MSJM in the News

Headline news featuring our attorneys and cases as reported in newspapers, television, and radio broadcasts across Indian Country.

Tacoma: Dam if we do

"Morisset suggests that the ruling 'sent shivers through the entire industry.' Tribal attorneys have told him that it 'has also resulted in numberous decisions in favor of tribes'."

Is it Hoopa v Yurok, Hoopa & Yurok or none of our damn business?

"Hoopa's attorney, Tom Schlosser, says the Hoopa's own waiver does not prevent it from filing its lawsuit because the settlement act allows each tribe to enforce the act's provisions."

Fish and Chips

"the Trinity Restoration Act set the goal that the fishery would be restored to conditions that existed before the Lewiston and Trinity dams were built"
Tom Schlosser, an attorney for the Hoopa Valley Tribe reached by telephone Tuesday afternoon, reiterated the tribe’s concern about there being no set standards for fish restoration.


Hasting sponsors bill to protect study of Kennewick Man

"could make it easier for tribes to make claims to get remains back that currently are in an institution"

Ruling Could Give More Say to State Tribes

The tribes signed the treaty with assurances that they would be able to continue to rely on natural resources, including vast forests and streams teeming with salmon, said Mason Morisset, a Tulalip Tribes attorney.

Culvert Ruling Backs Tribes

"This could be very big," said Mason Morisset, an attorney representing tribes in the case. "If it stands, you will see tribes assert themselves on a broad range of activities to protect the habitat. Whether it's clearing wetlands or building roads and developments ..., if we can show you are going to have a net loss of habitat, that is a treaty rights violation."


Ruling Could Cost State Millions

"I think it is a major addition to the treaty rights cases," Morisset said. "It is the other half of the treaty we said needs to be secured. Not only does the state have to allow the tribes to take their share of their fish, but the state cannot allow the fish runs to be destroyed if it affects the tribal share."

Judge Rules Against Quechan in Refinery Land Transfer Case

Frank R. Jozwiak, the attorney representing the Quechan in the case, said, "(Teilborg's ruling ) is under review. We have not had an opportunity to study the ruling or consult with the tribe."

Judge Refuses to Allow Other Parties into Tribe Settlement with Lima

Eastern Shawnee attorney Rob Roy Smith, of Seattle, said the tribe is looking to move forward and is waiting for the judge to give the final approval.

Activity halts on land for oil refinery

With the recent court hearing, the defendants agreed to the temporary restraining order sought by the tribe, said Frank R. Jozwiak, the attorney representing the Quechans in the case.

Shawnee Claiming victory in land case

According to the tribe's attorney Mason D. Morisset, recognizing the settlement means Eastern Shawnee can now take the next step in developing casinos.

Tribe claims it's right where it wants to be with land claims

Tribe attorney Mason D. Morisset said Carr's willingness to oversee the settlements was a win for the tribe and still meant it could approach the U.S. Department of the Interior to have the land taken into trust.

Tribal warfare between Hoopa and Yurok go on and on

"Here we go again," said the tribe's longtime attorney, Thomas Schlosser. "The only thing the Interior Department has accomplished here is to create another round of litigation."

Quechan file suit to stop refinery land transfer

The bureau's environmental impact statement fails to "adequately evaluate the oil fefinery project and the associated impacts to cultural and environmental resources," according to the Quechan Tribe's lead attorney, Frank Jozwiak of Morisset, Schlosser, Jozwiak and McGaw of Seattle, Wash., in the statement.

Tribes pursue rights in court

Mason Morisset, an attorney for the Tulalip Tribes, said he'd speak to Tulalip leaders about the offer, but he said it's unclear whether such talks would be fruitful. "This has been going on for years."

Tribe names Lawrence in land-claim lawsuit

"Potentially, we could have sued tens of thousands of people, but that's absurd so what we did was bring a cross section," Morisset said.

Ohio wants to rejoin tribe's lawsuit over land for casino

"We dismissed them, " Morisset said. "I don't know why we would want them back."

Canadian firm liable under Superfund law for non-U.S. dumping

"While any Superfund-controlled cleanup of the Columbia River would involve polluted areas only in the United States, the group filed its brief in protest of the Canadian government's failure to control Teck's hazardous waste disposal activities,"  said Mr. Smith, a senior associate at Morisset, Schlosser, Jozwiak & McGaw in Seattle.

Tribe drops state from lawsuit

"We're trying to get the case in order and simplify it here, and this is one of the steps we're taking," Morisset said.

Tribe seeks day in Court

Many of the defendants sought the lawsuit's dismissal in separate motions, some arguing that the claim is too old, others that it's not old enough, and none with valid arguments, wrote Mason Morisset and Rob Roy Smith, attorneys for the tribe.

Filing deadline passes in tribe's federal lawsuit

"We're filing a responsive brief," said Mason Morisset, attorney for the tribe. "Today is the day for our files, our briefs. It's just a standard response to the motion (to dismiss.)"

Council ok's casino resolution

Council had a special meeting with Chief Charles Enyart and Mason Morisset, lead counsel for the tribe.

Tribe gives city time

Mason Morisset, lead counsel for the Eastern Shawnee of Oklahoma, told City Council Friday morning it wasn’t fair to put pressure on them to get the 14-page contract signed by Monday. Morisset said the deadline was real – and that the judge has set a “very busy” brief schedule.
“I wanted to go to him with some signed agreements to show that a settlement is possible,” he explained.


Shinnecock Nation Is Recognized, Federal ruling could be a step forward

Tom Schlosser, a partner in the firm Morisset, Schlosser, Jozwiak, and McGaw, which specializes in federal Indian law, said that "any determination of federal recognition isn't going to mean much until federal agencies accept it." Mr. Schlosser said a 1975 case, in which the Passamaquoddy Tribe successfully sued the Secretary of the Interior for refusing to recognize it, could be a relevant model for further action by the Shinnecocks, if there is resistance to add them to the federal register.

Fate of Kennewick Man study unclear

Rob Roy Smith, a Seattle attorney who represented the tribes in the fight over Kennewick Man, said Native Americans would still have to demonstrate a "cultural affiliation" with any human remains they claim. And the new wording would not apply retroactively to Kennewick Man.
"I think what you're hearing is nothing more than a scare tactic," he said.

Scientists begin probe of Kennewick Man

"What the tribes want now is just to have a seat at the table," Smith said. "They want to know what's going on. That is a right that is being denied them by both the scientists and the United States."

Eastern Shawnee suit claims Ohio land rights

“Tribal lawyer Mason D. Morisset of Seattle, Wash., said the aboriginal hunting and
gathering claim could ultimately lead to new uses for the 11,000 square miles of land - from casinos to simply a museum honoring the Shawnee.”

Do Indians own Massillon?

Mason Morisset, one of the attorneys representing the Shawnee tribe, is one of the best in the country at this type of litigation, Casey said. 

Kennewick Man Scientists Protest Bill

Rob Roy Smith, an attorney for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington state, said the bill would apply to future archaeological finds, and would strengthen the case of tribes across the country that want to claim and bury ancient remains. "This is a congressional effort to right a wrong ... that was identified through the Kennewick Man case," Smith said.

Water Battle Ends In Central Valley

"The tribes were fighting for the [2000 plan] and against unnecessary environmental analysis," said Schlosser, a lawyer with Morisset, Schlosser, Jozwiak & McGaw. "We were the only party arguing that on appeal." … The 9th Circuit in July unanimously rejected demands by plan opponents to conduct further environmental studies.

Kennewick Man Update

"The tribes have a legal right to be consulted and play a role in crafting the study plan," Smith said. "The tribes are discouraged but not defeated. The tribes remain hopeful that they will be included in discussions with the United States and the scientists, and that they will eventually have the remains of their ancestor returned to them."

Holy Cross Magazine: Rob Roy Smith 1997

“Few things are more rewarding than knowing that I am fighting for the rights, beliefs and needs of an underserved segment of our society.”

Valley Voice: Tribal gaming insinuations unacceptable

Since when did the Indian tribes assume responsibility for California’s "fiscal mess"? What did California do to help the Indian tribes before casino gaming allowed tribes to become economically self-sufficient? Why does the writer believe that the tribes have this responsibility to the state?

Bones of contention

The argument by Rob Roy Smith, attorney for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, that "something that is indigenous . . . cannot lose indigenousness over time" may be technically correct.

Measure could block Kennewick Man study

Even if the bill is enacted -- a long shot at best, given congressional leaders' intent to adjourn early this month -- it is not clear that it would apply to Kennewick Man, said Rob Roy Smith, an attorney for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation.

Tribes to vote Saturday

"This is truly a grassroots effort.  It's an effort by a diverse group of deeply respected [Cheyenne and Arapaho] tribal members who have experience and integrity and great insight into what has happened in the past and a vision for the future," McGaw said.

Hupa Indians battle to reclaim Trinity River

The seeds of the Hupas' victory were planted in the 1980s, when they began hiring some well-connected and highly respected advocates, including Seattle attorney Tom Schlosser, who specializes in tribal law  . . .

9th Circuit OK's Trinity River Restoration

"It looks like a total victory," said attorney Thomas Schlosser, representing the Hoopa Valley Tribe in the case. "It looks like restoration of the river can go forward unimpeded."

Alaska lawmakers jump into Hawaii dry dock dispute

Tom Schlosser, attorney for Tanadgusix, said the GSA debarment is misguided and would destroy the company…."It was perfectly clear to GSA's officers," Schlosser said. "St. Paul Island isn't really in the shipping lanes."

Highway measure could affect St. Paul

Schlosser, in recent legal documents, notes that another section of the transfer document says the dry dock is to be conveyed "as is, where is" and "delivery is made at the present location of the property." So the contract clearly allows and even requires the dry dock to stay in Hawaii, Schlosser said.

Disillusioned Makah suing Kalakala owner

"It is there without the tribe's consent or permission," says Makah attorney Frank Jozwiak of Seattle. "It's not about (damages), it's about this rusting hulk tied to our dock that could cause damage to the dock and to the environment if it sinks."  Kalakala ferry heading south to its new home

Ambitious deal aims to heal two tribes' rift

Schlosser said the involvement of a professional mediator gave the tribes a neutral setting to "listen to each other."  …"Until the Yurok Tribe gets some of their traditional land back, they are not going to feel right with the world," he said.

Court upholds Kennewick Man decision

"The court has done a great injustice to Indian country," Smith said. The problem as Smith sees it, is that tribes must now conduct studies of remains to determine their antiquity in order to claim remains. Though some tribes do not have a problem with examining remains, many do, and would be forced to go against their own religious principles in order to gain custody.

Boldt ruling's effect felt around the world

“A number of commentators have called the Boldt Decision the most significant Indian rights case in the last century," said Mason Morisset, a Seattle attorney who successfully defended the Boldt ruling before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1979 -- defeating then-Washington Attorney General Slade Gorton's appeals to overturn it. "I would have to say they're probably right."

Court rejects tribe's $6 billion claim

Mason Morisset, the tribe's lawyer, pointed out that the 1924 license for the project authorized the city to flood only 8.8 acres of federal land near the reservation…. Morisset said the ruling indicates that the power lines are on the reservation illegally, and that as long as they're there, Tacoma Power is trespassing. He said the tribe might seek damages or require the city to pay to keep the lines there.

Samish seek fishing rights, calling treaty 'soul of the tribe'

Attorney Mason Morisset for the Tulalip Tribes decried the notion of meddling with the complex rules, court orders and inter-tribal agreements governing how the fish harvest is divided. …"The idea that this group (the Samish) will come in and not disrupt anything will be poppycock," said Morisset.

City defends shoreline plan

Attorney Sharon Haensly, representing the Tulalip Tribes, the city of Everett' s next- door neighbor, said the Shoreline Management Act calls for the enhancement and restoration of fish habitat. The city’s plan does not provide adequate buffer zones to shield sensitive areas from development, Haensly said.

The Price of a River

“Attorney Mason Morisset, and the entire Skokomish Tribe, are suing the City of Tacoma over two dams they say caused $5.8 billion worth of damage to the Skokomish River…A lot of the problem was that they felt they were doing God's work in bringing electricity to the masses" he says. "It was important that electrical generating facilities were being developed—there’s no question about that--but to do that by destroying the Skokomish Indian people was wrong.”