Inyo County v. Paiute-Shoshone Indians of the Bishop Community

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Inyo County v. Paiute-Shoshone Indians of the Bishop Community
Seal of the United States Supreme Court
Argued March 31, 2003
Decided May 19, 2003
Full case nameInyo County, California, et al. v. Paiute-Shoshone Indians of the Bishop Community of the Bishop Colony, et al.
Citations538 U.S. 701 (more)
123 S. Ct. 1887; 155 L. Ed. 2d 933
Case history
Prior291 F.3d 549 (9th Cir. 2002)
Court membership
Chief Justice
William Rehnquist
Associate Justices
John P. Stevens · Sandra Day O'Connor
Antonin Scalia · Anthony Kennedy
David Souter · Clarence Thomas
Ruth Bader Ginsburg · Stephen Breyer
Case opinions
MajorityGinsburg, joined by Rehnquist, O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, Souter, Thomas, Breyer
Laws applied
42 U.S.C. § 1983

Inyo County v. Paiute-Shoshone Indians of the Bishop Community, 538 U.S. 701 (2003), was a United States Supreme Court case.


The Bishop Paiute Tribe of California owns and operates the Paiute Palace Casino. The Inyo County District attorney had three casino employees under suspicion of welfare fraud, and asked the casino for their employment records. The casino declined, stating that it was against their privacy policy. Upon finding probable cause, the district attorney obtained a search warrant, authorizing the search of employment records of those three casino employees. Subsequently, the district attorney asked for the records of six more employees. The tribe once again reiterated their privacy policy, but offered up for evidence the last page of each employee's welfare application. The district attorney refused the offer. To ward off additional searches, the tribe filed a suit against the district attorney and the county. They stated that their tribe's status as a sovereign made them immune to state processes under federal law and asserted that the state authorized the seizure of tribal records.

The California district court dismissed the tribe's complaint, holding that the tribal sovereign immunity does not preclude the search and seizure of personnel records. In 2003, the decision was reversed, [a court] holding that the executing of a search warrant against the Paiute-Shoshone tribe interfered with their right to make their own laws, and be governed by them.

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