The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals published its opinion in United States v. Diaz on Tuesday, May 8, 2012.
The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision. Petitioner was convicted of knowingly leaving the scene of a car accident where she hit and killed a pedestrian. The accident occurred on the Pojoajue Pueblo Indian reservation. She was charged with committing a crime in Indian Country. On appeal, among other issues, Petitioner contended that the federal court lacked jurisdiction over the crime because the government failed to prove that the victim was not an Indian, a jurisdictional requirement.
The Court concluded that the government met its burden of proof. The testimony of the victim’s father provided enough evidence for a jury to conclude the victim was not an Indian for purposes of the statute. The Court also concluded that the district court did not err in its rulings on various other evidentiary and trial issues.