ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday in a case that "will have broader implications" for Beltrami County and Red Lake Nation, according to a statement from the county attorney's office.
The case is focused on a DWI arrest that took place in Red Lake Nation in 2017. The defendant, 59-year-old Randy Thompson, had 13 prior DWIs when he was pulled over. He was transferred out of Red Lake Nation and was subsequently sentenced in a Beltrami County court to five years in prison.
Thompson is arguing that since the Red Lake police officer who arrested him was not licensed by the state of Minnesota, "the evidence should be suppressed and his conviction should be overturned," according to the release.
Beltrami County Attorney David Hanson argued that as a sovereign nation, Red Lake authorities have the right to evict people from the tribal nation's borders who disturb the peace.
"If you rule in favor of the appellant, what does that mean? That means there's a place in Minnesota where non Indians can go drive drunk at will without any repercussion of the law," Hanson told the court's seven judges.
Thompson was not a member of Red Lake Nation. When he was arrested, the tribal officer transported him to the reservation border and handed him over to the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office, the release said.
Once Thompson was convicted, he took the case to the Court of Appeals. According to the Supreme Court's summary of the case, the court of appeals found that the tribal officer had "inherent authority to detain Thompson and transfer custody to local law enforcement authorities for criminal prosecution." The Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision on the matter in the coming weeks.
Hanson's oral argument before the Supreme Court can be seen here.