Oneida Business Committee Delays Tribal Judiciary Until At Least January 5, 2015

On Tuesday October 28, 2014, the Business Committee of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin voted to delay the implementation of the Tribal Judiciary from November 1, 2014 to January 5, 2015.

The following Resolutions were passed by OBC:

Previous delays in the transition from the Oneida Appeals Commission to the Judiciary were caused by:

  1. the Business Committee underestimating the caseload of the Tribe’s Family Court and needing to add an additional Judge;
  2. the Business Committee presenting legislation to General Tribal Council which contained incorrect information regarding the qualifications for all judges;
  3. the Business Committee deciding to exclude the Southeast Oneida Tribal Services polling site in Milwaukee from the delayed Judiciary election which resulted in a stay of the election.

Apparently those actions by the Business Committee have resulted in the delay of the sixty (60) hours of training that the Judiciary’s Judges are supposed to receive. Despite their lack of training, the Judges were sworn in at the October 22, 2014 BC Regular Meeting. The two Chief Judges were sworn in on October 13, 2014.

The Business Committee has argued that it had to allow the Election Board to cut corners and make rush decisions regarding the delayed Judiciary election because the directive by General Tribal Council to implement the Judiciary on November 1, 2014 was a requirement and changing the date of implementation was not an option. Their actions now demonstrate that their justifications for rushing the election were simply not true and that they believe they have the option to delay the implementation of the Judicary even further if they so decide.

Speaking of untrue statements, the letter dated October 17, 2014 and signed by the Judiciary’s Chief Trial Judge and Chief Appellate Judge strangely and improperly attempts to falsely exonerate the Oneida Business Commitee from being at fault for the delay of the implementation of the Judiciary which raises alarming questions about the Chief Judges’ biased opinions in favor of OBC, as well as their overall competence and ethics or lack thereof.

The Chief Judges’ letter also says, “new cases may be filed with the Judiciary beginning November 1, 2014 under the new system, with the understanding that scheduling of these cases will not be heard until January 5, 2015.”

An October 16, 2014 memo by OBC Vice-Chair Melinda J. Danforth requests that a BC Meeting be scheduled to accomodate the request by the Chief Judges to delay the implementation of the Judiciary.

There was no mention of OBC’s consideration of the request to delay implementation of the Judiciary at the October 26, 2014 General Tribal Council meeting, even though OBC has often deceptively maintained that the November 1, 2014 implementation date was a mandate and an unavoidable deadline because it was required of OBC by GTC Resolution 01-07-13-B.

One would think the Business Committee would have at least said something about the issue at the October 26, 2014 GTC Meeting or added it to the agenda of the November 15, 2014 GTC Meeting. Perhaps OBC is scared about how GTC might react to the latest results of OBC’s blunders and bad decisions.

The Vice-Chair’s memo also requests that the January 5, 2015 Semi-annual GTC Meeting be used to introduce the new judges to GTC.

On October 9, 2014 a letter was mailed from Clerk of Appellate Court Vicki L. Kochan regarding the ability to transfer to the Judiciary active cases currently before the Appeals Commission. Kochan’s letter states, “Pursuant to GTC Resolution 01-07-13-B, the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin has adopted a new Judiciary which will go into effect and start receiving filings on November 1, 2014.”

The clear implication of Kochan’s letter is that cases transferred to the Judiciary would be scheduled shortly after November 1, 2014.

The Appeals Commission will now need to inform all parties that information has been invalidated by the actions of the Business Committee, and those who may have applied to have their cases transferred to the Judiciary will have to be offered the ability to rescind their requests as the information on which they reasonably relied is no longer accurate and their cases will be unnecessarily delayed for two months or longer if they transfer their cases to the Judiciary.

But, again, there’s no guarantee that the Business Committee won’t vote to further delay implementation of the Judiciary.

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As It Happens

October 2014
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