--- Am. Tribal Law ----, 2023 WL 3375823 (Cherokee Sup.Ct.)
Only the Westlaw citation is currently available.
Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation.
IN RE: Appeal of Denial of Eligibility of David COMINGDEER, Deputy Chief Candidate For the 2023 General Election
Case No. SC-2023-04
Filed March 31, 2023

Opinion by: Justice Mark L. Dobbins


David Comingdeer filed as a candidate for the office of Deputy Chief of the Cherokee Nation. This filing occurred on February 9, 2023

The Cherokee Nation Election Commission received the candidate’s declaration of candidacy to ascertain his eligibility status. The finding of the Election Commission was Mr. Comingdeer was not eligible due to his non-payment of attorney’s fees that were assessed against him in the amount of $10,875.00 in SC-2021-06 David Comingdeer v. Cherokee Nation Election Commission and Joshua Sam, individually by this Court on September 13, 2021. The Election Commission relied on Title 26 CNCA § 31A(4) in denying his candidacy. From that finding Mr. Comingdeer appeals.

On March 27, 2023, an oral argument was heard on the merits.

Section 31A(4) of the election code provided:

4.) Any outstanding fines and civil penalties imposed by the Election Commission and any court-ordered fines, costs, attorney’s fees, and/or civil penalties from a previous Cherokee Nation general or special elections must be paid before a person can be eligible to run or a candidate for an elective office in a subsequent general or special election.
The above section was enacted by the Council of the Cherokee Nation on May 6, 2022, and approved by Principal Chief Chuck Hoskins, Jr. on May 23, 2022.

Section 7 of Article VI of the Cherokee Nation Constitution:

The council shall have the power to establish laws which it shall deem necessary and proper for the good of the Nation, which shall not be contrary to the provisions of this Constitution.

This Court finds that the enactment of Title 26 § 31A(4) by the Council of the Cherokee Nation on the 16th day of May 2022 is Constitutional. Additionally, its enforcement by the Cherokee Nation Election Commission was a duty conferred upon it by Article IX Section 2 of the Cherokee Constitution and the Court finds all actions by the Cherokee Nation Election Commission in the above case were reasonable and proper.



Comingdeer alleges that Title 26 § 31A(4) is being applied retroactively to him personally. Attorney fees assessed against him in SC-2021-06 were ordered on September 13, 2021,

The above statute was enacted on May 23, 2022. The filing period for candidates was February 6, 7, and 8, 2023. Comingdeer had ample time to remedy his issue for candidacy during that time.

Instead prospective candidate Comingdeer chose to take no action to satisfy his Court ordered obligation to pay attorney fees. Thus, Comingdeer through his non-compliance with a valid court order rendered himself ineligible. This Court denies his claim of retroactivity of the statute.

Based on the evidence presented and the argument of counsel the appeal of Candidate Comingdeer is denied.

All Citations
--- Am. Tribal Law ----, 2023 WL 3375823