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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Custer Battlefield Museum Lawsuit Against Federal Agents Dismissed in District Court

While a September 30, 2011 decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals may have breathed life into Christopher Kortlander’s challenges to the government (see October 19, 2011 blog entry), the US District Court for the District of Montana closed a door on the Custer Battlefield Museum owner and operator by dismissing his lawsuit against multiple federal agents. Kortlander argued that his rights were violated as a result of law enforcement raids that resulted in no criminal charges against him.

In a September 12, 2011 opinion, Judge Richard Cebull dismissed Kortlander’s claims saying they either violated the statute of limitations, were “implausible,” or “frivolous.” The court entered the dismissal with prejudice, meaning the matter could not be brought forward again. The reason given was “futility alone.”

The federal investigation began into Kortlander and the museum after “the Bureau of Land Management Office of Law Enforcement and Security began receiving complaints that Kortlander was selling artifacts on Ebay that he claimed were recovered from the Little Big Horn battlefield,” according to the district court opinion. The investigation broadened to include potential illegal activity involving eagle parts. Bureau of Land Management and US Fish and Wildlife took the lead in the investigation, and the agencies gathered information that led to the issuance of two court authorized search warrants in 2005 and 2008. The prosecution decided in 2009 not to pursue indictments.

See the district court’s full opinion at http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/montana/mtdce/1:2010cv00155/38767/34/.


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