Arts & Entertainment, Government, and Law

Gun Lake Casino wins in federal court

July 3, 2015
| By Pete Daly |
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(As seen on WZZM TV 13) David Patchak, the former Wayland Township trustee who has been waging a personal court battle against Gun Lake Casino since 2008, has lost in federal court again. However, the attorney representing him said she will represent him again in another appeal.

Patchak alleges the Secretary of the Interior did not have the legal authority to enable the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians (also known as the Gun Lake Tribe) to build a casino.

In 2009, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the case, ruling Patchak lacked legal standing to sue.

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned that ruling on procedural grounds and sent it back to the District Court.

On June 17, Judge Richard Leon dismissed the case, noting that, since the Supreme Court remanded it back to his court, “two events have altered the legal landscape.”

The major event was an act of Congress signed into law Sept. 26, 2014, that affirmed the Secretary of the Interior had the authority to take the Gun Lake Tribe’s land into trust for a casino. The act went so far as to state that any litigation involving the land in question — “including an action pending in a Federal court as of the date of enactment of this Act” — would be promptly dismissed.”

“Having rejected each of plaintiff’s challenges, I find no constitutional obstacle to the enforcement of the Gun Lake Act and must decline, for want of jurisdiction, to reach the merits of plaintiff’s APA challenge” to the Secretary of the Interior’s decision, wrote Judge Leon.

Sharon Eubanks of the North Carolina-based firm Edwards Kirby represented Patchak in U.S. District Court, one of at least three firms that have represented him over the years.

Other legal firms were Warner Norcross & Judd and Rhoades McKee.

Eubanks told the Business Journal July 1 that Patchak “will be filing an appeal with the D.C. District Court of Appeals,” adding “I will be representing him.”

She also mentioned she had left the Edwards Kirby firm June 30 and will be joining another firm.

“The Tribe is grateful for the Court’s thoughtful, well-reasoned ruling,” said Chairman D.K. Sprague of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians.

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