The Alaska Supreme Court yesterday ruled that two elders’ benefit programs of an ANCSA Regional Corporation were valid. Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon handled the case for the winning side. The case is Bodkin v. Cook Inlet Region, Inc. The Court held that CIRI’s elders’ programs were authorized under Section 7(r) of ANCSA and that no constitutional challenges to the programs could be sustained.
The ruling gives me a chance to toot my own horn over a job well done in the appellate court because I wrote the brief and argued the case. BLAAAPPP! (Sorry. My horn is strained a bit from driving around with all the other knuckleheads out there this winter.)
The Court’s decision was especially gratifying since I was already on record as saying the Court would rule this way. I spoke about the case at the November 2007 meeting of the Alaska Native Law Section of the Alaska Bar Association. I boldly predicted that the Alaska Supreme Court would affirm the lower court’s decision and uphold CIRI’s programs. I even made this prediction with the lawyer on the other side of the case, Fred Triem, sitting there, participating in the discussion. Yes, that’s right my friends. Just like Babe Ruth and Joe Namath, I have successfully called my own shot.
[Since I’ve wandered into the sports area, I thought I would add a side note for the Dear and Esteemed Wife that, upon my passing, I think it would be great idea to have Dave Niehaus, the Hall of Fame announcer for the Seattle Mariners, make the “call” at my memorial service. Something like the following would be nice:
“The designated hitter, Grim Reaper, steps up to the plate now. Grim carries an astonishing, perfect 1.000 batting average, as his long uppercut swing eventually catches up to every pitch thrown his way. Here’s Jerome’s pitch now . . . and its BELTED deep towards center! Its going, going, going . . . The center fielder, Moe “Darn” Medicine, gives chase but he’s not going to bring this one back . . . ITS OVER THE WALL, far, far out there in dead center field, straight above the ‘eternity’ sign! FLY AWAY! My, Oh, My!” (Wild cheering ensues.)
Just an idea, D.E.W. With any luck, you and Dave will have about three decades or so to work on it.]
Anyhow, the Bodkin case was really not difficult to predict. Fred Triem had made essentially the same arguments in a series of other cases filed in the federal and state courts over the years. He’d lost on every one, ever since Congress amended ANCSA to cut the Native Corporations some slack to honor their cultures. So it was no surprise the Alaska Supreme Court ruled the way it did in Bodkin, and my predicting the outcome was not much of an achievement.
I teased Fred at the Alaska Native Law Section meeting about running a “cottage industry” in these cases over elders’ benefits. The decision in Bodkin should just about shut down Fred’s little industry for good. Although you can never be 100% sure about these things, the door to Fred’s “cottage” should be pretty well barricaded now and the windows shuttered, more or less nailed tight. BLAAAPPP! (Wild cheering ensues.)