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Lozeau v. Anciaux

Supreme Court of Montana

October 1, 2019

TRAVIS CURTIS LOZEAU, SR., Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
BENJAMIN ANCIAUX, Defendant and Appellee.

          Submitted on Briefs: September 11, 2019

          APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Twentieth Judicial District, In and For the County of Lake, Cause No. DV-19-6 Honorable James A. Manley, Presiding Judge

          For Appellant: Travis Curtis Lozeau, Sr., Self-Represented, Ronan, Montana

          For Appellee: Walter E. Congdon, Civil Deputy Lake County Attorney, Polson, Montana

          OPINION

          Mike McGrath Chief Justice

         ¶1 Pro se Appellant Travis Curtis Lozeau, Sr. ("Lozeau") appeals from a February 15, 2019 Twentieth Judicial District Court order dismissing his complaint for failure to state a claim. We affirm.

         Â¶2 We address the following issues on appeal:

1. Whether the State of Montana properly adopted Public Law 280 and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes consented to its application on the Flathead Indian Reservation.
2. Whether Public Law 280 and Montana's enabling act as applied to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes violates the 1855 Hellgate Treaty.

         PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         ¶3 On January 7, 2019, while detained in the Lake County Jail in Polson, Montana, Lozeau filed a pro se petition for habeas corpus requesting the District Court drop all felony criminal convictions against him, alleging the State of Montana has no jurisdiction as he is an enrolled member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes ("CSKT") who committed a crime within the boundaries of the Flathead Indian Reservation. On January 16, 2019, Appellee Benjamin R. Anciaux ("Anciaux"), the Deputy Lake County Attorney, filed a motion to dismiss the petition as Lozeau failed to state a claim pursuant to M. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) and raising a res judicata issue. On February 15, 2019, after Lozeau failed to respond to Anciaux's motion and brief, the District Court adopted the authority and argument set forth in Anciaux's brief as the basis for its decision and granted Anciaux's motion to dismiss. On March 13, 2019, Lozeau was released from jail and on March 19, 2019, Lozeau filed a notice of appeal.

         ¶4 Lozeau contends that his state criminal convictions for felony offenses committed within the boundaries of the Flathead Indian Reservation are not subject to state jurisdiction because the application of Public Law 83-280, 18 U.S.C. § 1162, 25 U.S.C. § 1321 ("PL-280") by the State was improper and has never been consented to by the CSKT. Lozeau also argues that PL-280 and subsequent Montana enabling statutes violate the 1855 Hellgate Treaty, 12 Stat. 975.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶5 This Court reviews a district court's ruling on a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim de novo. White v. State, 2013 MT 187, ¶ 15, 371 Mont. 1, 305 P.3d 795. In evaluating the motion, we consider the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and will not affirm the district court's decision "unless it appears beyond a doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim that would entitle him to relief." White, ¶ 15. The district court's determination that a complaint failed to state a claim presents a conclusion of law, which is reviewed for correctness. White, ¶ 15. In reviewing a habeas corpus petition, the appellant has the burden to "prove the facts or establish grounds entitling him to relief; to ...


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