Legal Department

The Legal Department represents and advises the Tribal Council and all Tribal government entities (which includes all Tribal businesses, departments, boards, commissions, and agencies) in matters of law pertaining to the Tribe and its operations. The General Counsel is appointed by the Tribal Council, serves as the chief legal advisor to the Tribe, and manages the Tribe's legal affairs. Under the direction of the General Counsel, the Legal Department supports the Tribe by rendering legal advice and opinions, drafting and reviewing contracts, ordinances, resolutions, and other documents necessary to accomplish the Tribe's policies and goals. The Legal Department also represents the Tribe's legal interests before judicial and administrative agencies, manages government affairs, and prosecutes violations of the Tribe's laws.

Staff

John T. Plata, General Counsel | Read More

John Tabinaca Plata has served as General Counsel for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians ('ACBCI') since 2014. Prior to joining the ACBCI team, John was a partner the Washington, DC office of Hobbs Straus Dean & Walker, LLP. Before joining Hobbs, John also served as Director of Legal Affairs for the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma in Lawton, Oklahoma.

His primary practice areas include litigation, tribal gaming, tribal government development, tribal business structuring, taxation, and leasing of tribal lands. Throughout his career John has represented numerous Tribes various federal courts and agencies in matters regarding disaster relief, tribal-state compact negotiation, internet gaming, intra-tribal disputes, federal contracting, and sacred site protection. John has devoted his career to defending tribal sovereignty and empowering tribal government.

John is an enrolled tribal member of the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma and a direct descendant of Comanche Chief Tabinanica who was a signer of the 1865 Little Arkansas Treaty between the United States and the Comanche.

Mr. Plata holds a Bachelor of Business Administration with a Finance specialization from Texas Wesleyan University, and a Juris Doctor degree from the Texas Wesleyan University School of Law. He is licensed to practice law in Texas, Oklahoma, the District of Columbia, and California. John is also licensed to practice before various federal district courts, Courts of Appeal for the D.C., Second, Fifth, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits, as well as the Supreme Court of the United States.

A native Texan, John now resides in Rancho Mirage, California with his wife, and their dog Otis. They have two adult children who also live and work in southern California.


Leslie Barragan-Scott, Legal Secretary
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Rahsaan J. Tilford, Deputy General Counsel | Read More

Rahsaan J. Tilford is Deputy General Counsel for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and has served the Tribe since 2016. Mr. Tilford has more than 16 years of experience working with governmental organizations, and has focused his practice on federal Indian law, real estate, land use and zoning, contracts, taxation, economic development, construction, water and environmental law, and gaming.

More specifically, Mr. Tilford has significant experience advising the Tribe and former clients on the various laws that affect them, including the General Rights-of-Way Act of 1948 (25 U.S.C. §§ 323-328); Indian Long-Term Leasing Act (25 U.S.C. § 415); Tribal Environmental Policy Act; California Environmental Quality Act (Cal. Pub. Resources Code §§ 21000 et seq.); National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. §§ 4321 et seq.); Tribal Historic Preservation Ordinance; National Historic Preservation Act (54 U.S.C. §§ 300101 - 307108); Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (25 U.S.C. §§ 3001 - 3013); Archaeological Resources Protection Act (16 U.S.C. §§ 470aa - 470mm); Tribal Land Use Ordinance; California Planning and Zoning Law (Cal. Gov. Code §§ 65000 - 66301); Subdivision Map Act (Cal. Gov. Code §§ 66410 - 66499.38); and Tribal Tax Ordinance.

Mr. Tilford also assists the Tribe with drafting and reviewing contracts, ordinances, and resolutions, and representing the Tribe in contract negotiations and various project developments.

Prior to joining the Tribe, Mr. Tilford was Assistant City Attorney for the city of Oxnard, Deputy City Attorney for the cities of Colton, Fontana, Gardena, and Desert Hot Springs, and Interim City Attorney for the city of Rialto.

Mr. Tilford was born in Inglewood, California. He received an A.B. from Washington University in St. Louis in 1998 and a J.D. from Tulane University in 2003, where he was an Associate Executive Editor for the Tulane Journal of International and Comparative Law and was a judicial extern for the Honorable Sarah S. Vance, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Mr. Tilford is licensed to practice law in the states of California and Iowa and before the United States District Court, Central District of California.

Mr. Tilford currently lives in Palm Desert, California. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, photography, and traveling.


Rosemary Glaser, Tribal Court Administrator | Read More

Rosemary L. Glaser began serving as the Tribal Court Administrator for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians on March 9, 2020. Rosemary has over 30 years of Arizona Court experience; 13.5 years in the role of Court Administrator for the Ak-Chin Indian Community Court, 3.5 years in the role of Assistant Court Administrator for the Gila River Indian Community Court, 1.5 years in the role of Court Administrator for the Intertribal Court of Southern California, and 11 years in the role of Chief Clerk for the Casa Grande Municipal Court. Mrs. Glaser has also worked for the Arizona Supreme Court, Pinal County Superior Court, and Casa Grande Justice of the Peace.

Mrs. Glaser served on several local, and state committees and organizations charged with improving the operations of the justice systems at all levels. She was instrumental in the funding development, design and construction of the Ak-Chin Judicial Complex.

Mrs. Glaser holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from University of Phoenix, and a Masters in Elementary Education from Northern Arizona University. The Tribal Court Administrator provides a full range of administrative operations. Specific duties include Fiscal Administration, HR management, Case flow management, Information technology management, Space management, and Grant administration. The Tribal Court Administrator works for the entire court, under the direction of the chief judge.

Mrs. Glaser lives in Palm Desert, California with her husband, Michael, and they have five adult children.


Sapphire E. Diamant-Rink, Associate General Counsel | Read More

Sapphire Diamant-Rink joined the Legal Department in 2017 and serves as Associate General Counsel. Sapphire has ten years of experience working with Federal and Tribal governments. She provides legal services to the Tribe in a wide range of practice areas, including government, enrollment, land use, contracts, torts, gaming, licensing, tribal court matters, corporations, and taxation.

Prior to joining the Legal Department, Sapphire was an Assistant Regional Solicitor for the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Office of the Solicitor (SOL) in Sacramento, California. In that roll, she provided legal services to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Before transferring to Sacramento, Sapphire was a DOI Attorney-Advisor in Washington D.C., providing legal services in the areas of Indian water and Tribal government. Previously, Sapphire began her legal career as an Honors Attorney with DOI in Washington, D.C., providing legal services to several agencies, including the National Park Service, BIA, Fish and Wildlife Service, and BLM. Sapphire practiced before the Interior Board of Indian Appeals, the Interior Board of Land Appeals, and provided litigation support to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Sapphire was born and raised in Blackfeet country in north western Montana. She now resides in Palm Desert, California with her husband, and their bloodhound, Bobo.

Bar Admissions
Montana
California

Education
Juris Doctorate, University of Cincinnati College of Law, 2011 (Magna Cum Laude)
Bachelor of Arts, University of Montana, 2007 (University Honors Scholar, High Honors)


Contacts

John T. Plata
General Counsel
Phone: 760-699-6837
Email: jplata@aguacaliente-nsn.gov

Leslie Barragan-Scott
Legal Secretary
Phone: 760-699-6952
Email: lbarragan@aguacaliente-nsn.gov

Rahsaan J. Tilford
Deputy General Counsel
Phone: 760-699-6887
Email: rtilford@aguacaliente-nsn.gov

Rosemary Glaser
Tribal Court Administrator
Phone: 760-866-6478
Email: rglaser@aguacaliente-nsn.gov

Sapphire E. Diamant-Rink
Associate General Counsel
Phone: 760-699-6827
Email: sdiamantrink@aguacaliente-nsn.gov


Because the Legal Department's sole client is the Tribe and its related entities, Legal Department staff cannot provide legal advice to Tribal members, the broader Reservation community, or any other individuals or entities other than Tribal entities, even on matters involving the Tribe.