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Senators seek to clarify jurisdiction

Feb. 4, 2005 at 12:40 PM

SANTA FE, N.M., Feb. 4 (UPI) -- A bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate that would clarify the jurisdiction over crimes committed on American Indian lands in New Mexico.

A series of conflicting court rulings had made it unclear whether federal, state or tribal law-enforcement officials have jurisdiction on private lands within Indian pueblos, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported Friday.

The legislation would amend the Indian Pueblo Land Act of 1924, which permitted the transfer of 70,000 acres of land to private owners.

Several crimes on those disputed lands in recent years have stalled in court because of questions about where they should be prosecuted.

"This legislation would make it clear that there is no place in our state where a person can commit a crime and expect to get away with it," said Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M.

The bill recognizes the pueblos' authority over certain criminal offenses committed by a member of the pueblo or another federally recognized tribe, said Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M.

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