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Harkness v. Hyde

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Plaintiff brought action against the defendant who lived on an Indian reservation.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    If an Indian reservation has not assented to inclusion in a territory such as Idaho and suit is brought against someone in that reservation and they object by making a special appearance, that territory will not have jurisdiction.

    Facts.

    The defendant lived on an Indian reservation and was sued by the plaintiff in the district court for the territory of Idaho. The defendant entered a special appearance to object to the lawsuit and moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, which was denied. He responded to the complaint after objecting to the denial. The plaintiff prevailed and the defendant appealed.

    Issue.

    Whether if an Indian reservation has not assented to inclusion in a territory such as Idaho and suit is brought against someone in that reservation and they object by making a special appearance, that territory will not have jurisdiction.

    Held.

    Yes. If an Indian reservation has not assented to inclusion in a territory such as Idaho and suit is brought against someone in that reservation and they object by making a special appearance, that territory will not have jurisdiction.

    Discussion.

    Congress organized the territory of Idaho and when they did so they expressly did not allow jurisdiction in that territory over Indian tribes unless they assented to inclusion in that territory. If they have no assented they are a foreign nation. The territory lacked jurisdiction and the defendant contested jurisdiction. The defendant can only waive the lack of jurisdiction if they do not contest it.


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