FRESNO – Attorneys for the Lewis/Ayala faction of the Chukchansi Tribe have asked U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence O’Neill to excuse them from participating in any further mandatory settlement conferences, stating that the discussions have reached an impasse “due solely to the Reid Tribal Council’s intransigent focus on a political agenda that has nothing to do with reopening the casino.”
In documents filed on Nov. 19, Robert Rosette, attorney for the Unification Council of Reggie Lewis and Nancy Ayala, argued that his clients have followed the court’s order and participated in good faith in a settlement conference on Oct. 24, though no resolution was reached on that day.
Rosette stated in his filing that his clients have worked “diligently and earnestly,” in an effort to resolve the issues, including initiating and participating in numerous phone calls, email exchanges and settlement proposal discussions with the attorneys for the Reid faction. He says Tribal leaders also met without attorneys present in hopes of reaching a settlement, and continued negotiations with the casino’s note holders and banks, as well as their legal counsel.
Rosette said that his clients believed, on more than one occasion, that they had reached an agreement, only to receive a document from the other parties “that did not properly reflect the negotiations.”
“Because [they were] tiring of a process that increasingly involved what [my clients] believed to be the Reid Tribal Council’s bad faith conduct, [my clients] offered a ‘last best offer’ on November 14, 2014… in which [they] acceded to virtually every substantive demand made by the ‘Reid Tribal Council.'”
Rosette said that the Reid Tribal Council almost immediately rejected his clients’ offer, and countered by demanding additional terms. He also argued that the Reid council has demonstrated that they will continue to pursue their own political agenda related to Tribal enrollment, without addressing the issues at hand; namely reopening the casino and restoring more than 1,000 jobs and the benefits that flow from those jobs to casino employees, the surrounding community, the Tribe, the State of California, and the casino investors.
As for the McDonald faction, Rosette argues that they come to court and to the settlement conference table “with unclean hands, having engaged in the very actions that led to this Court’s and the NIGC’s closure of the Casino. But for the McDonald faction’s actions, there would be no settlement negotiations for it to gain anything from. It is only through this process, which – again – exists only because if its own bad conduct, that the McDonald faction has any hope for legitimacy.”
Rosette stated that the McDonald faction cannot produce a single document from the U.S. Government or Tribal membership recognizing the faction or any authority they may claim.
Rosette argued that the recognized governing body of the Tribe must not be forced to engage in further negotiations with either “anti-majoritarian factions or factions that resort to ‘street justice’ in the name of ‘tribal sovereignty,'” calling both an absolute disgrace to the very concept of true tribal sovereignty. Instead, he said, his clients must focus on reopening the casino.
Judge O’Neill, in a minute order filed on Nov. 20, noted the objection with a reminder that he had indicated in open court, before the first settlement conference was set, that the court would not force a party to the settlement table.
“An objection having been filed, no further settlement conferences will be set until any such objection is withdrawn.”
Rosette also put the court on notice that he will be filing a motion to modify the Preliminary Injunction issued by Judge O’Neill on Oct. 15, asking that there be no orders relating to the distribution of the Tribe’s governmental funds, because that ruling exercised jurisdiction over internal tribal matters.