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The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon [Ordinances]

Last amended: 2003


ORIGINALLY ADOPTED: 4/12/89

DATE AMENDED: 9/8/93; 10/5/94; 12/16/98; 6/27/01; 3/5/03

SUBJECT: Tribal Court

RESOLUTION NO: 340-89; 062-93; 066-94; 089-98; 105-01; 049-03


Tribal Court Ordinance

Tribal Code § 310


(a) AUTHORITY AND PURPOSE: The purpose of this Ordinance is to provide for the administration of law and justice by the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde through the establishment of a Tribal Court system as required by Article IV of the Grand Ronde Constitution.

Through establishment of the Court, the Tribe pledges to preserve cultural and Tribal identity, to protect and wisely develop common Tribal resources, to maintain peace and order, and to safeguard individual rights.


(b) DEFINITIONS:

(1) "Counsel" means any person admitted to a bar of any state.

(2) "Immediate Family" means a person's natural father, natural mother, adoptive mother, adoptive father, daughter, son, spouse, person in a spousal relationship, brother, sister, stepbrother, and stepsister.

(3) "Peacemaker" means a mediator who is a Tribal member appointed to the Peacemaker Panel by the Chief Judge of the Tribal Court.

(4) "Spokesperson" means any person not admitted to a bar of any state who is chosen by a party to a case, who is approved by the Court, and who speaks for the party in the Tribal Court.

(5) "Tribal Council" or "Council" means the Tribal Council of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon.

(6) "Tribal Court" or "Court" means the court of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon unless the context indicates that another tribe's court is intended.

(7) "Tribe" means the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon, including all agencies, departments, officers, divisions, commissions, authorities, corporations, instrumentalities and other entities of the Tribe.


(c) ESTABLISHMENT OF COURT:

(1) By this Ordinance, at the direction of the Grand Ronde Constitution, there is established for the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde a court to be known as the Grand Ronde Tribal Court. The Court shall be empowered to exercise the judicial authority of the Tribe as delegated herein and shall consist of a Trial Court, made up of one Chief Judge and such Associate Judges as the Tribal Council may appoint. The Trial Court is empowered to create such specialized divisions as necessary to hear matters as defined in the tribe's Ordinances.

(2) In addition to the Trial Court there may be established a Peacemaking Panel and a Court of Appeals.

(A) The Peacemaking Panel may be used, at the request of parties, to mediate disputes between them before filing claims in the Tribal Court, or as assigned by the Chief Judge after commencement of a suit. The Parties utilizing the Peacemaking Panel are not precluded from filing a claim with the Court or proceeding with a claim already filed should the efforts of the Peacemaking Panel to resolve the claim prove unsuccessful.

(B) The Court of Appeals shall consist of a judge or judges, but shall not include the judge who handled the matter at the trial level.


(d) JURISDICTION AND POWERS:

(1) Civil Jurisdiction.

(A) Subject Matter Jurisdiction: The Court shall have jurisdiction over all civil actions where there are sufficient contacts with the Grand Ronde Reservation upon which to base jurisdiction, consistent with the Constitution and laws of the Tribe and the United States. It is the intent of this paragraph to authorize the broadest exercise of jurisdiction consistent with these limitations. Without limiting the foregoing, the Court shall have jurisdiction over the following matters: proceedings involving the tribe's custody of children; contracts to which the Tribe is a party; appeals from denials of hunting, fishing or gathering privileges by the Fish and Wildlife Committee, appeals from appealable decisions of the Education Committee; and issues delegated to the Court by Ordinance. In the exercise of its sound discretion, the Court may abstain or stay the exercise of its jurisdiction or dismiss an action within its jurisdiction if it finds that any of the following exist:

1. another court or tribunal has the jurisdiction to hear the case and would be more a convenient forum for the parties or the Court;

2. one or more of the parties is not a person over which the Court can exercise its authority and in that party's absence the Court cannot grant adequate relief; or

3. the case is of such a nature that the Court should not hear it.

(B) Personal Jurisdiction: The scope of the Court's civil jurisdiction over any person or entity shall extend to any person or entity who has sufficient contacts with the Grand Ronde Reservation upon which to base jurisdiction consistent with the Constitution and laws of the Tribe and the United States. It is the intent of this paragraph to authorize the broadest exercise of jurisdiction consistent with these limitations. Without limiting the foregoing, the Court's jurisdiction shall extend to individuals whose conduct threatens or has some effect on the political integrity, the economic security, or the health and welfare of the Tribe.

(C) Concurrent Jurisdiction: The Council recognizes that Public Law 83-280 granted concurrent jurisdiction to the State of Oregon over some criminal and civil matters. The Court shall exercise its jurisdiction in all areas to the extent delegated by Tribal Ordinance.

(D) Certified Questions of Tribal Law: The Court shall have jurisdiction to answer questions of Tribal law, including Grand Ronde constitutional law, certified from any tribal, federal or state court or administrative tribunal.

(2) Powers: The Court is granted all the powers, including, but not limited to, the issuance of writs, necessary to exercise its jurisdiction in accordance with the procedures set forth in this Ordinance. Additionally, the Court may exercise its jurisdiction in accordance with any suitable procedures where specific procedures are not set forth in this Ordinance, so long as such procedures are in accordance with the Tribal Constitution and laws.

(3) Comity: The Court shall give effect to the orders and judgments of other tribal and state courts based on principles of comity unless:

(A) the court in question does not recognize the orders and judgments of the Tribal Court;

(B) the court in question did not have jurisdiction over the case or a party or parties to it;

(C) the order or judgment was based on fraud or the proceedings leading to a judgment were fundamentally unfair;

(D) to do so would violate the public policy of the Tribe or would be likely to harm the culture, traditions, or sovereignty of the Tribe; or

(E) the order or judgment is on appeal or being contested in another jurisdiction.


(e) JUDGES:

(1) Qualifications

(A) The Chief Judge and Court of Appeals Judges shall have a J. D. or LL. B. degree from an ABA accredited law school; be a member of the Oregon State Bar; have a minimum of ten (10) years experience practicing law (which may include service on a tribal, federal or state court bench); and have a demonstrable knowledge of Indian, federal and Oregon law.

(B) An Associate Judge shall have a J. D. or LL. B. degree from an ABA accredited law school; be a member of the Oregon State Bar; have a minimum of five (5) years experience practicing law (which may include service on a tribal, federal or state court bench); and have a demonstrable knowledge of Indian, federal and Oregon law.

(C) No person shall serve as Judge of the Court who has been convicted of a felony or a crime involving dishonesty. No person shall serve as a Judge of the Court who holds any elective office of the Tribe.

(2) Appointment and Term of Service: The Council will select the Chief Judge and any Associate Judges and may apply Indian preference. The term of the Chief Judge and Associate Judges shall be two (2) years and will include an initial six (6) month period during which the Tribe or the Judge may terminate the appointment for any or no reason. (This at-will period shall not apply to terms other than the initial term of a Chief Judge or any Associate Judge.) The compensation of the Chief Judge and any Court of Appeals and Associate Judges, and other terms of their appointment consistent with this Ordinance, shall be established by contract with the Tribe.

(3) Duties

(A) The Chief Judge shall:

1. promulgate, after consultation with the Tribal Council, procedural rules and standards for carrying out the Court's, and the Court of Appeals', activities;

2. hear all matters delegated to the Court by Ordinance;

3. develop and maintain a list of acting judges, whose qualifications meet the minimum qualifications of Associate Judges, to be called upon to hear cases in the event of disqualification of a judge or as otherwise necessary. The list shall contain as many qualified acting judges as the Chief Judge deems appropriate;

4. develop and maintain, with the assistance of the Court Clerk, a system for record keeping and a docket system;

5. maintain current copies of tribal, federal, and state laws applicable to proceedings coming before the Court;

6. prepare the Court's annual plan and budget;

7. issue receipts for any monies collected or paid by the Tribal Court;

8. deposit all receipts into the Tribal accounting system;

9. supervise and coordinate training of Court personnel and Peacemakers.

(B) Associate Judges will be responsible for hearing all cases assigned to them by the Chief Judge, and other duties assigned by the Chief Judge.

(C) Court of Appeals Judges will be responsible for hearing all matters delegated to the Court of Appeals by this Ordinance.

(4) Removal: During the term of his or her appointment, any Judge may be suspended, dismissed, or removed for cause by the Council.

(A) The Tribal Council Chairperson or his/ her designee shall make available copies of a written statement stating the facts and reasons for the proposed action to the Judge in question. This notice shall be given at least seven (7) calendar days before the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Council.

(B) That meeting shall include a public hearing where the accused Judge shall be given adequate opportunity to answer all charges, including the right to bring witnesses. Causes deemed sufficient for such action shall include but not be limited to:

1. excessive use of intoxicants;

2. conviction of any offense other than minor traffic violations and infractions;

3. use of official position for personal gain; and

4. failure to perform judicial duties adequately and according to the terms of this Ordinance and/ or the contract for judicial services between the Tribe and the Judge.

The decision of the Council shall be final.

(5) Disqualification:

(A) Conflict of Interest: No Judge shall be qualified to act as such in any case where she/ he has any direct interest, or where any party involved in the case is a relative by marriage or blood in the first or second degree. A Judge may be disqualified upon his/ her own motion or by application by any party in the proceeding upon filing a verified written motion, supported by an affidavit.

(B) Bias or Prejudice: Upon the filing of an affidavit by a party setting forth facts establishing, by reason of bias or prejudice of the Judge to whom the case is assigned, that the party cannot have a fair trial, the Judge shall disqualify himself/ herself. Such affidavit shall be filed not later than fifteen (15) days prior to trial.

(6) Acting Judges: In the event that there is no qualified Judge or there are an insufficient number of Judges available to hear a particular case, the Chief Judge shall appoint an Acting Judge or Judges selected by random drawing from the list of Acting Judges, with the full powers of a regularly appointed Tribal Judge to hear and dispose of the case. Such appointment shall be only for the period of time necessary to dispose of the case in question, and shall not be used to avoid giving full tenure to a regularly appointed Tribal Judge.


(f) COURT CLERK:

(1) Selection: The Court Clerk shall be hired as provided by the tribe's personnel policies.

(2) Qualifications: The Court Clerk shall have a high school diploma or equivalent; a minimum of two (2) years experience as a paid legal secretary or law clerk; be eligible to become a registered notary; and not have a felony conviction or conviction of any other crime involving dishonesty.

(3) Duties: The Court Clerk shall:

(A) attend all sessions of the Tribal Court, unless excused by the Tribal Judge;

(B) keep or arrange for the keeping of records of all Tribal Court proceedings;

(C) administer oaths to witnesses as directed by the Tribal Judge;

(D) issue receipts for monies collected or paid by the Tribal Court;

(E) deposit all receipts into the Tribal accounting system;

(F) account for all monies handled through the Court; and

(G) perform such duties as assigned by the Chief Judge.

(4) Seal: The Court Clerk shall have an official seal which shall be impressed upon the original of each complaint or other paper filed with the Court, along with a notation of the day and time of filing.


(g) TRIBAL LAW:

(1) When choosing what law applies, the Court shall apply the law of the Tribe except to the extent that federal law governs. In construing and applying Tribal law, the Court shall apply first the Tribal Constitution, then Tribal Ordinances, and then Tribal case law. To the extent no law of the Tribe is applicable, the Court shall consider and, if appropriate, apply customs and traditions of the Tribe as they are relevant to the controversy.

(2) The Oregon Commercial Code, except self-help remedies thereunder (such intended self-help remedies being those non-judicial rights and remedies against or with respect to Collateral not then within the control or possession of the secured party, the exercise of which by the secured party could cause to occur upon the Reservation a violation of the duty not to exercise nonjudicial remedies in a manner which could breach the peace), as may from time to time be amended, and Oregon statutory and common law of contracts are adopted as substantive law of the tribe, except to the extent inconsistent with other Tribal law and the sovereign immunity of the Tribe. All reference to the "Secretary of State" in the Oregon Commercial Code are deleted and replaced with "Tribal Court Clerk."

(3) The Court may consider the laws of other Indian Tribes so far as they illuminate Tribal customs and traditions.


(h) APPEALS:

(1) Court of Appeals: A Court of Appeals is established by this Ordinance.

(2) Jurisdiction: The Court of Appeals shall have jurisdiction to review final orders, and judgments of the Trial Court. On appeal, the record and decision of the Trial Court shall be reviewed for error. The Court of Appeals may affirm, modify, or reverse any judgment, decree, or order of the Trial Court; remand the case and order a new trial; direct the entry of an appropriate judgment, decree or order; and require such other action of further proceedings as may be just in the circumstance. If heard by more than one judge, a decision must be by majority of the judges hearing the appeal.

(3) Judge Assignment.

(A) Cases in which all parties agree that the appeal should be heard by a three-judge panel shall be heard by a three-judge panel. A majority of the judges assigned to that panel constitutes a quorum for the purpose of hearing and determining any matter referred to the panel. Accordingly, two judges of a three-judge panel may hear and decide any case properly referred to it.

(B) All other matters shall be heard by one judge selected on a rotating basis.

(4) Right to Appeal: Any party aggrieved by any final order, commitment, or judgment of the Trial Court may appeal.

(5) Notice of Appeal: A written notice of appeal shall be made in accordance with the Tribal Court's Rules of Appellate Procedures.

(6) Stay of Enforcement: Once the Council establishes a Court of Appeals, then in a case where a party has perfected his/ her right to appeal in accordance with the rules set forth in this Ordinance and by the Court, the final order, commitment, or judgment of the Court may be stayed by the Trial Court Judge pending the appeal, provided the appellant posts a bond, deposits cash, or gives other assurance as will in the judgment of the Trial Court Judge give adequate assurance of performance of judgment, or payment of fine or judgment in the event the case appealed is affirmed. The Trial Court Judge may waive this bond if it would result in an undue hardship to appellant.

(7) Stay of Enforcement by the Court of Appeals: An application for a stay of the judgment or order of the Trial Court pending appeal or for an order suspending, modifying, restoring or granting an injunction during the pendency of an appeal must ordinarily be made in the first instance in the Trial Court. A motion for such relief may be made to the Court of Appeals or to a judge thereof, but the motion shall show that application to the Trial Court for the relief sought is not practicable, or that the Trial Court has denied an application, or has failed to afford the relief which the applicant requested, with the reasons given by the Trial Court for its action. The motion shall also show the reasons for the relief requested and the facts relied upon, and if the facts are subject to dispute the motion shall be supported by affidavits or other sworn statements or copies thereof. With the motion shall be filed such parts of the record as are relevant. Reasonable notice of the motion shall be given to all parties. The motion shall be filed with the Court Clerk. The relief available in the Court of Appeals under this clause may be conditioned upon the filing of a bond or other appropriate security in the Trial Court.

(8) Finality: The decision of the Court of Appeals shall be final.


(i) APPEARANCES:

(1) Counsel or Spokesperson:

(A) Counsel: Any party has a right to assistance of counsel at the party's expense.

(B) Spokesperson:

1. Any party has a right to assistance of a spokesperson at the party's expense.

2. The Court shall not appoint counsel or a spokesperson for any party at the tribe's expense.

(2) Self-representation: Any individual party may appear and represent himself or herself in any proceeding before the Court. Judges of the Court shall ensure that all parties have equal opportunity to present their case and cross-examine witnesses. Parties representing themselves shall not be held to the same strict standards of procedural conduct as are required of legal counsel.

(3) Witnesses:

(A) Summons to Appear: On motion by any party to the case, or on the Court's own motion, the Court shall issue a summons to compel the attendance of witnesses, or the production of books, records, documents, paper and things necessary to the determination of the cause. Failure to comply with a summons shall constitute contempt of Court.

(B) Fees for Witnesses: Each party shall be responsible for his/ her own witnesses. The Tribe shall pay witnesses summoned on its behalf at a rate established by the Court.


(j) RECORDS:

(1) Docket: The Court Clerk shall keep a docket which shall contain the names of each plaintiff and defendant in any civil proceeding, the type of proceeding, the date of issuance and the return date of any legal order or process issued in the proceeding, the appearance or default of parties summoned, the date and the amount of any judgment, any appeal, and all other proceedings and documents as directed by the Chief Judge. The Court docket shall be available for public inspection, except to the extent that the proceedings and judgment in a matter are sealed by the Court or the case is one under the Indian Child Welfare Ordinance.

(2) Copies of Proceedings: Any person may obtain a certified copy of proceedings in the Court at their own expense; the seal of the Court Clerk shall be applied to all copies so certified. This paragraph shall not apply to matters under the Indian Child Welfare Ordinance or records sealed or expunged by the Court.

(3) Copies of Laws: The Court shall obtain copies of this Ordinance, copies of other Tribal Ordinances, federal, and state laws and regulations as are deemed by the Court to be necessary, helpful, and proper to secure the rights and privileges of persons subject to the jurisdiction of the Court and its judicial powers and responsibilities. Copies of same shall be available for review by Tribal members.


(k) PEACEMAKER CONFERENCES:

(1) Purpose: The purpose of a Peacemaker conference is to provide a nonadversarial way to resolve disputes. Peacemaker conferences are intended to reflect the tribe's tradition of using respected members of the community to heal conflicts among its members.

(2) Appointment: The Chief Judge, with the consent of the Council, may appoint three or more Peacemakers to carry out the duties and responsibilities set forth in this Ordinance. Peacemakers may not be appointed to hear cases arising under the ICW Ordinance.

(3) Qualifications: A Peacemaker shall be at least twenty-five (25) years of age, a member of the Tribe, and known and respected in the community in which he or she lives. No Peacemaker shall serve if he or she has ever been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor involving violence within the last three (3) years.

(4) Duties: Peacemakers shall work to resolve disputes between family members, neighbors and others. To do this, Peacemakers shall, as needed, do the following:

(A) conduct informal conferences;

(B) ensure in each conference that all relevant facts are presented and that all parties have an opportunity to speak;

(C) encourage the parties to reach an agreement that is acceptable to all of them; and

(D) attend training at Court expense as requested by the Chief Judge.

(5) Procedure:

(A) Any party to a dispute who wishes to have a Peacemaker conference shall file a request for such conference with the Court Clerk. The request shall state the parties' names, addresses and telephone numbers, type of dispute, and the Peacemaker(s) desired, if any.

(B) A Peacemaker shall then contact the parties to schedule a Peacemaker conference and explain the basic rules of the conference. If a party after hearing said explanation, objects to holding a conference, the Peacemaker shall not hold it. If parties do not agree on a Peacemaker, the Chief Judge shall designate a Peacemaker.

(C) If the non-moving party agrees to a conference, the Peacemaker shall send written notice of it to the parties. The notice shall contain:

1. the names of the parties;

2. the date, time, and place of the conference;

3. the allegation(s) and a brief statement of the alleged facts on which it is based; and

4. a brief description of how the Peacemaker conference works.

(6) Representation: No party to a Peacemaking conference may be represented by counsel. A party may only by represented by a spokesperson to the extent necessary for the party to understand the nature of the proceedings.


I hereby certify that this is a true copy of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon Tribal Court Ordinance.

____________________
Tribal Council Secretary

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