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Property Keyed to Merrill
United States v. Corrow
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*Case Brief Anatomy includes: Brief Prologue, Complete Case Brief, Brief Epilogue
- The Brief Prologue provides necessary case brief introductory information and includes:
- Topic: Identifies the topic of law and where this case fits within your course outline.
- Parties: Identifies the cast of characters involved in the case.
- Procedural Posture & History: Shares the case history with how lower courts have ruled on the matter.
- Case Key Terms, Acts, Doctrines, etc.: A case specific Legal Term Dictionary.
- Case Doctrines, Acts, Statutes, Amendments and Treatises: Identifies and Defines Legal Authority used in this case.
- The Case Brief is the complete case summarized and authored in the traditional Law School I.R.A.C. format. The Pro case brief includes:
- Brief Facts: A Synopsis of the Facts of the case.
- Rule of Law: Identifies the Legal Principle the Court used in deciding the case.
- Facts: What are the factual circumstances that gave rise to the civil or criminal case? What is the relationship of the Parties that are involved in the case. Review the Facts of this case here:
When Ray Winnie, a Navajo religious singer, participated in religious ceremonies, Ray would wear ceremonial masks. Upon Ray’s death, Richard Corrow (“Defendant”), owner of a cultural artifacts store, bought the masks from Ray’s widow, Fannie, for $10,000. Defendant told Fannie he would retain the masks sacredness by sending them to a Navajo chanter. Defendant tried to sell the masks to a buyer, who was an undercover agent, for $70,000. Subsequently, the United States government (“Plaintiff”) charged Defendant with illegally trafficking in Native American cultural items and selling protected feathers, under 18 U.S.C. § 1170 and the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act (“NAGPRA”). Pursuant to Title 18 U.S.C. § 1170(b), one may not knowingly sell or purchase for profit of a cultural item when it is obtained in violation of NAGPRA. Pursuant to Section 3001(3) of NAGPRA, a “cultural item” is a “cultural patrimony,” in part an object that was not previously owned by an individual Native American and could not be alienated, appropriated, or transferred by an individual. In trial, cultural experts established conflicting testimony regarding the alienability of the masks. Nonetheless, neither expert provided testimony indicating that it was acceptable for one to sell the masks to non-Navajos, who would later resell them for profit. Moreover, all experts provided evidence establishing that the masks that are sacred resided within the tribe’s four sacred mountains. The district court held Defendant was knowledgeable about Native traditions and Native culture because of Defendant’s representation to Fannie that he would transfer the masks to a chanter. Additionally, the expert testified that she had reminded Defendant of NAGPRA and the Navajo Nation’s procedures to return cultural items. Further, a jury found and convicted Defendant of trafficking and possession of protected feathers. Upon Defendant’s appeal, Defendant alleged that the definition of “cultural patrimony” was not constitutional, as it was unduly vague, as it did not provide the public notice about what specific conduct was prohibited nor did the statute list examples of cultural items.
- Issue(s): Lists the Questions of Law that are raised by the Facts of the case.
- Holding: Shares the Court's answer to the legal questions raised in the issue.
- Concurring / Dissenting Opinions: Includes valuable concurring or dissenting opinions and their key points.
- Reasoning and Analysis: Identifies the chain of argument(s) which led the judges to rule as they did.
- The Brief Prologue closes the case brief with important forward-looking discussion and includes:
- Policy: Identifies the Policy if any that has been established by the case.
- Court Direction: Shares where the Court went from here for this case.