Evicted CRIT resident’s Supreme Court petition denied

A legal dispute over the Colorado River Indian Tribes’ western boundary is finally over.

Roger French, a non-tribal person, lived on riverfront property north of Blythe, CA for 28 years, paying rent for only 10 of them. His challenge to CRIT’s authority to collect rent on the property has been denied for a final time, this time by the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday.

In 1983, French entered into a year-to-year permit with CRIT to occupy the residential lot on which he lived until his eviction in 2011. For the first 10 years, he paid CRIT rent. But after becoming convinced that the property he leased was outside the boundary of the reservation, he stopped paying rent to anyone. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), which had approved the CRIT permit in the first place and maintained that the property was within the reservation, terminated French’s permit in 1996.

Nevertheless, he remained on the property for an additional 15 years without paying rent and without any claim of ownership or authorization from any other entity. CRIT filed a complaint for eviction in the CRIT Tribal Court in October 2010 and the judge agreed, allowing CRIT to evict French in 2011.

A U.S. District Court judge upheld the eviction on appeal in 2015 and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in a short memorandum in June that both the permit and the assignment of the permit to French described the lot in question as within the CRIT reservation.

“French is therefore estopped from contesting CRIT’s title,” the court concluded.

At the heart of French’s position is his belief that the boundary of the CRIT reservation moves with the Colorado River, and when the river changes course, as he believes has happened, the boundary moves with it. The property French occupied, on the California side of the river, would therefore be outside the reservation boundary. CRIT asserts that the boundary is fixed to the west of the property location, and that the reservation therefore includes all the riverfront California-side property in question.

Although the courts did not make any precedent-setting decisions with regard to bigger questions over the boundary, every court that considered the dispute has rejected French’s argument, including both tribal and federal courts. But French was not deterred, appealing a final time to the highest court in the land.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the petition Tuesday without comment.


  1. Bruno Hill

    Wow free rent for YEARS….

  2. Fabian Castro

    Hope they make him pay.
    He just helped himself to land that wasn’t even his.
    I guess “entitlement” didn’t start with the millennials.

  3. Tammie Cardella

    Water moves land doesn’t. Seriously what is wrong with people. Shame on him.

  4. Roger Interlicchia

    Glad to see The Western Boundary fight is over and the Tribes are victorious.

  5. Melissa Hill

    Nope, it started with the modern day Indians

  6. When you’re wrong, you’re wrong!

  7. John Stephen Lane Sr.

    To make things clear. The Court only refused to hear the case, which is the prerogative of the Supreme Court. All it does is leave standing the previous Court rulings. It does settle any further questions about the western boundary, which is more important than anything. He could have resolved this issue by living up to his contract, to continue paying the rent and while doing so, let the courts decide the boundary issue. In either case, the land belongs to someone and he paid no rent to anyone.

  8. John Wright

    John- Absolutely right, the courts did not decide any bigger questions about the boundary. They simply told French he had to go.

  9. Michael Innabi

    What a con artist, trying to get something for nothing. CRIT or BLM he’s got to pay or get out. Hope they enforce back rent with interest.

  10. Tim Stevens-Welsh

    Ima give her a chance to or would like her to explain… cause I tend to jump the gun on certain issues, so I would like this woman to explain herself because maybe just maybe she can form a valid argument to back up such a statement , which she made. Otherwise , I’ll just let loose. Haha

  11. Lane Loll

    What is the yearly rent?

  12. The only thing upheld was the Tribe’s sovereign immunity.

  13. The Tribes did not invoke Sovereign Immunity in any aspect of the French matter, Mr. “Know”. You repeat a commonly cited Red Herring to divert attention from the plain truth of Mr. French’s argument. He wanted, and still wants something for nothing – a good gig if you can get it. Here, he had his fun, made a bunch of money renting out tribal land wihout paying anything to the Tribes since 1996 (another violation of his lease contract which is often overlooked by his self-interested supporters), and continues to trespass on the neighboring lot. That will end, and the Tribes will go on, in peace, without his unfortunate presence.

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