Oneida Tribal Judiciary’s Chief Judges Lied About Who’s To Blame For Multiple Delays Of Judiciary Election

IN THE MATTER OF: Judiciary and other Election Matters

Michael T. Debraska, Leah Sue Dodge, Franklin Cornelius,
John G. Orie, and Bradley Graham, Appellants


Oneida Business Committee, Oneida Election Board,
and Oneida Law Office, Respondents

Docket No. 14-AC-012


We, as the Appellants in the above matter, hereby file this written objection to the Respondents’ request to have this case (14-AC-012) transferred from the Oneida Tribal Judicial System to the Oneida Tribal Judiciary. As this case directly pertains to issues surrounding the Special Election of the Judiciary, and its possible illegitimacy due to the concerns raised by the Appellants, it is a direct and unacceptable conflict of interest for the Judiciary itself to adjudicate this matter which goes to the heart of Appellants’ assertion that the Respondents don’t play fair.

Given that the implementation date for the Judiciary is now January 5, 2015, as determined by the Oneida Business Committee at its October 28, 2014, meeting [Exhibit A], the decision by this Court to transfer this matter to the Judiciary would unnecessarily result in suspension of the consideration of this case until sometime after January 5, 2015, and more than likely some time well thereafter. The Respondents’ actions have demonstrated their belief that nothing precludes them from delaying the implementation of the Judiciary even further.

Undeniably, the transfer of this case to the Judiciary would thereby improperly result in an avoidable and unnecessary delay of justice and appears to be little more than a stall tactic on the part of the Respondents to further delay and avoid adjudication by the Appeals Commission.

The Respondents knew or should have known that their request for transfer would result in an unnecessary and improper delay given that their Request to Have Case Transferred to the Oneida Judiciary was filed on October 21, 2014, by which time OBC Vice-Chair Melinda J. Danforth had already issued a Memorandum on October 16, 2014 [Exhibit B], requesting an OBC Meeting be held to consider a letter signed by the Chief Judges of the Judiciary (strangely) dated October 17, 2014 [Exhibit C], which asks Respondents to delay the Judiciary’s implementation until January 5, 2015.

Bizarrely, the letter signed by the Chief Trial and Appellate Judges of the Judiciary includes the patently false claim that, “[t]he delays [resulting in their request to delay implementation of the Judiciary] are not the fault of the Business Committee[.]”

In reality, Respondents are directly responsible for the juggling of Judiciary Judgeships and the multiple avoidable delays of the election of the Judiciary election, given that:

(1) Respondents failed to properly assess the anticipated caseload of the Family Court which required them to ask General Tribal Council at the June 16, 2014 GTC Special Meeting to allow for a Judge position to be eliminated from the Judiciary Trial Court and instead allow for a second Judge position be created in the Family Court so that Respondents could appoint another Judge to the Family Court [Exhibit D; Page 6; Lines 308 on.];

(2) Respondents failed to properly monitor and object to the decisions made and publications issued by the Election Board regarding the qualifications for Judiciary all candidates, as admitted by current OBC Vice-Chair Melinda J. Danforth as seen in the quote from the Draft Transcript of the June 16, 2014, GTC Meeting [Exhibit D; Page 9.] at which time Respondents requested that GTC allow the Respondents to delay the election of the Judiciary from the 2014 General Election to a Special Election due to their failures of oversight:

“Therefore, the BC, the LRO, my staff, parts of the judiciary team that were responsible for legislation went back and looked through all the documents. …At that time, the GTC intent was that there were 2 sets of qualifications that were distinctly different for chief judges and non-chief judges. The March 26, 2014 action by the BC was nullified this morning by the BC. However, because it would potentially, negatively impact affect the applicants and the candidates that had applied and those who may have applied, it is the recommendation that we motion to withdraw from this election all of the judges positions and that they be rescheduled to a new special election. That would be fair to all the applicants, it would be fair to the GTC and it unfortunately is a mistake and an oversight, we’ll take responsibility for that.”

[Lines 464 – 473, Page 9 of Draft Transcript of June 16, 2014 GTC Meeting];

(3) Respondents failed to properly overrule the Election Board’s disenfranchising recommendation to exclude the Milwaukee polling site from the delayed Special Election of the Judiciary, a decision that was in clear contradiction of OBC Resolution 03-13-02-O [Exhibit E] which says, “the Oneida Constitution reflects an obvious intent to promote the widest possible participation of Oneida people in their governance” and “the use of the Milwaukee polling site is likely to increase participation in Tribal elections” and which resulted in the Stay of the already delayed Special Election, when the Respondents could and should have instead insisted – as they subsequently did – that the Southeastern Oneida Tribal Services facility be used as a polling site for the election of Judges to the Judiciary.

The glaring bias in favor of the Respondents exhibited by the poor attempt at revisionism evidenced by the unfair and untrue claims in the letter dated October 17, 2014, as issued by the Judiciary’s Chief Judges [Exhibit C], which improperly and wrong-headedly attempts to preemptively exonerate the Respondents from any blame for the delays of the Judiciary election which they caused, only proves that the highest officials of the Judiciary cannot be trusted to treat the Appellants impartially; highlights the Judges’ lack of competency or ethics regarding their ability to render just decisions on electoral matters, especially their own; and serves as another reason why Respondents’ request to transfer this case to the Judiciary should be denied.

The one-sided, inaccurate statement by the Chief Judges of the Judiciary stands in contrast to the Oneida Tribal Judiciary Canons of Judicial Conduct, Canon 1.10: “A Judge may not, while a proceeding is pending in any court, make any public comment that may reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impair the fairness of a matter before the Judge or before the Judiciary.”

In fact, the actions by the Respondents to delay the Judiciary’s implementation also thereby invalidates the Notice issued by Clerk of Appellate Court Vicki L. Kochan on October 9, 2014 [Exhibit F] which was presumably mailed to all parties of all ongoing cases currently before the Appeals Commission regarding the transfer of cases to the Judiciary which 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.”

Obviously, the clear implication in Kochan’s letter is that the Judiciary would begin scheduling hearings on cases now before the Appeals Commission starting November 1, 2014, or shortly thereafter. Thus, the very basis for the Respondents’ request to the Appellate Court for this case to be transferred to the Judiciary is rendered moot by the Respondents’ own decisions and actions to delay the implementation of the Judiciary until January 5, 2015, at the earliest.

Indeed, the actions taken by the Respondents during the Tuesday, October 28, 2014, OBC meeting now require the Appeals Commission to issue notice to all parties of all cases that the implications made by Kochan’s October 9, 2014 Notice are no longer valid and therefore offer those who chose to transfer their cases to the Judiciary the option to rescind that decision due to the Respondents’ actions taken to delay the Judiciary’s implementation until January 5, 2015.

Additionally, any actions taken by the Respondents to delay implementation of the Judiciary disproves their claims in their August 29, 2014 Motion to Lift Stay on Special Election that the election of the Judiciary had to take place as soon as possible because the November 1, 2014 implementation date was “required” of them by General Tribal Council and therefore had to be treated by the Court as some kind of immutable “deadline” [Exhibit G].

Moreover, the very existence of the Respondents’ ridiculous request for transfer which is rooted in the notion that it would somehow be appropriate to involve the Judiciary in deliberation regarding the validity of the election process of its own members and the validity of its own existence, is so inappropriate and absurd on its face that it clearly calls into question not only the Respondents’ competence and ethics, but also highlights their obvious desperation to avoid by any means conceivable the adjudication by the Appeals Commission of the serious matters involved. In sum, the Respondents don’t know how or simply don’t want to have to treat people fairly.

Therefore, Appellants hereby strongly object to the Respondents’ request to transfer this case to the Oneida Judiciary which would create an unnecessary and avoidable delay due to the actions of the Respondents’ resulting in the Judiciary not scheduling cases until January 5, 2015 at the earliest, and would create unnecessary conflicts of interest by involving members of the Judiciary in questions regarding the specific election that resulted in them being Judges.

Instead, Appellants ask that this case stay where it is within the process of the Oneida Appeals Commission for timely adjudication which will hopefully be free of the demonstrated bias of the Chief Judges of the Judiciary, as well as free of the inherent conflict of interest and unnecessary delay of a decision that would undeniably and unjustly result if the Judiciary were to be appointed with adjudication of this case.



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