United States v. Zepeda

Supplemental Brief for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Ninth Circuit Federal Public and Community Defenders as Amici Curiae in Support of Defendant-Appellant.

Brief filed: 01/19/2015


United States v. Zepeda

9th Circuit Court of Appeals; Case No. 10-10131

Prior Decision

Decision below Case No. 2:08-cr-01329-ROS-1 (Hon. Roslyn O. Silver) (D. Ariz.)


Rogersrequires the government to prove that a section 1153(a) defendant has a blood tie to an Indian tribe. Equal Protection demands that the blood tie be to a federally-recognized tribe – not to a racial group. A naked “blood” tie requirement would violate equal protection principles. An ancestral tie to a federally-recognized tribe is a political affiliation. Overruling Maggi would create a conflict in authority. No court has considered the question posed here—whether the “blood” tie should be political or racial – and concluded, as the government urges, that a mere racial tie is sufficient. The Court should confirm Maggi: Section 1153 requires the government to prove, in part, that a defendant has an ancestral tie to a federally-recognized Indian tribe.

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Charles A. Rothfeld, Paul W. Hughes, Michael B. Kimberly, Breanne A. Gilpatrick, Mayer Brown LLP, Washington, DC; David M. Porter, Sacramento, CA.