apache Code required the officers to return the defendant to the "Tribal Court for release to off-reservation authorities." Id. The officers failed to comply with this section of the code. Id. When the defendant was brought before the Yavapai County Superior Court, the court dismissed the State's case against the defendant for lack of jurisdiction. Id. In doing so, the court did not rule on any substantive issues. The State failed to timely appeal. Id. Subsequently, the defendant submitted to the jurisdiction of the superior court. Id. Upon submitting to the jurisdiction of the court, the defendant filed a motion to suppress. Id. In his motion, the defendant argued that based upon the court's dismissal for lack of jurisdiction, he had been illegally arrested and the physical evidence obtained as a result of the illegal arrest should be suppressed. Id. The court granted the motion and the State dismissed the case without prejudice and appealed. Id. On appeal, the Court explained that although the trial court erroneously dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction, the ruling was the "law of the case" because the State failed to timely appeal. Id. at 115 n.2, 745 P.2d at 173 n.2. Although this explanation appears to be dicta, it was necessary because had jurisdiction been proper, the defendant's motion to suppress would have failed without further analysis. See id. at 115, 745 P.2d at 173.