Judge consolidates cases on taxing NY Indian cigs

Albany, New York (AP) October 2010
A federal judge has transferred the Mohawk tribe’s lawsuit against New York cigarette taxes to the court in Buffalo where the Senecas are challenging the $4.35-per-pack levy.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Kahn says it would be an unnecessary waste of judicial resources for two federal judges to hear the same claims.

Both tribes argue the state plan to tax reservation cigarette sales to non-Indians would force them to become tax agents for New York in violation of tribal sovereignty while denying tribe member rights under federal law to tax-free smokes.

Kahn issued a temporary restraining order last week blocking the state tax plan until Oct. 15.

The Oneida tribe has asked a federal judge in Utica not to transfer its lawsuit to Buffalo.