Hearing Officer Jean Webster’s Nephew Is Atty. Rebecca M. Webster’s Husband: Of Course That Creates A Conflict Of Interest, Duh!

Appeals Commissioner Jean Webster’s nephew is the husband of Tribal Attorney Becky Webster, and that relationship establishes a reasonably perceived conflict of interest.

The current ‘Judicial Code of Conduct’ posted on the ‘Judicial Code’ page of  Tribe’s website, and applies to Appeals Commissioners who wouldn’t qualify to serve as ‘Judges’ under the rules of the Tribal Judiciary, says this in Article VI. ‘Disqualification/Recusal,’ 6-1 (c) 2:

Judicial Officers shall disqualify themselves in a proceeding in which their impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including instances where: A Judicial Officer’s spouse, and any reasonably close family member in the Judicial Officer or spouse’s family is acting as a lawyer or advocate in the proceeding[.]

The recently adopted Chapter 152, ‘Oneida Tribal Judiciary Canons of Judicial Conduct’ which applies to Judges who will serve in the Oneida Judiciary (the laws of which, according to the Tribe’s website, don’t come into effect until November 1, 2014) states under “Note: Defining ‘Immediate Family'”:

[T]he term ‘immediate family’ shall be defined as husband, wife, mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister, grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, first or second cousin, step-parent, or someone who is recognized by the Oneida General Tribal Council and/or its delegate as a member of the Judge’s extended family.

Yet Jean Webster, Mary Adams, and Sandra Skenadore believe that GTC is too stupid to realize that Jean Webster being the aunt of Becky Webster’s husband makes them extended family members.

This is made clear by their December 13, 2013 Order of Dismissal of Docket #13-TC-129 which refuses recusal despite the fact their own Order admits that:

Judicial Officer Jean Webster stated for the record that Attorney Rebecca Webster is married to her nephew[.]

Judicial Officer Sandra Skenadore state that Laytalati ‘Lati’ Hill is her sister’s nephew[.]

According to Sec. 6-1(c), removal is necessary if both judges are reasonably close family members with either Attorney Becky Webster or Lati Hill. In both instances, Attorney Webster and Mr. Hill are married into the judicial officer’s extended family.

Exactly! Jean Webster’s nephew is Becky Webster’s husband! Lati Hill is Sandra Skenadore’s sister’s nephew! That means they are recognized by GTC as extended family members! Therefore Jean Webster and Sandra Skenadore should have recused themselves without even having to be asked! And Lead Officer Mary Adams should have insisted that they abide by the Petitioners’ reasonable request for resucal!

Yet the three Appeals Commissioners unethically and unprofessionally rejected the Petitioners’ reasonable call for recusal anyway.

Tribal Attorney Becky Webster – as a member of the Wisconsin State Bar – had an ethical and professional obligation to recuse herself as soon as her husband’s Aunt Jean Webster violated the Judicial Code of Conduct. However, it’s so obvious that the Oneida Business Committee has no problem with their legal counsel violating professional rules of ethics that one has to wonder if it’s not actually a requirement in the Oneida Law Office’s job descriptions.

The Petitioners have rightfully filed with the Tribal Appellate Court which hopefully won’t be as unethical, unprofessional, asinine and obstinate as the Honorable Execrable Jean Webster, Mary Adams and Sandra Skenadore.

Perhaps it will have to be made clear to all Oneida judicial officers and attorneys that GTC won’t allow Tribal Court to be misused as a family reunion where they stomp on General Tribal Council’s rights.
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As It Happens

December 2013
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