In State v. Jim, No. 84716-9, the Supreme Court held that the Maryhill Treaty Fishing Access Site, created for Columbia River tribes to fish under provision of treaty, was not within the criminal jurisdiction of Washington State.
Lester Ray Jim, a member of the Yakama Nation, was fishing on the Columbia River at the Maryhill site. Washington Fish and Wildlife officers cited Jim for taking ashore five undersized sturgeon. Jim had argued that it was common practice in the Yakama Nation to release the sturgeon when returning to shore. Under state statute he was in violation for not “immediately” releasing the fish whereas under tribal regulation he is allowed a “reasonable opportunity” to release the sturgeon.
The issue in this case turned on whether Maryhill was an established reservation for issues of jurisdiction; the court used State v. Sohappy for guidance. In Sohappy the court held that a fishing site similar to Maryhill, Cooks Landing, was a reservation so far as defining criminal jurisdiction. Notably persuasive was the fact that Maryhill is used exclusively for members of the tribes and not other common citizens. The Supreme Court, with Justice Susan Owens writing, held that the State lacked jurisdiction to cite Jim.
Justice Charles Wiggins and two others dissented in a lengthy opinion explaining their view that Maryhill was not, in fact, a reservation and therefore within the purview of state criminal jurisdiction.
This blog assumes that one cannot brag about the "big one that got away" when cited by Fish and Wildlife for catching undersized fish.