The celebrated San Francisco attorney Melvin Belli has taken up the cause of a Washington State (northwest U.
The celebrated San Francisco attorney Melvin Belli has taken up the cause of a Washington State (northwest U.S.) Indian tribe that is fighting for its fishing rights under an 1855 treaty.Belli is best known for his defense of Jack Ruby, the convicted killed of President Kennedy's assassin, Lee Oswald.
The Puyallup Indians are conducting a legal fight with the state of Washington which is trying to abridge their rights to fish.The Indians claim fishing rights under an 1855 treaty with the United States.
Belli met in Tacoma, Washington last week with Indian leaders.After the closed session, the entourage piled into waiting cars and drove several miles to the Indian's traditional Fishing grounds on the banks of the Puyallup river in the industrial heart of Tacoma.Belli and Puyallup Indian chief Robert Satiacum stood on the river bank watching a lonely Indian in a hand-made canoe pull his gill-net full of steel-hear trout.Later Belli appeared in court to be admitted to the state bar and argue for dismissal of state's suit, which seeks to prevent the Puyallup Indians from gill-net fishing in the river.The trial got under way this week (1 February).
After arriving in Tacoma, Belli talked to reporters about the case.He said (optical sound portion) that the Puyallup tribe is a sovereign nation and cannot be sued in state court -- or even in federal court without the permission of the national congress.As for his payment, Belli said the Indians weren't in any position to give him money.He said he has received "two salmon, a cup of coffee and some doughnuts" and "that's enough for me".