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Temple v. Roberts

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Western Division

December 4, 2019

CURTIS TEMPLE, Plaintiff,
v.
LAWRENCE ROBERTS, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs; TIM LAPOINTE, Northern Plains Regional Director, Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs; JOHN LONG, Acting Superintendent, Pine Ridge Agency, Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs; LIONEL WESTON, Branch of Realty, Pine Ridge Agency, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of Interior, Defendants.

          ORDER

          JEFFREY L. VIKEN CHIEF JUDGE.

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Curtis Temple brought this action in response to federal officials impounding his livestock in 2015 and 2016. The litigation is currently stayed pending the resolution of plaintiff's administrative appeals to the Interior Board of Indian Appeals. (Docket 183). Prior to the court's order staying the case, plaintiff issued subpoenas to Denise Mesteth and Jolene Provost. (Dockets 173-1 & 173-2). Ms. Mesteth and Ms. Provost, along with the Oglala Sioux Tribe (“OST”) (“tribal movants”), entered an appearance in this case and moved to quash the subpoenas on the ground they infringe on the OST's sovereign immunity. (Dockets 172 & 174). Defendants take no position on the validity of the subpoenas but argue they seek inadmissible discovery. Plaintiff opposes the motion to quash. (Docket 176). For the reasons given below, the court quashes plaintiff's subpoenas.

         I. Facts

         The underlying facts in this case are set out in a previous order. Temple v. Her Many Horses, 163 F.Supp.3d 602, 610-14 (D.S.D. 2016). The court only recites here the facts relevant to the motion to quash.

         Ms. Mesteth served as the Director of the OST Land Office between June 19, 2006, and August 31, 2018. (Docket 177-1 at ¶ 11). In that capacity, Ms. Mesteth was an employee of the OST. Id. at ¶ 12. She was not an employee of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (“BIA”). Id. At some point after August 31, 2018, Ms. Mesteth obtained employment with the BIA as a Realty Specialist. (Docket 175 at p. 4). Ms. Provost is the Range Specialist of the OST Land Office and has served in that capacity since September 15, 1980. (Docket 177-1 at ¶¶ 5-6). She is an employee of the OST, not the BIA. Id. at ¶¶ 7, 10.

         On May 7, 2019, plaintiff subpoenaed Ms. Mesteth and Ms. Provost, commanding them both to appear at depositions on May 20. (Dockets 173-1 & 173-2). Each subpoena also required Ms. Mesteth and Ms. Provost to bring the following documents to the deposition:

1. Written record of the source of your funding for your office from January 1, 2013, to the present.
2. Copies of all documents concerning and [sic] administrative appeal of any kind filed in your office by Curtis Temple from January 1, 2013, to the present regarding any decision of the Allocation Committee.
3. Correspondence from you [sic] office to the BIA and from the BIA to your office concerning any tribal or federal administrative appeal or lawsuit commenced by Curtis Temple from January 1, 2013, to the present.
4. All applications submitted by Curtis Temple to your office for a lease or grazing permit of tribal or allotted land from January 1, 2013, to the present.
5. Records of hearings and written determinations of your office on all applications submitted to your office by Curtis Temple for a lease or grazing permit of tribal or allotted land from January 1, 2013, to the present.
6. Copies of all tribal grazing ordinances in effect from January 1, 2013, to the present.
7. Any correspondence from your office to Curtis Temple from January 1, 203 ...

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